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How does Open Innovation contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency of R&D processes in multinational corporations?


This article provides a detailed response to: How does Open Innovation contribute to the effectiveness and efficiency of R&D processes in multinational corporations? For a comprehensive understanding of Open Innovation, we also include relevant case studies for further reading and links to Open Innovation best practice resources.

TLDR Open Innovation enhances R&D in multinational corporations by incorporating external ideas and collaborations, leading to more innovative solutions, cost and risk sharing, and faster development cycles.

Reading time: 4 minutes


Open Innovation is a paradigm that assumes organizations can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as they look to advance their technology. This approach stands in contrast to the traditional model of closed innovation, where the Research and Development (R&D) process is tightly controlled and secretive. For multinational corporations, integrating Open Innovation into their R&D processes has proven to significantly enhance both the effectiveness and efficiency of their innovation efforts.

Enhancing R&D Effectiveness through Diverse Input

One of the primary ways Open Innovation contributes to the effectiveness of R&D processes is by incorporating a broader range of knowledge and perspectives. By engaging with external researchers, startups, universities, and even competitors, organizations can tap into a diverse pool of ideas and technologies. This diversity can lead to more innovative solutions and reduce the risk of "reinventing the wheel." For instance, Procter & Gamble's "Connect + Develop" program has been a hallmark example of successful Open Innovation, where the company collaborates with external partners to co-develop new products. According to P&G, this approach has significantly accelerated their innovation pipeline and brought many successful products to market more rapidly than would have been possible internally.

Furthermore, leveraging external collaborations allows organizations to access specialized knowledge and capabilities that they may lack in-house. This is particularly beneficial for multinational corporations that operate in a wide range of industries and markets. For example, pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and AstraZeneca have engaged in numerous partnerships with biotechnology firms to access cutting-edge research and technologies in drug development. These collaborations have enabled them to expand their R&D capabilities into new therapeutic areas and accelerate the development of novel treatments.

Additionally, Open Innovation facilitates a more effective validation process for new ideas and technologies. By engaging with external stakeholders, including potential customers and end-users, during the development process, organizations can gain valuable feedback and insights that can be used to refine and improve their innovations. This user-centric approach to innovation not only increases the likelihood of market acceptance but also helps to identify potential market needs and opportunities that may have been overlooked internally.

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Improving R&D Efficiency through Cost Sharing and Risk Mitigation

Open Innovation also plays a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency of R&D processes. One of the key benefits is the ability to share development costs and risks with external partners. This is particularly advantageous for high-risk, high-cost projects, where the financial burden and risk of failure can be significant barriers to innovation. For example, in the aerospace industry, companies like Boeing and Airbus often form strategic partnerships and consortia to jointly develop new technologies and aircraft models. These collaborations enable them to spread the substantial R&D costs and risks across multiple organizations, making ambitious projects more feasible.

In addition to cost sharing, Open Innovation can also accelerate the R&D process by providing access to existing technologies and research findings. Instead of developing new technologies from scratch, organizations can license or acquire external innovations that complement their internal R&D efforts. This approach can significantly reduce the time and resources required to bring new products and services to market. For instance, tech companies such as IBM and Intel have actively acquired startups and licensed patents to bolster their technology portfolios and speed up the development of new products.

Moreover, Open Innovation fosters a more agile and flexible R&D process. By collaborating with external partners, organizations can more easily adapt to changing market conditions and technological advancements. This agility is critical for maintaining competitiveness in fast-paced industries. For example, the automotive industry has seen a significant shift towards electric and autonomous vehicles in recent years. Companies like General Motors and Ford have embraced Open Innovation by partnering with technology firms and startups to integrate advanced technologies into their vehicles, thereby accelerating their transition to electric and autonomous mobility.

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Real-World Success Stories

Several multinational corporations have successfully leveraged Open Innovation to enhance their R&D processes. Philips, for instance, has established its "High Tech Campus" in Eindhoven, Netherlands, where it collaborates with over 150 external companies and research institutions to co-create innovative solutions. This ecosystem approach has enabled Philips to significantly reduce its time-to-market for new products and technologies.

