Open Innovation in SMEs - The power of cooperation

Open Innovation City and the East Westphalia Chamber of Industry and Commerce welcome 70 guests at the FHM. Here are the insights!

Technological change, sustainability, new work and the permanent pressure to innovate: More and more medium-sized companies are realizing that the speed of change has become so immense that they can no longer rely solely on their own creative potential to develop and successfully market innovative products and services. How can SMEs in Bielefeld and Ostwestfalen-Lippe (OWL) benefit from innovations? And what do companies need to consider when implementing open innovation? These questions were addressed by around 70 guests at the event "Open Innovation Mittelstand - the power of innovation" which took place on Thursday, February 2 at the Fachhochschule des Mittelstands (FHM).

The Chamber of Industry and Commerce Ostwestfalen zu Bielefeld (IHK) and the initiative Open Innovation City (OIC) had jointly invited companies from the city and the region OWL to discuss the topic and share experiences. They were welcomed by Prof. Dr. Anne Dreier, Rector of the FHM, and by Uwe Lück, Technology and Innovation Officer and University Representative of the IHK, who gave an overview of the development of Open Innovation in the OWL region in recent years. "It is important to exchange ideas, to give impulses to each other." Companies depend on knowledge, technologies and ideas from outside, he said. He cited owl maschinenbau e.V. as a good example: "Here, numerous companies from the region have networked and are jointly driving topics forward." He added that the Ostwestfalen-Lippe region is now a pioneer in this area throughout Germany.

The day's keynote address was given by Dr. Salima Douven, Global Head of Open Innovation & Incubation at Henkel dx, who reported from her own experience on the topic of open innovation: "Above all, it takes courageous nay-sayers in the company to push through digital transformations and innovations. No 'we have always done it this way`. Focus on the yes-men. It is important to change perspectives and exchange with other players - away from homogeneous teams and closed societies to an open and valuable exchange."

Dr. Henning Duderstadt, head of the Innovation Office in Bielefeld, explained the work of the Open Innovation City initiative in the city: "We offer opportunities and framework conditions for a new, open innovation process that promotes networking and cooperation in the corporate environment and thus strengthens innovation: that's Open Innovation." 

The principle of Open Innovation, which goes back to the US scientist Henry W. Chesbrough, is already successfully applied by numerous companies today and can be the key to competitiveness in the future. OIC offers various formats and exchange opportunities for different actors in Bielefeld and the surrounding area, for example, to familiarize themselves with instruments of Open Innovation.

The methodology of the so-called "World Café" could be experienced live by the visitors of the event after a lively panel discussion, which was moderated by Almut Rademacher, Managing Director, owl maschinenbau e.V.: In the second, practical part of the event, this methodology was applied in individual, moderated discussion forums - depending on their interests, visitors were able to exchange ideas here on the topics of open innovation in business & start-ups, universities & institutes or administration & society.

The hosts were pleased with the success of the event: "It was nice that we were not only able to look at the topic of Open Innovation theoretically here, but also to implement it directly. The event brought together various players from Bielefeld and all of East Westphalia-Lippe and gave them the opportunity to exchange ideas. That's exactly what matters when it comes to the topic of open innovation!"

Here are a few impressions of the event!

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