The secret weapon to fight post-Covid-19 economic crisis: open innovation

Open collaboration between different companies, communities, and other creators in the hope to find original and creative solutions – aka open innovation – can be a tremendous help to overcome a troubled period, whether we’re facing health, economic, or any other type of crisis.

The pandemic brought us a lot of challenges and many are still to come, but we have learned a lot from these last months too. Enterprises worldwide have shown that they were able to collaborate to face a common threat: the spread of Covid-19 infection and concluded what we already knew for more than a decade: open innovation works.

During March, one of the most critical periods in Europe, Siemens launched a platform to connect users, designers, and 3D-print services to speed the design and production of medical components, called AM Network. Similarly, the logistics and purchasing organization Scania started collaborating with Karolinska University Hospital to turn their trailers into mobile testing stations. Moreover, Ford started a partnership with United Auto Workers, GE Healthcare, and 3M to build ventilators and protective equipment for healthcare professionals, such as powered air-purifying respirators and face shields. Most of it was produced in Ford manufacturing sites and using materials and human resources that wouldn’t be effectively used otherwise, as people changed their consuming habits during the quarantine and wouldn’t be purchasing the goods offered by those companies anyway.

But not only companies deployed open collaboration initiatives to help fight coronavirus pandemics. EUvsVirus – considered the biggest hackathon in the world by the Guinness World Records, consisted of an online event launched by the European Commission during April, May, and June. It involved 2235 participants from 40 countries, which resulted in 120 projects.

Open innovation helped European companies and governments reducing the consequences of a health crisis we were not ready for. Through the combinations of their resources and skills, enterprises found out they could adapt their services and products, achieving new consumer segments, and their facilities to produce different products, according to the current needs. But it can be a solution even after the health crisis, especially considering the economic crisis that is already showing.

Analyzing what companies have done differently during the coronavirus most critical period, one of the most obvious aspects is that enterprises trusted each other for important subjects – because they had to. Continue to embrace open collaboration can be the answer to achieve actual disruption. To achieve that, companies shouldn’t be afraid to share information with external collaborators, otherwise, how can fresh minds address their problems with new ideas?

Another aspect to analyze is the fact that companies weren’t afraid to donate their time and resources during the coronavirus crisis, because they knew that would be an effective way to access other skills and assets - it was risky and had unpredictable results – but so were those times. Taking disruptive decisions seems easier than in ordinary times because the motivation of companies is obvious and mutual: to overcome it and to survive with as little harm as possible. After the coronavirus crisis, understanding the partners’ motivation might not be so easy, therefore, trying to identify and respond to their motivation is very important.

Finally, another practice that seemed so urgent and essential during the peak of the pandemics: finding new partners. Innovation requires fresh minds involved, therefore, keeping professional relationships with the same companies can simplify the work and build trust but it hardly brings innovation.

After reading this article, we hope your company is ready to invest and take the benefits of open innovation! If you understood the potential of it but don’t know how to start, don’t worry, because we can help with that! We organize challenges and hackathons together with companies, to achieve innovation with external talent or within the company. Whether the solution appeals to you the most, we can guarantee you one thing: open innovation is the secret weapon to fight the post-Covid-19 economic crisis.

Find more information about our open innovation solutions at, including projects we developed in the past, for example, Fight Covid-19 Online Hackathon, a challenge that involved 125 participants, 5 partners, 7 organizations and 2 premium supports, towards finding solutions for the consequences of coronavirus pandemics.

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