Similarly, Siemens has implemented an Open Innovation strategy through its "Next47" accelerator, which partners with innovative startups and entrepreneurs around the world. This initiative has allowed Siemens to tap into disruptive technologies and business models, thereby enhancing its R&D efficiency and effectiveness.

In conclusion, Open Innovation offers a powerful framework for multinational corporations to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of their R&D processes. By embracing external collaborations, these organizations can access a wider pool of ideas and technologies, share risks and costs, and accelerate their innovation cycles. The success stories of companies like Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, Boeing, and Philips underscore the significant benefits of integrating Open Innovation into corporate R&D strategies.

Best Practices in Open Innovation

Here are best practices relevant to Open Innovation from the Flevy Marketplace. View all our Open Innovation materials here.

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Open Innovation Case Studies

For a practical understanding of Open Innovation, take a look at these case studies.

Supply Chain Optimization Strategy for Electronics Manufacturer in Asia

Scenario: An established electronics manufacturer in Asia is struggling to integrate open innovation into its operations, facing a 20% increase in supply chain costs and a 15% decline in market share over the past 2 years.

Read Full Case Study

Open Innovation Framework for Cosmetics Industry in Competitive Market

Scenario: A firm in the cosmetics industry is grappling with the challenge of integrating Open Innovation into its product development cycle.

Read Full Case Study

AgriTech Open Innovation Framework for Sustainable Farming

Scenario: The organization in focus operates within the agritech industry, specializing in sustainable farming solutions.

Read Full Case Study

Open Innovation Enhancement in Sports Equipment

Scenario: The organization is a leading sports equipment manufacturer looking to leverage Open Innovation to stay ahead in a highly competitive market.

Read Full Case Study

Open Innovation Framework for Life Sciences

Scenario: The organization is a mid-sized biotechnology company specializing in the development of novel therapeutics.

Read Full Case Study

Open Innovation Strategy for a FinTech in the Digital Payments Space

Scenario: The organization in question operates within the financial services industry, specifically in the digital payments sector.

Read Full Case Study

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Related Questions

Here are our additional questions you may be interested in.

How can companies ensure intellectual property protection without hindering the open exchange of ideas?
Companies can balance IP protection and open idea exchange by implementing a Comprehensive IP Strategy, fostering a Culture of Open Innovation, and leveraging technology and collaborations, as seen in IBM and Philips' success stories. [Read full explanation]
What metrics can companies use to measure the success of their Open Innovation initiatives?
Effective measurement of Open Innovation success involves tracking the number of projects initiated, Time to Market, financial performance metrics like ROI, and stakeholder satisfaction and engagement levels. [Read full explanation]
How can small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) effectively participate in Open Innovation without the resources of larger corporations?
SMEs can effectively engage in Open Innovation by forming Strategic Partnerships, leveraging Digital Platforms, and fostering an internal Culture of Innovation to drive growth and competitiveness. [Read full explanation]
How can cross-industry collaborations enhance Open Innovation efforts and outcomes?
Cross-industry collaborations significantly boost Open Innovation by expanding ecosystems, sharing risks, leveraging diverse expertise for complex problem-solving, and driving sustainable growth through breakthrough products and services. [Read full explanation]
What role does leadership play in fostering an environment conducive to Open Innovation?
Leadership is crucial in creating a culture that embraces Open Innovation by promoting collaboration, encouraging experimentation and learning, and balancing exploration with exploitation for sustained growth. [Read full explanation]
What strategies can firms employ to overcome resistance to Open Innovation from internal stakeholders?
Organizations can overcome resistance to Open Innovation by establishing a clear framework, building an innovation culture, effectively communicating benefits and addressing concerns, and leveraging technology to facilitate collaboration and manage risks. [Read full explanation]

Source: Executive Q&A: Open Innovation Questions, Flevy Management Insights, 2024


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