Skip to content


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:

Covid-19 IP Task Force formed at University of Cambridge 

By Dr Frank Tietze

Through the past months, a newly formed “Covid-19 IP task force” at the IIPM Lab at the Centre for Technology Management (CTM), University of Cambridge, led by Dr Frank Tietze, has been trying to understand the role of intellectual property (IP) during the Covid-19 pandemic. As Leverhulme Trust funded visiting professor to Cambridge and the IIPM Lab particularly Ove Granstrand has been actively involved.

In fighting Covid-19 there are many obvious IP issues related to development of vaccines, therapeutic drugs, diagnostic tests and protective gear. However, there are many more subtle IP challenges, such as those related to the various collaborative and open innovation activities that have been initiated during recent weeks across various industrial sectors. Various new partnerships have been established, often in a rush, such as the UK ventilator consortium for which the UK government recently launched an IP insurance scheme. The turbulent dynamics currently at play are impacting established industrial structures, certainly temporary, if not permanently. This industrial restructuring goes hand in hand with IP related challenges and strategic IP choices. New entrants venturing into crisis-critical sectors face IP decisions when repurposing manufacturing capabilities to produce crisis-critical products, for which IP is often owned by incumbents. Incumbent firms, who suddenly face new entrants in ‘their’ sectors, have to decide how to design IP arrangements with new entrants to possibly benefit from new entrant’s innovation efforts in a post-pandemic world.

Initial research activities by the task force have grown into a portfolio of projects including work to identify crisis-critical innovations during pandemics, development of a crisis typology from an innovation and IP perspective, visual mapping of changing industrial innovation ecosystems with its associated IP challenges and a comparative analysis of IP challenges faced by developed and less-developed countries. CTM-IIPM team members have published a number of articles and blog posts, and has been interviewed and quoted by different news outlets. Dr Tietze has been sharing CTM’s Covid-19 related IP research during a recent talk jointly organised by Cambridge Network and the University’s Maxwell Centre. Dr Tietze has also joined the steering committee of the Open Covid Pledge, an international initiative involving colleagues from Stanford, UC Berkeley, University of Utah, Creative Commons and DLA Piper to promote various schemes for the free sharing of IP during the ongoing pandemic. The Covid-19 work on IP has also been featured by the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Cambridge.

A few key outcomes of the research are available here: 

Tietze, F., P. Vimalnath, L. Aristodemou and J. Molloy (2020). “Crisis-Critical Intellectual Property: Findings from the COVID-19 Pandemic.” IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.

Elsen, M., F. Tietze, L. Aristodemou and A. Moerchel (2020). Unpacking the innovation landscape for crisis-critical products, services and technologies in the Covid-19 pandemic. IIPM Blog, University of Cambridge.

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:

Seminar by Ove Granstrand at Lund University

On November 8th, Professor Ove Granstrand held a seminar at Lund University School of Economics and Management, hosted by the Business Law centre ACLU, the IP forum FIF and the IP consultancy firm Valea. The seminar covered research from his book Evolving Properties of Intellectual Capitalism. Based on his two investigations, one national about Sweden and one international, about how patents could be better used to promote innovation for better ends, Granstrand outlines policy recommendations for strengthening innovativeness for economic growth and ultimately for social value creation. Furthermore, a discussion was held about the threat from global challenges, such as climate change and financial crises, and the implications for innovation and technology management.