Forward thinking

Dublin Castle was the venue for the world’s first Open Innovation 2.0 conference in May as part of Ireland’s EU presidency. Intel Labs Europe’s Martin Curley spoke to Grainne Rothery about the new concept in innovation

The adoption of a new paradigm – Open Innovation 2.0 (OI2) – will be “the catalyst that unleashes a virtual Cambrian explosion” of innovation in Europe, write Martin Curley and Bror Salmelin of the European Commission’s Open Innovation Strategy and Policy Group (OISPG) in their recently published white paper on the subject.

The paper was one of the outputs of the first ever Open Innovation 2.0 conference, which took place in Dublin in May as part of Ireland’s EU presidency. The two-day event, which was organised by the European Commission, the OISPG, Intel Labs Europe, Dublin City Council and Trinity College Dublin, attracted 75 international experts – including Alexander Osterwalder, Venkat Ramaswamy, Alexander von Gabain and Richard Straub – and more than 300 delegates from around the world.

The objective of the conference was to bring together thought leaders, senior decision-makers, social innovators, policy leaders and key executives to devise a manifesto, platform and road map for sustainable economy and society development.

The new paradigm
In their paper, Curley and Salmelin, who were co-chairs of the conference, sum OI2 up as “a new paradigm based on principles of integrated collaboration, co-created shared value, cultivated innovation ecosystems, unleashed exponential technologies, and extraordinarily rapid adoption”.

Curley, who is vice-president, Intel Labs Europe, Intel Corporation, explains that the OISPG, which he chairs, has published 10 substantive reports on different aspects of best practice around innovation over the last few years. “It’s very clear that there’s something fundamentally different happening and that there are lots of new possibilities,” he says.

“Innovation itself is moving so fast and is so complex, it’s impossible to even describe it in all its facets, but I think we are able to say that there are some key characteristics of this new paradigm.”

It is an innovation model based on extensive networking and co-creative collaboration between all actors in society, he says. A core characteristic is the use of the quadruple helix innovation, where government, industry, academia and indeed citizens come together to co-create the future.

“It’s also very much about the idea of shared vision and shared value and creating win-win or win-more scenarios for different players in the ecosystem,” says Curley.
“And it’s about the use of exponential technologies to give us disruptive benefits.”

Adoption has a crucial role in the new paradigm, he says. “A mental shift has to happen in the field of innovation, because 80pc of the benefits of innovation actually come from the adoption of existing innovations, but we seem to have most of the focus and most of the funding around creating new inventions, new innovations.”

The move towards OI2 is being driven by a range of factors. “We think open innovation is coming about because we have digital transformations driven by Moore’s Law, we have this need to embrace the sustainability paradigm, and we have this possibility of mass collaboration that’s really unique and is driven by new connectivity. These things coming together create the possibilities of this whole new innovation force.”

Curley believes that citizens are increasingly opting in to innovation. He cites the fact that 92pc of Dubliners who attended the OI2 conference showcase – an exhibition of real world examples of innovation – said they would like to see Dublin being used as a test bed for new technologies and that they would like to participate in the experiments themselves. “If you look at the innovation diffusion theory, just 10pc of the population typically are early adopters. So this was an amazing outcome to show the level of openness.”

It’s still very early days in the OI2 journey, he says. “The last paradigm was called open innovation and Henry Chesbrough coined the term and wrote a book about it in 2003. The concept was simply that not all of the smart people in the world work for your company so you have to source ideas from outside. We’re a decade on from that and very clearly now the unit of competition is starting to become the ecosystem that you’re in rather than an individual firm or organisation.

“I think we’re in the early stages but that we have enough proof that this is happening and that it works, because the Open Innovation 2.0 conference itself used the principles of OI2 and I think we collectively delivered something far beyond what any one organisation could do. And that was the EU, Intel, Dublin City and Trinity working together.”

Dublin conference
The conference was held in Dublin Castle over two days in May. “We had considered doing it during the Polish presidency but we felt we didn’t have enough data to  really be able to say that there definitely is a new paradigm,” says Curley. “We picked the Irish presidency for a number of reasons, including the fact that we had some great examples of OI2.”

