Early January, Professor Solomon Darwin was invited to teach on Open Innovation to Indian executives and students from prominent universities, including: Ahamahebad University, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, MICA (Institute of Strategic Marketing and Communication), Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Technology, and the Indian Institute of Management’s International Conference on Creativity and Innovation at the Grassroots. The grassroots program was organized by Professor Anil Gupta who invited academics from all over the world and included an exhibit of international grassroots innovations. The chief guest included the former president of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam. Academics from Russia, China, and India presented their projects and research findings on their grassroots projects. The grassroots ideas varied from an affordable 3D printer to a fuel efficient car, but although the grassroots innovations added value to their communities, many were not as successful in scaling their technologies. Professor Darwin noted that the main issue was that they were not utilizing Open Innovation, and surprisingly, many were not familiar with the technical concept of Open Innovation.
How Can Open Innovation Function at the Grassroots Level ?
Professor Darwin presented Open Innovation as a possible solution to have a successful grassroots movement. So, how do you encourage people to contribute ideas and make them better? Darwin shared that Open Innovation can add value to India’s current business models, and particularly to grassroots projects. He emphasized that Open Innovation is not just limited to formal and corporate organizations, but that it’s just as important to have Open Innovation in the grassroots, as it is in an informal organization. The presentation was well received and was followed by intense discussion on how Open Innovation can help grassroots succeed despite the cultural and political barriers. According to Professor Darwin – “even at the grassroots, Open Innovation has to work.” Thanks to Professor Darwin’s insight, Indian executives and business schools are now curious and eager to learn more about Open Innovation; and are now working towards implementing Open Innovation concepts into their already established business models.
“Open Innovation is the soil for grassroot ideas to blossom” – Solomon Darwin