Open innovation platform’s time has come for New Zealand

There’s an opportunity for an ‘open innovation’ platform in New Zealand, and it could just be the way for companies to cost-effectively solve some of their R&D challenges.

The concept’s taken off in some overseas countries, though VicLink (Victoria University’s unit to help turn research into sellable products) GM commercialisation Sophie Howard reckons the internet-based concept would need modifying for a kiwi context.

Open innovation is a term that can have a thousand meanings, but essentially it is using external knowledge (in its many forms) for a company to solve particular problems. This might for example, an engineer or scientist suggesting a solution to an internet-posted problem, with the best solution earning some kind of fee or reward. Various overseas models attempt to connect and manage the relationships between ‘seekers’ and ‘solvers’, and in some way act as a broker.

Howard’s given some thought to the idea, especially as she observes that many companies waste money and miss opportunities because they don’t understand how technology can help them be more efficient.

“Companies don’t know what they don’t know,” she says. “They also waste money by solving problems from scratch, when they have already been solved elsewhere.” Another factor is that “small, medium enterprises often don’t have the staff to know how they can pick up new technologies that would complement their business,” she says.

Companies realising opportunities to grow and improve often:
• Don’t know the problems they’re wanting to solve already have been
• A problem can be translated from another industry
• There’s expertise available in niche areas such as engineering

The idea needs better evaluation; especially for such a small place as New Zealand.

Often there might be only one particular expert in a particular area, and at least initially, it would be important to preserve anonymity she says.

However, these challenges aren’t unsolvable, and it’s an idea whose time has come Howard says.


About sticknz

sticK is by Peter Kerr, a writer for hire. I have a broad science and technology background and interest, with an original degree in agricultural science. My writing speciality is making the complex understandable. I am available for outside consultancy work, and for general discussions of converting a good idea into something positive
This entry was posted in Innovation, open source, Science, university and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Open innovation platform’s time has come for New Zealand

  1. Jamie Moore says:

    Great post Peter, personally I think the industry translation aspect you mention is particularly interesting. I’m actually looking into the merits of open innovation in NZ myself in a person research project. If you’re interested, if early days, but I’m documenting my findings at Would love to hear your thoughts.

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