Innovation is the key for competition on today’s markets, but innovating may be increasingly difficult for SMEs given that, more often than not, the development of new products requires very specialized skills that may not be found inside the company. This is where “Open Innovation”, or more prosaically the involvement of external experts, comes into play.
However, effective Open Innovation (OI) requires effective Open Innovation tools. There are hundreds (if not thousand) of “Open Innovation Platforms”, but nearly none of them appears to fully address SMEs needs. In fact, the overwhelming majority of SMEs do not use any platform to get in touch with experts, relying instead on personal contacts, word-of-mouth and intermediaries. Active and sustainable OI Platforms target instead Large Companies, that are more inclined to use specific software tools to identify experts or to streamline the innovation process.
OPENiSME (http://www.openisme.eu) targets this issue, in order to support and increase the competitivity of European SMEs. The assumption is that the lack of OI platform use by SMEs should not (only) ascribed to cultural barriers, but it is caused by the fact that real SMEs needs are not currently met by existing Open Innovation Tools, also due the business model they apply, that can sometime distance SMEs.
Starting from a platform already successfully used by Large Companies, OPENiSME goal is to evolve it to satisfy the (very different) SMEs’ needs, benefitting also from a “platform of platform” approach. The ability to search for expert through analysis of scientific literature allows to get in contact with virtually every researcher in the world, overcoming the limitations that many platforms have in searching for experts or technologies. Intelligent semantic search tools and a carefully designed workflow support SMEs in the expert search.