One of these was the collaboration with Dublin City Council in building the Dublin Digital Masterplan, which was launched several weeks after the conference. Developed in co-operation with the Digital Leadership Forum, the Digital Masterplan is a road map for the smart economy and society and sets out seven main actions to create a truly digital city. A fundamental element of the Masterplan is the development of the Digital Maturity Scorecard (DMS), an analytical tool to benchmark Dublin’s digital performance internationally. The impact of the actions carried out under the Masterplan will be evaluated against the DMS. A world first, the scorecard was developed by Intel, Maynooth’s Innovation Value Institute and Dublin City University.

Curley describes the Dublin event as very much a working conference that resulted in the co-creation of a declaration outlining 10 key actions  to advance progress in the EU towards achieving the Europe 2020 goals of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth.

“The aims of the conference were first to build awareness of this new paradigm and then to work together and try to come up with some sort of action plan for Europe to help with the recovery.

“We were able to present a declaration to the delegates and have a vote that thankfully overwhelmingly endorsed the 10 action items for Europe,” says Curley.

“And there was some risk. You can never guarantee that you’ll get broad consensus and alignment at a working conference in two days with 300 people, but I think everyone on the steering committee was very pleased with the outcome and there is a declaration.”

Robert Madelin, director general of DG Connect, has welcomed the publication of the OI2 paper and the Dublin Declaration, as well as the method for creating them: “This is a new approach to driving forward innovation in Europe; and the ideas themselves have been created in a more open and participative way than is usual, delivering in direct consequence better ideas, faster and at lower cost. As Commissioner Neelie Kroes has made clear in the past year, innovation needs a deeper embrace of riskier policies by public leaders: with this Dublin event, we have some of the tools we need to do just that.”

Real world examples
Having a physical showcase associated with the conference was particularly valuable, according to Curley, because real innovations could be presented.

At the event, more than 20 new innovations were on display allowing people to interact with the new technologies. The showcase was split into zones covering innovations for the home, work, schools, city, environment and garden. Each zone included demonstrations displaying the innovation taking place in Ireland and internationally.

A particular attraction was a Lego workshop where people of all ages could build their vision of the Dublin of the future. These ‘Build The Change’ Lego workshops have previously taken places in 10 European cities.

“A very important part of diffusing innovation is showcasing it so people see it and they get inspired and they imitate it.

“What was also very good was that we were able to announce at the conference the Open Innovation 2.0 collaboration between Intel, Glen Dimplex, Eirgrid, Airtricity and ESB Networks about a plan to build an extensive Enernet pilot in Ireland.”

The conference also saw the launch of CityWatch, a collaborative intelligence application developed by Intel Labs Europe, Dublin City Council and Trinity College with the assistance of citizens and business owners in Dublin. The app is designed to be used by citizens to interact on issues around public services.

“It’s Open Innovation 2.0 at two levels,” says Curley. “One, citizens helped design it and secondly, citizens actively contribute and use the application by tagging resources or, if there’s an incident like a flooding, they’re able to take pictures and upload them to city management.

“We really were able to talk about this innovation but we had enough real examples to show that this is real. One of the speakers, Venkat Ramaswamy, who is a professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, stressed the importance of engagement platforms. I think what we were able to present with CityWatch was an engagement platform for citizens and business in Dublin to interact with the city and generally improve and think of new innovations and new services for Dublin.”

Capitalising on OI2
The challenge now is to use the new paradigm to its full potential. “A key point we made at the conference is that value only happens when innovations get adopted. A lot of the public funding is in the space of creating new inventions and new ideas. We probably need to redistribute the funding to help with idea implementation and idea adoption.

“The opportunity is to move from where the result of our collaboration no longer is the lowest common denominator. It becomes the highest common multiple, where the sum of the whole is far more than the sum of the individual parts rather than the other way around.”

Curley says there is an awakening and growing awareness of the value of OI2 at EU level. One manifestation of this is the fact that the Dublin Declaration is set to be presented to a cross EU group consisting of members of cabinet, including President Manuel Barroso and a number of other commissioners.

“I think there’s a realisation that there’s something different here and that this might be, if not all of the answer, part of the answer in terms of really re-energising and stimulating growth again in Europe. I think there’s a mechanism here that helps us get to delivery using experimentation, prototyping and collaborating together.

“It’ll take a little bit more time for it to hopefully be assimilated more broadly across the Commission. Innovation diffusion and adoption does take time, but I think some of the key players are recognising that there is a new opportunity here, and we need to respond differently. The next generation of innovation could be one of the key legacies of the Irish presidency and that would be a great outcome if it is an output.”