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Marcus Holgersson

Getting ready for World Open Innovation Conference

We are just about to open the 8th World Open Innovation Conference, 9-10 December, 2021. It was supposed to be hosted at the High Tech Campus, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, but due to the recent increase in Covid-19 cases it has been moved completely online.

The conference team has worked hard to redesign the conference to a fully digital format, and we look forward to two days of great fun and lots of discussions about open innovation.

More information available here:

Marcus Holgersson received Best Teacher Award 2021

Marcus Holgersson recently received the Best Teacher Award from the students in the Industrial Engineering and Management program at Chalmers University of Technology. Holgersson received the award for his innovative and fully digital course design and pedagogy in the course Innovation Economics, taught to 3rd year students.

Marcus Holgersson in dialogue with Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath in one of the course videos

7th Annual World Open Innovation Conference

Our researcher Marcus Holgersson recently co-organized the 7th World Open Innovation Conference together with Henry Chesbrough and many other researchers in the field of open innovation. The conference was supposed to be organized at UC Berkeley, but was moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A couple of hundred academics and practitioners met online to discuss academic research and industry challenges. Some of the highlights were the keynotes by Henry Chesbrough, Alexander Osterwalder, and Maryann Feldman. In addition to co-organizing the conference, Marcus Holgersson chaired a session on Open Innovation, Ecosystems, and Secrecy. He also chaired the Academic Award Session.

During the conference Henry Chesbrough launched a special section of California Management Review focused on open innovation, co-edited by Marcel Bogers, Henry Chesbrough, and Marcus Holgersson. For a limited time, this special section and its articles can be accessed freely via links that we have collected here:

Read more about the conference here:

The important role of competition in successful ecosystems

By Marcus Holgersson

The innovation ecosystem concept has flourished during the last decade. Go to any conference with a business theme and you will hear presenters discuss their firms’ ecosystems, and how their businesses are part of these larger communities which jointly create value for customers. But what does the innovation ecosystem concept actually mean, and what are the critical components that need to be considered when building or surviving in an innovation ecosystem?

In a recent article that I wrote together with Prof. Ove Granstrand we review the academic literature and its definitions of innovation ecosystems. We find that there is an unbalanced focus on collaboration between actors and on complementarities between products and/or services, while the role of competition and substitution between actors and artifacts (such as products) is often left aside. This, we argue, is a critical flaw in the current discussion on innovation ecosystems. Let’s look at some examples to illustrate our point.

Apple is one of the most successful ecosystem builders of all time. Its ecosystem has successfully combined collaboration and complementarities, creating a superior and seamless customer experience while simultaneously introducing competition between application providers and their apps to ensure innovation and price pressure among complements. Apple struck the right balance between competition and collaboration in different parts of its ecosystem, and it did it at the right time.

There are much older examples as well. Remember those old video cassette recorders (VCRs)? The introduction of VCRs is by now a classic case, and it shows that both collaboration and competition is needed for the success of an ecosystem. JVC’s VHS standard, which eventually became dominant, was neither first nor technically superior when it was introduced. Instead, Sony was the first mover with its Betamax standard. So how could VHS outcompete Betamax? Part of the explanation lies in the fact that JVC allowed other firms to relatively cheaply use its standard. While this move meant that JVC had to compete against its own technology, it also led to a growing flora of complementary hardware and content and to healthy competition between the ecosystem members. In other words, JVC allowed competition for its ecosystem to be competitive.

We can even trace the concept back to its roots in biology and ecology to illustrate the importance of competition. In nature, competition is just as important as collaboration for the health of ecosystems. For example, when wolves were extirpated from Yellowstone National Park in the 1920s, other species such as elk grew rapidly, in turn leading to overgrazing and a negative spiral in the overall health of the ecosystem. The wolves’ competitive role was crucial for the ecosystem’s wellbeing, and since 1995 the wolves are reintroduced in the park. So if you are trying to build an innovation ecosystem, or if you are aiming at entering one, don’t forget to consider the competition within the ecosystem in order to succeed.

Licentiate thesis successfully defended

Yesterday was a big day when Sarah van Santen defended her Licentiate Thesis, with the title Understanding the Role of Intellectual Property in Digital Technology-based Startups: Decisions and Dynamics. She did a wonderful job. Prof. Pia Hurmelinna provided constructive feedback and led the discussion. The thesis is available here: