Open Innovation networkOI-Net is the European Academic Network for Open Innovation. It was the EU co-financed project by the Lifelong Learning Programme under ERASMUS designed to promote cooperation on open innovation (OI) topics in European Higher Education curricula and institutes for the benefit of EU competitiveness. The aim was to facilitate European cooperation by outlining and exchanging up-to-date concepts, and good practices in open innovation and open innovation education. It identified the needs, challenges, and obstacles of public and private sectors in the exploitation of open innovation.

It was lead by LUT - Lappeenranta University of Technology (FIN) and regroups 52 partner organisations from 35 European countries.

Before the OI-Net project, only some curricula on Innovation Management exist without properly dealing with OI in terms of Higher Education (HE). Only a very few HE Institutes (HEI) added some modules/options and even fewer credits on it OI issues. Based on the convergence of the analysis by the various practitioners and research networks, the need to include OI as a full teaching discipline has to be fulfilled to cover the job market needs and the competitiveness of the European enterprises.

The resulting OI-Net European curricula framework on OI in Higher Education ensured:

  • a common view of what should be in at European level to support mobility,
  • a large coverage of all the dimensions (cultural, sectors, levels, ...) were included into OI curricula, thanks to this multi-actors cooperation within the knowledge triangle fostered by HEIs,
  • a multi-level structure of the curricula framework to enable adapted implementation of OI knowledge, skills and competences as a full OI curricula, as self-standing units on OI to be incorporated in other curricula, as modules with sub-unit credits to be added in other training, or as a-la-carte components to be included or recognised in terms of professional learning paths.

OI-Net contributed develop the European education, which nurtures new innovations and European competitiveness. It promoted researchers' mobility in Europe. These have been key issues already in Lisbon strategy and key initiatives in EU 2020 smart growth and Innovation Union Agenda where the objective is to create new products/services that generate growth and jobs and help address social challenges. The project tureds innovation research into new and better services and products through the education given in European HEIs. This contributed for Europe to remain and improve its competitiveness in the long run on the global markets. Ultimately this will improve the quality of life in Europe, which is very current topic at the time of the current crisis.
Current economic crisis has made challenges in EU even more pressing. Europe's lower growth than its main competitors is largely due to a productivity gap. This is caused in part by lower levels of investment in R&D and innovation, insufficient use of information/communications technologies, and difficult access to innovation in some sections of society. A major challenge, our society needs refocus R&D and innovation policies and strengthen every link in the innovation chain, from 'blue sky' research to commercialization. One of the key incentives is to raise the quality of teaching and training in Europe. European universities, in general, rank poorly in global terms.

The consortium covered most of LLP countries (35 countries including one new LLP country). It brought together universities, which aim to focus on the innovation management education and where OI research and education receive special attention. OI enabled more effective R&D processes, which answered the call of Innovation Union to make Europe more innovation friendly place where R&D investments lead to efficient results. Consolidation of European education in innovation management was also an issue where this network wanted to make the European cooperation stronger. In the 35 countries, only Luxembourg didn't directly have a University as partner of the network; however, the TUDOR research organisation was directly connected with the university and, as TUDOR was already well ahead in terms of Open innovation, the University decided to follow up with TUDOR.

The dissemination and exploitation plans also ensured supplementary universities to join the OI-Network, from already existing partner countries, from more LLP countries and from third countries as well. The partnership also included several European networks which leveraged dissemination and university involvement as well:

  • MAC-Team and the European University-Enterprise network,
  • ISPIM-the International Society for Innovation Management,
  • TII the European association for Technology Transfer and Innovation via Innowise,
  • EMFD-the European Foundation for Management Development, and
  • ERACON-the European association of Erasmus Coordinators).

Thanks to the geographical scope of some partners (ISPIM, TII, MAC-Team), OI-Net also did its best to promote results and the European OI curricula framework to third countries.

To develop the innovation thinking in Europe and to make the HE innovation management answer the business needs and the recovering from the crisis, the OI concept is required and has to be integrated further into the European HE curricula. Presently, European research is well ahead on OI, and EU should not let that knowledge and competitive advantage been exploited and taken up by other countries outside Europe. The OI-Network aimed to focus on education, to tune OI in HE systems, to raise the standards in innovation education across Europe, and to make EU the international reference for OI in HE.
In addition to the OI Platform, which reinforced a European culture of OI to be internationally recognized, OI-Network federated and developed a European Community of Practice on OI and HE in relation to the Knowledge Triangle. This was supported by the willingness to develop an observatory on these issues in order to build evidence and materials for think tanks and policy makers.
According to recent European OI policy studies, OI can bring advances in education and human capital development by increasing meritocracy in research funding and supporting enhanced mobility. OI helps in promotion of cooperation and competition by shifting support from nationally best companies towards SMEs. Finally, it promotes spin-offs and innovation networks.

References at initial phase:

  • European Commission. Europe 2020 smart growth priorities.
  • Open innovation reports:
    •  Open innovation in Europe: effects, determinants and policy (3.95 MB) by DG Enterprise, Unit D1 Policy Development for Industrial Innovation
    •  Unlocking the Digital Future through Open innovation, An Intellectual Capital Approach (8.54 MB) by DG INFSO/CONNECT 

Supplementary reference: the Open Innovation 2.0 Yearbook 2013 by Europa - Digital Agenda for Europe