Culture, speed and failure the keys to embracing open innovation

Culture, speed and failure the keys to embracing open innovation

In a world of rapid innovation, how can Australian businesses draw on global expertise to grow and compete? A panel of industry experts discuss the keys to successful collaboration.

Organisations across a range of industries are increasingly recognising the value of open innovation to share knowledge and access new expertise, research and resources.

In the second Global Business Innovation Conversations event for 2019, RMIT brought together a panel of experts to discuss the challenges and benefits of embracing open innovation.

Lead by RMIT Vice-Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow and innovation expert Justyna Dabrowska, the panel discussed how businesses and researchers can embrace open innovation.

Why open innovation?

Strategic Director of Innovation Ecosystems at Swarovski Austria, Hannes Erler said the 125-year-old jewellery and crystal juggernaut used open innovation to become an award-winning innovation pioneer.

“We say open innovation is in our DNA at Swarovski because cross industry innovation has always been part of our journey. It has made us the world leading provider of precision cut crystals,” he said.

Pointing to predictions that by 2020 there will be no safe havens from digital disruption, he said that all businesses in all industries must be ready to adapt to new ways of working.

“Someone somewhere has already solved your problem. Find them and connect with them, that’s the challenge.”

L-R: Bernard Lee, Peter Carney, Justyna Dabrowska, Kelly Hutchinson, Anne Laure-Mention, Director Global Business Innovation, RMIT, Matthew Young and Hannes Erler.

Founder of DSI4AU and Pearcey Foundation Deputy Chair, Kelly Hutchinson said she believes everyone has something to share and open innovation is what will enable us to do it.

“It’s about the application of knowledge to a whole other context or industry and being bold enough to take a risk, make a difference and inspire others,” she said.

Culture, speed and failure

Head of Innovation and Product Development at TOLL Global Logistics, Peter Carney said he is often asked what innovation means.

“The best answer I have is – we want to do new and better things, quicker,” he said.

“We have a big pool of talent in Australia, we can draw on that to find solutions that will enable our businesses to innovate and grow.”

When it comes to embracing innovation as a business model, Bernard Lee from Australia Post’s Strategy and Innovation Portfolio said workplace culture is key.

“Culture is critical to making open innovation work. You have to have leaders who believe in an innovation culture,” he said.

“The best innovators are the ones who have failed in the past. You learn a lot when you fail, then you move on and do better.”

Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) Manufacturing Innovation Manager, Matthew Young agreed, adding that culture and fit were important considerations when collaborating.   

“You have to be brutally honest in innovation. When you’re engaging industry with universities, the pace people work at often doesn’t match.”

The Global Business Innovation Conversations are a series of research-driven events exploring the latest innovation predicted to propel the future of business in health, manufacturing and finance. Find out more and register for future events

Story: Grace Taylor


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