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Where Geo-information meets Open innovation

2011 May 1

Antique bookLast Friday I gave a guest lecture at the university I once carefully avoided: TU Delft (then TH Delft). My topic was Open innovation and where it meets geo-information. Thought it would be good the start with an introduction on the (perceived) differences between researchers and practitioners….it came across. There seems an abundance of open subjects around these days: Open Access, Open Courseware, Open Services, Open Source, Open Gov, Open standards, Open data and even more. To me, Openness is a trend of trends and I like to position these trends around Open Innovation.

Five parts in my presentation. In Innovation I presented “what is the innovation” (it can be the packaging), “who benefits from innovation” (other firms can benefit more then yours) and “who leads the innovation” (very often: -lead- users). In Open Innovation I presented Chesbrough’s 2006 definition and the major characteristics of Open innovation (inbound, outbound; explore/exploit). Also, I discussed the newness of Open Innovation (is it old wine in new bottles? Trott/Hartman, 2009).

The research of my 2011 thesis (Open the books on innovation, in Dutch) and its findings were then presented. Conclusions: Open innovation does exist in the geo-information sector in the Netherlands; large geo-organizations name only internal factors as ‘of imporantance’; top tier innovation projects are hardly open innovation projects. My conclusion: there is a clear intent to open the books on innovation, now the books on innovation can be opened. Future research: I suggest to look into the time aspect of Open Innovation (what is the impact of time on the application of open innovation principles) and at other forms of innovation management (is the application of open innovation any different from other management innovation forms).

Europe from aboveSo where is the link with Geo-Information? First and foremost: working in solitude on geographic information (technology) does not make much sense. It is “in the sharing’’ where geography becomes interesting. Some openness has always been present. I strongly believe that open innovation is a good thing for geo-information. A balanced ecosystem with an optimal diffusion of knowledge will bring us all forward. How? There is a nice challenge for IIPGeo! (a Dutch open innovation initiative in our sector). Btw, I have not given up on the subject of Open Innovation. Getting ready for a next step!

Good remark from an attendee: is open just another marketing trick? Arguably, being open is just another way to approach a market . And I view being skeptical to openness in general as a good thing (see slide 18).

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