Thursday, February 24, 2011

iEverywhere – or challenges in open innovation

Just when I was working on two big i’s in open innovation – incentives and intellectual property - BMW launched it’s new sub-brand BMW i . 

I specifically noticed the founding of BMW i Ventures, a venture capital company in New York City. The objective is to substantially increase the offering of mobility services for BMW. They are looking for “promising services that fit to the BMW i brand and improve personal mobility in urban areas and deliver extra comfort or smart advantages (intermodal travel, smart parking, recommendations, communication etc).” You are asked to upload a business plan (management summary – up to 20 MB :-))  BMW will then review this plan and might eventually invest – the VC is backed by $100 million.
Incentives – money or fame
Now that is one sort of incentive, and there are other innovation challenges that offer monetary rewards in the range from a few $ up to millions. I recently blogged on the Airbus Fly Your Ideas challenge, awarding 30.000 EUR to the winning team.
Another motivation might come from the desire to get a specific product, service or feature. Or just to get a bug fixed in a piece of software. But even here – people begin asking for money before submitting a bug with a detailed documentation for reproduction and potentially some analysis.
It seems as if the classic, altruistic reasons for participating in open innovation such as fun, recognition or curiosity gradually fade away.

Intellectual property
When it comes to copyright, patents and trademarks, the open innovation model faces another challenge. One problem with IP is that it can only be asserted in court – and the jurisdiction differs from country to country. This certainly doesn’t help when you want to collaborate with a global community of unknown people.
So it’s important to establish clear rules regarding IP at the beginning of an open innovation project. There are many different IP models, e.g. the negotiation of IP rights between solvers and seekers as in InnoCentive, open source based on copyright such as in Eclipse or the transfer of all rights such as in Airbus FYI.
What do you think about incentives and IP as challenges for open innovation?

Oh, and by the way: Apple does not have a copyright, a patent or a trademark on the letter i – although they have a pretty impressive list of trademarks.

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