Open innovation is opening one company’s innovation process to external knowledge (ideas, technologies, patents), expertise and know-how. In addition, it also refers to a best use of intellectual property (IP) giving it value through external initiatives (spin-off, licensing, transfer).
Open innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology
Chesbrough, H.W. (2003)
Innovation process opening, from idea to concept, prototype and then innovation, may be therefore made inside-out and outside-in: integrating outside knowledge or offering one company’s own unused knowledge to external entities. It is difficult to identify the stage this opening must be done, regarding the ratio risk / profitability.
Cooperation terms differ according to the innovation sources beyond R&D (customers, suppliers, public and private labs, universities, start-ups, even competitors on new markets or new activities).