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4 Tips for Successful Open Innovation Projects, by Industry Leaders

Key players from Montreal’s innovation scene joined us this week for a conversation on the benefits and challenges of open innovation projects, especially in times of crisis. Our guests — leaders from Centech, Osmo, Desjardins Lab and Radio Canada — shared valuable insights for fostering more collaboration between startups and the corporate world.

Tips to navigate the waters of open innovation 

As opposed to closed innovation, which happens from within a company and can be very time consuming, open innovation is all about welcoming ideas from the outside, to accelerate innovation by building, buying, or co-creating with other organizations. Here are some key takeaways from our panelists. You can watch the replay here 

Deal with the cultural clash between corporations and startups

“I think the main challenge is the cultural clash between corporations and startups,” said Federico Puebla, Open Innovation Director at Desjardins Lab. 

“A big company has already found a model and its objective is to repeat it again and again. For an entrepreneur on the other hand, it’s not a job — it’s a passion. A calling.” His solution? An interpreter, of sorts: “an entity who understands both cultures.” 

Federico Puebla is a visionary with a relentless will to spark entrepreneurial spirit within large organisations. He was the craftsman behind Desjardins Lab, the first innovation lab at Desjardins Group.

Make sure you understand who you’re talking to

“When building a case [for corporations], startups need to make sure they understand who they’re talking to;  know the organizational structure, build a value proposition around the problem [the corporation is] trying to fix, and identify where they fit in the corporate strategy.” According to Valérie Forget, Innovation Director at Osmo

“Corporations have a slower pace and heavy processes, but there is a lot of value even if you don’t conclude a deal. Don’t get discouraged by a no.”

Valérie Forget is an Open Innovation designer and adviser. She trains teams to develop their innovation capability and designs programs to guide leaders and their teams on their journey to innovation.

Find organizations with a good knowledge of the ecosystem to help you

“If you’re a corporation looking to get started with innovation projects, find organizations with a good knowledge of the ecosystem to help you,” suggested Jean-Philip Poulin of Centech. 

“Implementation can be challenging on both the corporation and startup side. Working with a third-party which has a foot in both worlds can only be beneficial to link up, motivate and support innovation teams.”  

Jean-Philip Poulin has been in the innovation space for over 10 years and is currently managing the open innovation program at CENTECH.

Good communication is key 

“Communication is one of the first issues that arises in open innovation projects. Knowing how to talk doesn't mean we are good at communicating,” said Radio Canada’s Eric Letarte. “Having that in mind, usually the first meeting we do with a startup is to make sure we understand each other before we get into hours-long business meetings.”

Eric Letarte is an innovation strategist totally fascinated by how technology changes our lives, communities and futures. He is the Chief Innovation Officer at Radio Canada where he has the role of modernizing.

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