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”. Alternatively, it is “innovating with partners by sharing risk and sharing reward.” 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 (i.e. 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 or spin-offs).
The concept is also related to user innovation, cumulative innovation, know-how trading, mass innovation and distributed innovation.