Pushing the frontiers of entire industries requires more than technology, business environments, ecosystems and smart public policies. Transformational change in major industries requires small and big companies to overcome their competitiveness concerns and utilise their complementary strengths. This is compounded in industries which have complicated value chains such as agriculture and manufacturing, which requires cooperation between multiple stakeholders. Utilising complementary strengths expand the opportunity for greater value creation. Collaboration with small companies provides incumbents with insights of emerging consumer needs and insights on underserved market segments. For small companies, partnerships are an invaluable source of distribution, manufacturing and leverage. Involving stakeholders from the value chains ensures a greater chance of adoption and implementation. Successful innovation partnerships occur when the value of mutual collaboration is bigger than the cost and risk.
The depth of intercompany collaborations continues to strengthen. Strategic partnerships are also manifesting themselves through corporate venture funds of which we have seen a 25% year on year compound growth rate to $25billion globally in 2017 since 2012.
Yet a significant percentage of open innovation programs and innovation partnerships under deliver. A recent survey by Accenture found more than 50% surveyed said these partnerships did not yield as many new product and benefits they had hoped. The success of innovation programs are measured by impact, adoption and implementation yet internal political and cultural barriers are preventing the realisation of innovation programs. An open innovation plan that does not include methods for overcoming internal barriers to adoption are doomed to fail.
Without a multi-layered internal network of supporters, advocates and stakeholders, innovation programs risk silo thinking and will not take into the account the diverse thinking, expertise and ownership required. To ensure implementation, successful innovation programs ensure ownership from all stakeholders. The politics of ‘we did not invent it’, disruption of change and technical implementation challenges are preventing innovations efforts being realised.
Partnerships and consensus are a prerequisite for innovation policy success. Our experience dealing with government policy has identified internal and external multi-stakeholder networks, and relationships which must be incorporated into policy to maximise success.
The networks, partnerships and consensus building are split into three categories, Horizontal, Vertical and Intersectional. Networks are either internal where the capacity lies) within the existing infrastructure (public sector, universities etc) or external where the capacity lies outside of the current domain (industry supply chains, venture capitalists etc)
Policy must focus on building internal consensus within the existing public sector infrastructure. Different government departments, innovation initiatives and innovation assets (such as the university research base), must be aligned to utilise complementary strengths and resources.
Policy must also focus on creating external consensus within the industry to create a culture of mutual value creation between stakeholders. Deep industry partnerships will maximise the chances of adoption. In practice this may look like
Both internal and external networks and partnerships must involve multi-layered networks to avoid a top down approach to innovation. Partnerships must involve customers/researchers, field agents, management and executives. Multi-layered networks will foster equal ownership, provide a diverse set of insights and address adoption hurdles before they arise.