Bird Feeder My wife and I like birdwatching or birding. For us, backyard birding is a recreational activity. We place several types of bird feeders in our backyard and we fill each with different kinds of bird seed. In particular we like Kaytee Bird Seed from nearby Chilton. Watching the variety of birds at the feeders recently got me thinking, is your open innovation portal inviting like a bird feeder? Do you provide the right seeds of innovation to attract a flock of innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs and/or potential partners?

“Open innovation” is often used to describe collaboration with outside partners to accelerate innovation. So naturally, your open innovation portal should attract and appeal to a variety of individuals and entities. Targets for your open innovation portal should include suppliers, small businesses, university researchers and tech transfer units, inventors, entrepreneurs and your passionate consumers among others.

Different birds like a variety of seeds and the birds will be attracted to your feeder at different times of the year depending on other available food sources. Similarly, you should pay more attention to the needs of the portal users versus your own needs. Do you review, acknowledge and respond to portal submissions in a timely fashion or is your portal just another black hole for ideas?

We need to refill our bird feeders often, especially in the winter months. If you don’t provide bird seed, the birds will go elsewhere. Once established, you need to continually promote your portal, especially to your target groups. Remind them what your portal is and why they should use it. Continue to promote your portal and increase your user base. It is all about building a relationship with your target groups. Something I learned a long time ago, “birds of a feather flock together”.

There are several good examples of open innovation portals in the marketplace: AstraZeneca, General Mills, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever. There are also a variety of partners in the marketplace that can help you build and deploy a successful open innovation portal. A few that come to mind are e-Zassi , ideaconnection and

Fostering a successful open innovation portal is just another “feather” in your innovation cap. Learn more about open innovation at CoDev 2015.

Pat Clusman the Chief Operating Officer at Innovationedge and he is a part of the CoDev 2015 conference planning team. Check out CoDev2015: Launching Products and Business with Partners, Customers & Ecosystems, to be held February 9-11, 2015 in Scottsdale, AZ.

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