Open Innovation is a term promoted by Henry Chesbrough, a professor and executive director at the Center for Open Innovation at UC Berkeley, in his book Open Innovation: The new imperative for creating and profiting from technology. The concept is related to user innovation, cumulative innovation, Know-How Trading, mass innovation and distributed innovation.
“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”. The boundaries between a firm and its environment have become more permeable; innovations can easily transfer inward and outward. The central idea behind open innovation is that in a world of widely distributed knowledge, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research, but should instead buy or license processes or inventions (e.g. patents) from other companies. In addition, internal inventions not being used in a firm’s business should be taken outside the company (e.g., through licensing, joint ventures, spin-offs)
While open source and open innovation might conflict on patent issues, they are not mutually exclusive, as participating companies can donate their patents to an independent organization, put them in a common pool or grant unlimited license use to anybody. Hence some open source initiatives can merge the two concepts, this is the case for instance for IBM with its Eclipse platform which IBM is advocating as a case of open innovation, where competing companies are invited to co-operate inside an open innovation network.