Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing Examples: Inspiration from Key Players


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We can call it open innovation, crowdsourcing or co-creation – or something else. In short, it is about bringing external input to an innovation process and this is no longer a buzzword.

Companies are leaning that they must embrace this paradigm shift of innovation in order to keep up with the competition and those that are lagging behind, well, they will find themselves to be in big trouble in the coming years.

This list of corporate initiatives is worth looking into if you want to get an idea of what is happening with the open innovation, crowdsourcing and co-creation today.

NOTE: The process of bringing external input into an innovation process requires lots of work that is often not visible to the public. So when you go through this list of examples, please remember that these companies have other initiatives related to open innovation.

Audi Production Award

In this competition, Audi asks questions such as: How will people work in production? What qualification concepts and/or kinds of cooperation will the future of production require? I like this initiative because it goes beyond the usual quest for ideas on products and services.

Akzo Nobel Open Space

This open space allows Akzo Nobel, a producer of paints, coatings and chemicals, to reach out to individuals, companies and the academic world on a non-confidential basis. It is about making the connections, getting the discussions started and then look into what can happen.

BASF Future Business

An entry site for getting in touch with BASF with regards to joint innovation efforts.

Beiersdorf Pearlfinder

Pearlfinder is Beiersdorf’s Web platform for open innovation and the basis for a trusted network with external innovators. External partners are able to access Beiersdorf’s confidential scientific challenges in order to propose appropriate ideas and solutions which may lead to joint collaborations or business.

Cisco iPrize

Why has this competition not been continued? Cisco has many other innovation initaitives, but this was the most public one I have noticed in recent years. It worked well so hopefully it will return.

Clorox Connects

This is a community in which Clorox works with consumers, inventors and partners. I recently did an interview with Greg Piche, the guy behind this initiative, and he revealed some advanced thoughts and insights on making communities work. Interesting project to follow.


DSM provides a good example on how a b2b industry such a chemicals can develop a more open innovation mindset. DSM has also been a driving force in developing Chemelot as a community for the chemical industry.

GE Ecomagination Challenge

This is a platform in which GE reaches out to businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators and students with breakthrough ideas on energy issues. There has been 2 challenges sofar. It has been great to see how GE has experiemented with social media on this initiative. Hopefully, they will continue this initiative.

General Mills

The G-WIN program at General Mills has received several industry awards. You can get an idea on why by checking out these five tips by Jeff Bellairs on how to jumpstart an open innovation program – great insights!


HP Labs’ Open Innovation team pursues and coordinates collaborations with researchers and entrepreneurs in academia, government and business. Well, it seems to be more about academia and government than business. Does HP have other business-directed initiatives?

Intuit Collaboratory

Intuit did great work a few years ago. The site is still up, but why is there almost no activity?

Lego Cuusoo

Although Lego is one of the companies in the world with the most external touchpoints (especially towards their consumers/users) and great successes such as MindStorms, they did not have a formal open innovation strategy until recently. This is changing and it shows. One example is LegoCuuso, which I briefly described in this blog post. Lego is one of m favourite companies : – )

Local Motors

The world’s first open-source community of car designers and fabricators. It is actually pretty cool!


The MWV Exchange seems like a fairly standard system for MWV to engage with external stakeholders. However, I have met with the people behind this initiative and I like their aggressive thinking, which I imagine will help them turn this into some interesting in the near future.


I believe medtech companies have lots of potential for open innovation, but we don’t see many whole-hearted initiatives. I give Medtronic credit for trying, but there is definitely room for improvement.


As Nokia fights for its life, the company also turns to consumers with their IdeasProject. Not so long ago, I attended a presentation on IdeasProject and I liked how they talked about the rise of the amateurs. This might be too late, too little from Nokia, but they are at least trying now.

P&G Connect+Develop

The poster boy of open innovation showed us the way, but now the Connect+Develop site needs to develop. They have taken the first step with a design redo – a good start – and I know they are working on further developments. I look forward to see how the great people at P&G will rise to the challenge and revive the innovation engine at P&G once again.


Although, Philips seems to lack a portal or entry site for their open innovation efforts, they are still very much committed to working with external partners. I have learned this through my interactions with them and it is clearly stated on their website.

Psion Ingenuity Working

Psion started out strong with their open innovation efforts and although they have been slowed by the global crisis, you should still take a look a their community called Ingenuity Working.

Note: Psion has been taken over by Motorola and it will be interesting to see what will happen with their open innovation initiatives.


Open innovation brings new business models. This is about social product development.


The Global SAP Co-Innovation Lab (COIL) Network enhances the capabilities of SAP’s partner and customer ecosystem through an integrated network of world-wide expertise, and best-in-class technologies and platforms. Sounds good, right? I also like SAP’s efforts on communities as I believe they are a very important source for innovation today and even more so in the future.

Shell GameChanger

The GameChanger program encourages inventors outside and inside the company to come up with creative ideas. The program is run by great people who know how to make things happen.

Starbucks – MyStarbucksIdea

MyStarbucksIdea was one of the early crowdsourcing-like initiatives that gained widespread attention. This is rightfully deserved, but when you learn that only about 0.05% of the ideas submitted are executed, you need to consider what kind of success this is. I often say that the marketing guys can hijack innovation initatives. This is a great example of marketing success and less of a good innovation story.


This entry site for collaborating with Unilever is pretty much what you can expect from a global FMCG company. If you go behind the scenes, I like how Gail Martino, an open innovation manager at Unilever, looked into how to identify and develop critical personal competencies for open innovation success a few years ago.


Open Xerox is the place where you can experiment with technologies being developed in the Xerox labs around the globe.


Don’t miss out on this advice on open innovation by Linda Beltz from Weyerhaeuser!

I am going to stop my list now, but I could also have added these initiatives:

BASF Future Business
Bombardier – YouRail Design Contest – government challenges, your solutions
Coloplast – Innovation By You
Dell Ideastorm
DHL – City Logistics Open Innovation Contest
IBM – Collaborative Research Initiatives
Fiat Mio – the crowd helps make a car
Kraft Collaboration Kitchen
LG – Collaborate and Innovate portal
Lufthansa – Air cargo innovation challenge
OpenIDEO – Solving big challenges for social good
Reckitt Benckiser – Idealink
Toyota – Ideas for good

…and there are many more examples so please feel free to add your own suggestions.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.


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