Exploring the Role of Open Innovation Intermediaries: The Case of Public Research Valorization

Exploring the Role of Open Innovation Intermediaries: The Case of Public Research Valorization

Pierre-Jean Barlatier (Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Luxembourg), Eleni Giannopoulou (University of Strasbourg, France) and Julien Pénin (University of Strasbourg, France)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2133-4.ch005
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In the era of open innovation, companies that want to innovate can no more remain isolated, they have to interact and collaborate with diverse actors of the innovation process. The rise of open innovation practices resulted in an increase of intermediaries for innovation. This chapter aims to better understand why innovative companies use the services of such intermediaries. Two distinct types of open innovation intermediaries have been identified, whose roles are significantly different; while the first type help companies to reduce transaction costs related to open innovation, the second type may be implicated directly in the creation, transfer and diffusion of knowledge. This chapter illustrates both roles in the case of public research valorization and distinguish clearly “Technology Transfer Organizations” (TTOs), whose role is to reduce transaction costs related to technology transfer from “Research and Technology Organizations” (RTOs) that are actively involved in knowledge creation and transfer processes.
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In line with open innovation, innovative companies can no longer remain isolated. They have to interact and collaborate with other stakeholders in the innovation process (Chesbrough, 2003; West and Bogers, 2014). Forms of open innovation are multiple (Pénin et al., 2013). It may be, for example, formal collaboration agreements in R&D, informal knowledge exchanges, commercial technology exchanges (“licensing-in and out”), establishing “patent pools”, standards, collaboration with communities of users and / or open source, crowdsourcing, etc.

The terms of open innovation can be classified depending on the objective of the company, which can be to acquire technologies (“outside-in”), to transfer (“inside-out”) or both (“coupled”, Gassman and Enkel, 2004); depending on whether the interaction is more or less formal and commercial; depending on whether the access to knowledge is more or less open; depending on whether the interactions are more or less frequent and important, etc. Jullien and Pénin (2014) suggest, for example, a categorization based on the distinction between “outside-in” and “inside-out” and the more or less important degree of interaction and use of ICT (see Table 1). In particular, they distinguish open innovation 1.0 from open innovation 2.0 that better mobilizes ICT and is often much more interactive and community-oriented.

Table 1.
Terms of open innovation
Open Innovation 1.0Open Innovation 2.0
“Outside-in”, PureLicensing-in, Spin-inCrowdsourcing
Partnership (mix of “outside-in” and “inside-out”)Co-design, Co-development, Research consortium, Research joint ventureInnovation with communities / open source
“Inside-out”, PureLicensing-out, Spin-outPlaces of online markets / eBay ideas (Yet2.com)

Source: Jullien and Pénin (2014).

Among all these terms, which are very different from each other, at least one element of recurrence seems to emerge (particularly regarding open innovation 2.0): the use of an intermediary structure. While in some cases the development of ICT has reduced the need for intermediaries (we especially think of the networks peer-to-peer), this is not the case for open innovation practices. It seems that to open up its boundaries is not necessarily natural for organizations. It is thus often necessary to use intermediaries to smooth the difficulties that may arise in the process of opening.

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