Supported By:-

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 608843.

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Case Studies


The 4M2020 project is interested in how open innovation works for others.  Here are some great examples we have found, scroll down and click on the case study to find out more. 

If you or your organisation have experienced good instances of open innovation and would like to feature on this website please contact David Gardner.


"INNOVATION distinguishes between a leader and a follower"


FirstBuild: Partnership to Pioneer New Model for Manufacturing Industry

This GE and Local Motors partnership pairs co-creation and micro manufacturing to bring the next evolution of innovative products and industrial solutions to market. Focused on speeding the time from mind to market, the partnership leverages advanced manufacturing processes and an open innovation approach to engineering—delivering benefits for consumers and enterprise alike. 

FirstBuild will source collaborative ideas online from a community of engineers, scientists, fabricators, designers and enthusiasts who will focus on identifying market needs and solving deep engineering challenges to unlock breakthrough product innovations. As part of the partnership, a new micro factory – a specialized facility focused on prototyping and producing a small batch of products at a rapid pace – will be established where community ideas will be built, tested and sold. Co-Creation: A new model open innovation

The most commonly known model for open innovation is crowd sourcing, which is one-way communication from a community of followers to the organizing body asking for ideas. The ideas generated are only starting points for innovation, and provide mostly an indication of the direction in which the company should proceed to innovate. In contrast, co-creation engages the community in ideation, design, and eventually prototyping and manufacturing of real products. This process is less about harvesting ideas and more about developing a mature and capable community to solve complex engineering challenges in a way that meets the under served needs of the community. The full case study is available to download from here.


OpenIX: An African Open Innovation Exchange

OpenIX is an Open Innovation Exchange that delivers tangible solutions to real challenges posted by solution seekers in government and the private sector, and connects leading African researchers and entrepreneurs with new opportunities to commercialize their innovations. OpenIX is managed by The Innovation Hub, a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development.

OpenIX is leading a growing movement towards open innovation on the African continent and has built a track record of novel solutions and new deals for their members. Through their extensive relationships with both the growing African innovation community and global science and technology partners, they are able to access a unique mix of unconventional ideas and recognised experts. Team and Partners:- OpenIX is run by a team based at The Innovation Hub that includes open innovation and PhD sector specialists, with strong backgrounds in innovation, research and management consulting in South Africa, Africa and globally. We have partnered in the launch of OpenIX with the City of Tshwane, home of The Innovation Hub, and a leader in driving innovation practices within local government; as well as the Research Institute for Innovation and Sustainability (RIIS), a pioneer of open innovation services in South Africa. The full case study is available to download from here.


Open Innovation Forum in the Food and FMCG Value Chain

Established in October 2010, the Open Innovation Forum (OI) is a structured programme where members share best practice, explore 'hot topics' along the food and FMCG Value Stream and participate in optional, accelerated Open Innovation (OI) collaborations. The Forum was created to offer a programme of structured support and opportunity for companies from all stages of the Food and FMCG value chain.

Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use both internal and external ‘ideas’ and ‘paths’ to market, as the companies look to advance their technology. In a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should work collaboratively with others.

The OI Forum benefits all members, regardless of their position in the value chain, from ingredients and packaging, through brand-owner, manufacturing and the final link: retail.

In times when the global business environment is becoming ever more complex and uncertainty in the global marketplace has given rise to a fundamental change in organisational innovation strategy; the OI Forum has continued to attract leading brand names. The full case study is available to download from here.


Unilever: Open to your ideas

Unilever has a vision of a better future for the world and their business, being the innovation essential for achieving it. For innovating, they have world-class research and development facilities, but they also know that the world is full of brilliant people, with brilliant ideas. Thus, Unilever has its own Open Innovation portal to connect and collaborate with the global community. 

They are looking for help in achieving their most important ambition: a better future for the world and their business.  They have recognized that the planet will not be able to sustain the demands on its resources that will come from a growing population unless people everywhere – including them – find new ways to do things. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan sets out their commitment to halving the environmental impact – and increasing the social benefits – of their products as they grow their business. The full case study is available to download from here.


Connect + Develop

Connect + Develop is P&G’s version of Open Innovation. Through Connect + Develop as well as their Co-Creation crowd sourcing platform, P&G collaborates with individuals and companies around the world to develop innovative ideas and products. Open innovation at P&G works both ways — inbound and outbound — and encompasses everything from trademarks to packaging, marketing models to engineering, and business services to design.  

Historically, P&G relied on internal capabilities and those of a network of trusted suppliers to invent, develop and deliver new products and services to the market. They did not actively seek to connect with potential external partners. Similarly, the P&G products, technologies and know-how they developed were used almost solely for the manufacture and sale of P&G's own products. Beyond this, they seldom licensed them to other companies. Times have changed, and the world is more connected. In the areas in which they do business, there are millions of scientists, engineers and other companies globally. Why not collaborate with them? They now embrace open innovation, and they call their approach "Connect + Develop." Through Connect + Develop as well as their Co-Creation crowd sourcing platform, P&G is collaborating with individuals and companies around the world to develop innovative ideas and products. The full case study is available to download from here,