What is open innovation?

arge enterprises are always striving make operations more efficient and offer better products. One way they can achieve this is through internal research and development (R&D).

Another way is through startup partnerships and technology licensing – that’s “open innovation.” (Read more about the history of the term.)

Open innovation is becoming more common as industries shift and companies strive to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

For example, think of all the decades-old car companies that are courting autonomous vehicle startups. Leading chemical companies are seeking the next big advance in sustainable chemistry. Pharmaceutical companies are seeking new patents and approaches, sometimes with a tinge of urgency as older patents expire.

What is a tech scout?

Technology scouts are the drivers of open innovation for their firms. They help increase overall R&D productivity by building relationships outside the traditional boundaires of the firm. Their job entails promising new technologies and digging deep to see what sort of strategic partnerships are possible.

A tech scout might have an obvious title like “Corporate Technology Scout” or “Senior Technology Scout.” They may even be part of a tech scouting team with a strong track record of open innovation success. But at some firms, a technology scout may have another role as well – splitting time between business development and tech scouting, for example.

For smaller enterprise, open innovation may be entirely new – and the “tech scout” may hesitate to call themselves by that name at all. Yet they may still be on the looking for a startup to partner with on a new project.

Should I find an industry partner for my startup?

There are many ways to scale a startup. For many startups, industry partnerships such as joint development, contract manufacturing, or licensing are excellent options. Startups may choose to sell patents or opt for acquisition.

An industry partner can offer strategic resources that go far beyond financing, helping both companies go father than they would alone.

Industry partners can support a technology’s commercialization in kind, with extensive equipment and pilot facilities, manufacturing experience, customer and OEM relationships, and a deep knowledge of marketing strategy for your sector.

How do industry partnerships usually start?

All too often, location and prior relationships determine which industry partnerships get off the ground. This poses a challenge both for startups and the tech scouts who seek them out.

There are many ways to meet tech scouts. Tech scouts often attend industry conferences to meet young companies. Many large firms have relationships with sources of innovation, such as incubators and universities, who they return to again and again for strategic partnerships. Corporations may also start their own accelerators or idea labs – or else use corporate venture capital as partnerships engine.

This traditional approach to network-building can lead to strong partnerships – but it also limited. Startups outside the tech scout’s network may never get an audience, while tech scouts may hear numerous irrelevant pitches that make it harder to zero in on the right candidate.

We launched seedsprintto give both sides a more efficient, targeted platform to launch great partnerships.