Open hand beach
Jillian Moffat

Jillian Moffat, Head of Open Innovation, Scottish Enterprise

What does ‘open innovation’ mean, exactly?

Henry Chesbrough, a professor at the Haas Business School, UC Berkeley, defines it as: “the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively.”

To put it more simply, it’s about engaging with external experts to define and identify problems (technical or otherwise) and help implement the best solution.

Historically, companies have invested in large research and development departments to help drive innovation and drive sustainable growth. But this model is slowly disappearing.

What’s emerging is a more open approach to ideas, as companies begin to recognise that not all of the best people work for them, and begin to look outside their own boundaries.

At Scottish Enterprise, we’ve embarked on a four year open innovation programme. Through an ‘open’ invitation to participate, we’ve contracted with 13 private and public sector organisations. A year into the programme, we’re very excited by the size, diversity and potential of the opportunities available – and we’re looking forward to helping the SME community embrace them.

Designed to help boost Scotland’s global competitiveness, the open innovation programme aims to stimulate collaborative innovation amongst Scotland’s SMEs and in turn, support local and global market development.

A trail-blazing programme for Scotland, this initiative will significantly increase the demand for new innovative products and services from our SME community.

We’re forecasting to develop new markets and help to issue at least 150 new challenges for innovative solutions over the lifetime of the programme.

Through the process of these challenges, we’re hoping to engage with more than 1,000 small businesses, in the provision of solutions for company challenges – helping them generate new turnover and market opportunities.

Engagement with business can bring tangible benefits for Higher Education Institutions, including case studies for teaching, new field research methodologies and management techniques. Academics can develop invaluable skills and necessary experience working with external partners.

So, look out for the challenges…and get ready to respond to them! Visit to view the current opportunities.

16 November 2016