Open innovation in international cooperation

22.09.2016| Christian Kreutz
Crowdfunding innovation
10 Open Innovations - Publication by the federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development

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It is great to see that our publication "10 trends in open innovation" is now available as an eBook. For this project, I worked together with the GIZ, namely Jan Schwaab, Balthas Seibold and Christian Gmelin, to create 10 exciting chapters, which enlighten the abstract concept of innovation. The various chapters provide an overview and practical advice on how to pursue an open innovation approach. Thanks to all the authors. Following are some introductions to the chapters.

1. Creating Space for Change

Geraldine de Bastion

Africa’s Technology Innovation Hubs

Social Media have by now spread to all corners of the world, including the remotest areas in Africa. They have changed our personal and professional communication, our news and consumption habits and the way we share information. New markets and industries are emerging as these technologies, in particular mobile internet services, are now globally accessible. Whilst these creative and digital industries are driven by the Internet, they also require physical space to evolve. Creating such space as well as physical social networks 3. is crucial for digital innovation, especially in spots where edgling technology communities are just beginning to evolve, like Addis Ababa or Dar Es Salaam. Beyond the bad news about famines and civil wars, Africa is also undergoing a profound telecoms and IT boom that sees young entrepreneurs invent anything from mobile payment systems to rooftop gardens.

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2. Africa’s silent revolution

Mark Kwaiga

The mobile phone has turned from a communication tool to a device, on which much of Africa’s economic aspirations rest. Innovations built around the mobile phone have increased the population’s inclusion in nancial markets and have helped to work around the continent’s infrastructure problems. In some regions, more Africans have a mobile phone than have access to electricity. This has opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs and has changed the way business is done in the continent’s banking, agricultural, telecoms and pharmaceutical sectors. But it has also helped to increase transparency in politics, as activists use mobile applications to monitor political violence and ght against state control of free speech.

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3. Without a boss and open to customers, startups can only innovate

Frederik Richter

The most efficient way to force yourself or your company to be at the forefront of innovation is to share what you are doing with everyone around you. When your customers can constantly see what you are working on, when they can copy your product and adapt it and develop it further, you need to be the best to thrive. Software startups are amongst the most innovative institutions in the world. They offer the environment that developers, engineers and creatives need to create ideas and develop products. These companies mostly do with internal hierarchies in order to allow good ideas to grow quickly and realize their potential without being bogged down by internal politics and bureaucracy. Online collaboration tools allow developers to focus on nothing but joint product development in a collaborative way, allowing for exible software development that can quickly respond to requirement changes and problems that emerge along the way. These online tools are more than just technology. They also function as social media, allowing these companies to immerse themselves into large communities of users who contribute their ideas in what is known as open innovation, further leveraging the innovation power that single companies can field.

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4. Learning by Sharing

Balthas Seibold

How global communities cultivate skills and capacity through peer-production of knowledge

Open sharing of knowledge and ideas revolutionize the way in which global communities cooperate and learn. Learning can be organised in peer production based on open licensing and a decentralized, collaborative and non-proprietary process of global knowledge co-creation. This joint learning propels transformation processes and capacity development across borders. Global knowledge peer production and open innovation allows for exactly the scaling up of technical and social innovations that is currently much debated and needed in the international development cooperation world. It also allows striking a balance between respecting the intellectual property of corporations and institutions and giving communities access to advanced knowledge, in a bid to create fair and just conditions for everyone. The vision is a self-organised and connected peer-to-peer learning for sustainable human development worldwide, turning learning by sharing into a game changer in development cooperation.

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5. Crowdfunding

Wolfgang Gumpelmaier, Karsten Wenzlaff, Jörg Eisfeld-Reschke

What’s in it for development aid?

Crowdfunding is the latest fundraising buzz word. One project, one website, through which hundreds or thousands of donors not only raise money for their cause but also spread the word all over the Internet by asking friends and followers for support. With social media at work, crowdfunding has turned into a fundraising hype. There are already more than four hundred operating platforms worldwide. But those who pioneered this fundraising instrument have long discovered that crowdfunding is not about the money at all. Crowdfunding wins feedback, volunteer support, public debate and open innovation processes that also results in direct improvements to the fundraiser’s work. Crowdfunding has the potential not only to be a game-changer to organisational structures but also to the aid industry in a broader sense - it levels hierarchies by directly linking people short of funds to people with money.

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6. Managing the open

Daniel Michelis

How organisations can use social media to open up without losing control

The rise of social media is constantly and profoundly changing the environment businesses and organisations operate in. Employees are using twitter and Facebook to share their views, at times unwittingly disclosing con dential information and con icting the organisation’s goals. Business partners and customers have access to a wealth of information as competitors and markets become more transparent. These rapid changes in communication technology and behavior put pressure on organisations to embrace more openness. This change offers tremendous opportunities. Organisations can improve their everyday operations and boost their sustainability and competitiveness. Wikis that enable eficient online collaboration, weblogs and discussion boards that allow global knowledge sharing or the joint development of software in open innovation processes are just some examples for social technologies. At the same time, organisations are facing the fact that the widespread use of social technologies undermines traditional hierarchy structures and threatens an organisation's traditional power structures. They need to nd ways of dealing with the challenges of social technologies and make conscious decisions on how and to what extend a wider degree of openness can be integrated into their existing structures.

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