Open Innovation

Our Innovation Lab aggregates competences to enable digital transformation initiatives with our clients

Applied Innovation

Understanding the concept of Open Innovation and applying it to your company or business will help create value and increase competitiveness on the market

Open Innovation: what it is and what it consists of

Open Innovation is not just a method or a strategy to improve business innovation processes, it is a concept that goes beyond all of that.

What does Open Innovation mean?

By Open Innovation, we mean all the methodical and strategic processes aimed at innovating your business. They include the introduction of new systems or criteria, the radical renewal of certain elements or activities, new types and methods of designing, manufacturing or selling a product or service. However, all the elements mentioned above must be united by a single characteristic: ideas, instruments and solutions must all come from the outside. This is the very difference between Open Innovation and Closed Innovation.
Basically, the company or entrepreneur will no longer have to resort only to internal resources and ideas, but can (indeed, must!) use of solutions and resources deriving from outside. The external “channels” can include universities, start-ups, agencies, suppliers, consultants and so on. Therefore, innovation is the applicative dimension of an invention or a discovery; Closed Innovation means a methodology capable of creating value using internal ideas and resources; while by Open Innovation, we mean a methodology that creates value thanks to external ideas, resources and solutions.

How Open Innovation is done

The concept of Open Innovation can be applied to businesses in several ways:





Setting up an internal think tank is also part of Open Innovation strategies. This methodology is mainly implemented through the use of Call for Ideas, carrying out Crowdsourcing activities, signing partnerships with other companies, brands, research groups, making acquisitions and so on.

Examples of Open Innovation

Large companies and multinationals, as well as SMEs and start-ups, use Open Innovation methods to achieve new goals, consolidate their leadership in a particular sector and find ideas and new technologies that allow the company to remain competitive on the market. The exchange of skills and the synergy that is created between the two companies undoubtedly leads to the improvement of business activities (for both companies), of future technologies used and, in general, serves to make both companies grow. As already done by the electronics giant Samsung, for example, which has moved to open an Innovation Center in Silicon Valley and, therefore, work closely with other Big companies in the sector, joining forces to achieve a common result, which is to place increasingly innovative products on the market and consequently improve and evolve current technologies. Below is a list of a series of activities that fit perfectly into the philosophy of Open Innovation.

Call for Ideas (calls for ideas, awards, tenders)

Calls for Ideas are organized by companies and aimed at achieving specific set objectives. From start-ups to multinationals, from SMEs to associations, everyone loves Call for Ideas and uses them to get new ideas, skills, solutions and resources. It is a sort of challenge in which the most deserving participants receive an award, obviously decided by the company that launched the contest. These calls are addressed exclusively at professionals and companies aligned with the business philosophy and the company’s services and products that will be subjected to the innovative processes.
Among the most striking examples of Call for Ideas, there are the numerous contests launched by Barilla. This leading company in the pasta sector usually organizes these challenges in which the participants propose innovative ideas regarding the various types of packaging, new products to be launched on the market, new pasta shapes and so on. The call involves companies specializing in digital graphics, freelance graphic designers, other designers and anyone who carries out work activities related to the sector.


Calls for Ideas often represent a part of Crowdsourcing, which is a strategy based on collective intelligence. In a nutshell, Crowdsourcing allows the company to find new ideas and solutions to problems by developing a collective project. This project involves people outside the company, invited by the company itself or who introduced themselves on a voluntary basis.
It is a true business model and, in this case, the company assigns the design, construction and development of a specific project to a group of external and previously unorganized people. This type of collaboration is used for collecting a large amount of data and developing new technologies, projects, making discoveries or revelations.


Partnerships have always represented a great opportunity for growth, both for the smaller company that is delegated for the creation, implementation and development of a specific project, as well as for the larger company that will benefit from the work done by the small company. These are corporate agreements in which the collaborative relationships between the two companies are placed at the center of everything. The most important thing is to create synergy while taking into account some fundamental factors: Diversity, Dynamism and Distinction. It is also possible to sign agreements between two companies that define themselves as competitors. In this case, the two companies work in synergy, with the aim of achieving common goals. In this case, we can define this type of partnership as a co-innovation project. Indeed, both companies work together and share their skills, resources and ideas to generate value and innovation.
For example, we can look to the many partnerships signed by Enel in recent years. In fact, the energy giant is carrying out several joint ventures with other companies and start-ups, all aimed at improving existing activities, innovating them, creating new technologies and new activities in line with the times. For example, there is the joint venture with Volkswagen, a giant in the car sector, for e-mobility. The two companies will work together to define new electrical solutions for the sector. The, there is the partnership with Morellino di Scansano for the sustainable development of one of the most loved and productive “wine territories” in Italy. Another is the partnership with SIA for the design and implementation of new mobile banking solutions.


Acquisitions could be defined as the opposite of partnerships. In this case, there will be a company, start-up or SME that acquires the majority shares of another business or company and then takes over control of the latter. In doing so, the company that acquires the other finds itself owning the technologies, resources and ideas of the incorporated company/business. However, that’s not all, because the main company can also “acquire” and integrate the most talented people at the acquired company into its own workforce. In short, acquisitions allow the incorporation of all the activities of another company in one fell swoop, including research and development, operational, administrative and maintenance activities.
An example is the M&A transaction involving Intesa Sanpaolo and Ubi Banca. In this case, Intesa launched an OPS on Ubi (which was successful) and acquired the Bergamo/Brescia-based bank. In one fell swoop, Intesa consolidated its position as the leading banking group in Italy by acquiring Ubi’s counters, branches and customers, it increased its managed assets after acquiring those of Ubi and also found itself with new technologies and fintech services (developed by Ubi) and all the research and innovation projects carried out by the Bergamo-based bank.

Continuous innovation to create value and go beyond company boundaries