Journal of Innovation Management "Innovation labs: leveraging openness for radical innovation?"

Have you heard of innovation labs yet? A growing range of public, private and civic organisations, from Unicef through Nesta to NHS, now run or support units known as “innovation labs”. The hopeful assumption they share is that labs, by building on openness among other features, can generate promising solutions to grand challenges of complex, systemic nature. Labs are potentially fruitful vehicles for leveraging openness for radical innovation. Indeed, labs seek to span organisational, sectoral and geographical boundaries, welcoming a variety of actors, including representatives of business, NGOs, governments, arts, science and local communities. They claim to embrace radical ideas and out-of-the box thinking.

But what are innovation labs really about? How do they differ from other innovation initiatives and intermediaries? Is the way in which labs embrace openness a key factor that defines them?

In the recent working paper written by Lidia Gryszkiewicz, Ioanna Lykourentzou and Tuukka Toivonen we aim to answer these questions. We contextualise and analyse the innovation labs phenomenon, focusing on openness aspects that characterise them. We then compare and contrast innovation labs with other innovation-focused organisational forms – innovation hubs, corporate R&D labs, communities of practice, living labs, innovation networks and innovation task-forces, showing that labs cannot be easily subsumed under any preexisting organisational form or category. Finally, we provide a preliminary lab definition and clarify innovation labs’ unique approach to openness.

#expertise sharing, #thought leadership, #innovation labs, #radical innovation