Explore three ways to engage in open innovation
Whether it’s reaching out to innovation advisors or finding the right technology partner, let IPI support each step of your open innovation journey.

As the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world in 2020, one of the few positives it yielded was a broader appreciation for open innovation (OI) principles. Companies, healthcare providers and research institutions around the world found common cause and began to collaborate more to survive and even thrive in the new normal.

While the value of OI shines through in crises, businesses can reap its benefits in times of stability too. Even companies who previously thought they were comfortable with the status quo can reap benefits when they actively step out of their comfort zones to pursue innovation and collaboration, shared IPI Head of Innovation and Technology Dr Sze Tiam Lin. “As the saying goes, ‘no pain, no gain.’ Many new ideas and innovations are borne through collaboration that often take place in new and unfamiliar circumstances,” Dr Sze pointed out from helping SMEs and enterprises for more than two decades.

With cross-border cooperation growing, the collaborative process need not be restricted to local partners either. “The spirit of OI transcends individuals, enterprises or geographical boundaries,” Dr Sze said. “New ideas and innovations can come from partners anywhere around the world.”

Whether you are looking for a local collaborator or overseas partner, IPI’s role is to enable companies with the knowledge and confidence needed to succeed in their OI journeys. Here’s how you can tap on IPI’s resources to find the right partners and technologies to accelerate internal innovation.

1. Finding OI partners through the Innovation Marketplace

One of the primary barriers to OI that many SMEs face is getting access to information about potential partners and their technologies. To address this problem, IPI’s online Innovation Marketplace regularly brings together the latest technologies and potential collaborators from a wider range of sectors and countries.

These Tech Offers, each of which contains an overview of an innovation, its specifications, and potential applications, are not limited to locally-developed technologies either. For instance, more than half of IPI’s top 10 tech offers of 2020 feature innovations from abroad, ranging from an ultralow power AI visual sensor produced by an Israeli firm to a lithium-ion battery management system developed in Japan.

With a vibrant community of technology providers and seekers publishing their offerings and needs on the Innovation Marketplace, interested firms will embark on their OI journeys in no time.

2. Meeting OI collaborators through IPI-led events

As companies begin their OI journey, they do so with an understanding that collaboration is key—no one organisation is an island. For willing and eager SMEs, however, the challenge lies in finding like-minded partners and mentors. To create these networking opportunities, IPI regularly hosts events to bring together industry leaders, technologists, business owners, enterprises and SMEs from around the world for meaningful discussion about the latest trends and technologies in specific sectors. The annual TechInnovation is IPI’s flagship technology brokerage event that allows technology firms to find industry partners that align with their vision and can help them grow.

One such success story resulting from TechInnovation 2018 was the partnership between Singaporean natural skincare brand Restoration Essence and researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Dedicated to producing high quality skincare products from natural ingredients, Restoration Essence founder Sara Soong was on the hunt for research and development partners to improve her range of products. It was at TechInnovation that Soong met with researchers from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research & Engineering (IMRE).

After an introduction facilitated by IPI, Soong and IMRE researchers worked together to further develop her line of natural products. With IMRE’s help, Restoration Essence was able to evaluate the performance of new ingredients as well as improve the texture and ingredients in existing formulas.

Since then, the company has soared with double-digit growth year on year since 2017 with potential regional opportunities in China and the Middle East. Currently, the company offers about 50 products ranging from $9 pandan energy balls to $115 eye serums. Through IPI’s help, Soong was able to achieve growth and development that might not have been possible alone.

3. Leveraging IPI’s networks and expertise for OI

For first-timers in the OI space, embarking on new partnerships, especially with overseas collaborators, brings its fair share of uncertainty. Prudent firms can smoothen this process by consulting relevant local and international partners, who serve as mentors and advocates at each step of the OI process.  

One example is the Japan IP Network, which helps SMEs to make OI inroads in the Japanese market by connecting businesses to innovation partners and facilitating the technology transfer process. Oceans away, Barcelona-based Innoget likewise promotes partnerships by offering a free online platform for start-ups and large corporations to collaborate on valuable ideas and products.

For more hands-on challenges, companies can look to the guidance of IPI’s in-house Tech Experts or Innovation Advisors. With years of experience in fields ranging from the life sciences to materials manufacturing, each technical expert and innovation advisor can be consulted to help tackle challenges at any stage of a firm’s development.

With the variety of resources available, businesses are well-supported to pursue OI and reap benefits for shareholders, customers, and the global community alike. Reach out to IPI to begin your OI journey today.