We all are experiencing a pandemic that has completely altered human behaviour and lifestyle. During these days, people turn to technology to deal with their daily tasks. Smart working, remote studying, online shopping and services have become the new normality. This social isolation has separated us physically but technology has united us. After dealing with our tasks and responsibilities, we still feel the need for sharing, discussion and communication with others which is shown by an increase in the social media presence in our lives. Social media has become a voice of governments and health care organisations and has also connected many people and companies in the joint struggle against Covid-19.
How can open innovation help?
We need a global effort to develop an effective vaccine to counter the new coronavirus disease. Seeking a solution requires collaboration between many health agencies, researchers, labs, public and private sectors. Open innovation is an excellent and fast tool for establishing collaborative projects. There are many examples that prove that successful cooperation between companies can find solutions that respond to Covid-19 challenges.
Ventilators were urgently required by hospitals to save peoples’ lives. Consequently, manufacturers, aerospace companies and carmakers brought their efforts together to increase the production of ventilators at short notice. Ford Motor Company has established cooperation with 3M, General Electric Healthcare and UAW (United Auto Workers) to meet the need for medical equipment, producing Powered Air-Purifying Respirators for health care workers, plastic face shields and ventilators for coronavirus patients.
Siemens AG is another good example of responding to the Covid-19 outbreak. This company is making the Additive Manufacturing (AM) Network that “provides an advanced cloud-based solution to foster collaboration and process orchestration between engineers, procurement and suppliers of 3D printed parts”.
Adidas teamed up with Carbon to produce 3D printed face shields to support healthcare organizations and Nike, together with Oregon Health & Science University, is responding to an urgent need for respirators and lenses.
All these examples above show the true value of open innovation during this pandemic. Open innovation not only means the collaboration between technology companies but many others that have found innovative ways to transform their services.
Hospitality for Hope Initiative is offering to temporarily modify hotels into housing for emergency and healthcare workers or for those who require quarantine.
Henry Chesbrough, Faculty Director of the Garwood Center, has given his advice for companies responding to Covid-19: “Many of your most challenging problems might benefit from solutions from others in different places around the world. Share some of these problems, along with their relevant scientific and technical data, on open platforms, so that anyone with the interest and knowledge can offer their ideas on how best to address the problem. Be sure to include users in your search for new opportunities.”
In times of crisis, international collaboration and knowledge sharing become essential and valuable for the future of society.