Social Media and Open Innovation – a Systemic Approach to Commercialisation of Socio-economic Soluti

Dr Leona Craffert, Prof Kobus Visser and Dr Johan Breytenbach did an analysis of Social Media and Open Innovation against the background of the CodeJam project of the CoLab.

They presented a Social Media and Open Innovation- Systemic Approach to Commercialisation of Socio-economic Solutions at the European Conference on Social Media held at the University of Brighton, UK between 10-11 July 2014.

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This experimental case describes an example of a public-private partnership (PPP) to develop a collaborative model for open innovation using social media, with the purpose of addressing socio-economic challenges in the context of a developing country. Open innovation postulates the notion that ownership of processes should be acquired from other enterprises that can afford such levels of research investment, as well as utilising licensing and joint ventures to commercialise internally-generated innovations. However, this multiple channel process is often fraught with mistrust and lack of commitment amongst the participants.

This project proposes a systemic model that optimises innovation through social media and minimizes conflict in the commercialisation of open innovation. Although PPP is a fairly common and advocated approach to challenge complex socio-economic challenges, using social media adds to the complexity of dealing with intellectual property (IP) and/or commercial rights.

In an experimental process entitled “CodeJam 2013”, PPP stakeholders (representing business, government, communities and academia) co-designed a collaborative process to develop and commercialise solutions for specific socio-economic challenges. Ascribing to the notion of open innovation, social media was used as the primary source of ideation. The premise for this experiment was that CodeJam 2013 could provide a safe, commercially non-threatening environment in which competitive and concurrent stakeholders could co-design optimum innovative solutions in collaboration with external (social media) and internal ideators, with the ultimate objective of establishing new paths to the market, i.e. commercialisation.

This process consisted of two distinct phases, namely a defined, neutral and shared intellectual property realm referred to as the co-creation phase, followed by a demarcated incubation phase during which partners negotiated for product development (and thus commercial/IP rights).

From the perspective of business (as a PPP partner/stakeholder) a number of outcomes related to the use of social media for open innovation have been identified, inter alia: limiting business risks typically associated with open innovation; the agreed “safe space” promoted optimal innovation as a result of reduced focus on IP rights; radical transgression of internal business boundaries as a benefit from “out”ternships; benefits for external ideators through learning that occurs as a result of intimate business engagement; realisation that problem complexity can be minimised through team participation; the diffusion of the innovation process across PPP boundaries; introducing the essence of “warm bodies” in the clinical processes of open innovation with social media; successful open innovation based on social media is reliant upon extensive co-creative collaboration, networking and shared responsibility from all stakeholders. In essence, this systemic approach to open innovation based on social media proved to be a viable model and alternative for the development and commercialisation of socio- economic solutions.

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