Let’s explore 5 companies leveraging open innovation. These companies showcase how building efficient external innovation ecosystems can bring tremendous technological advances and business opportunities.


Building upon our previous articles where we defined open innovation and discussed its various forms, let’s now explore 5 companies leveraging open innovation. These companies showcase how building efficient external innovation ecosystems can bring tremendous technological advances and business opportunities. The key to their success has been adapting open innovation to their corporate DNA and current innovation needs.

Shell: GameChanger accelerator program for startups in the energy industry

Shell’s accelerator program, GameChanger helps startups break through barriers. The program’s “fail fast” mindset means the startup, together with technical and business experts from Shell, solve the most pressing issues first, such as manufacturability or scalability.

The GameChanger program is the definition of a mutualistic relationship: Shell equips startups with all the necessary tools for success, allowing startups to grow quickly. The startups in return provide Shell with new technologies to move its business forward.

Michelin & General Motors: Reinventing the tire

Michelin and General Motors (GM) have teamed up to solve a very real challenge in the automobile industry – flat tires. The duo wasted no time and ambitiously set out to reinvent the wheel. Their new 21st-century tire named Uptis (Unique Puncture-proof Tire System) is puncture-proof.

Uptis was only possible thanks to the collaboration and exchange of information between Michelin and GM. The new tire benefits from a powerful go-to-market strategy. Thanks to General Motors, the tire can be factory installed on new vehicles. 

This greatly reduces the risk of commercialization for Michelin and brings a unique innovation to GM vehicles.

Masisa & Ennomotive: Teaming up with inventors for new sustainable solutions

Masisa, a manufacturer of wooden boards, sought to implement a circular economy model to its manufacturing process, however, lacked the necessary expertise. Masisa reached out to Ennomotive, a platform dedicated to connecting companies with engineers, to help solve its manufacturing challenge. Together, they conducted a challenge to solve Masisa’s dilemma. 

The winner was a British engineer named Michael Ankobia. His solution consisted of transforming the woodcut-offs into wooden tiles to replace metal roofing. 

This example varies from others in one key way – it did not involve a company but rather one savvy innovator. One bright mind might be all you need.

Capgemini & Agrics: Applied Innovation Exchange - innovation’s matchmaker

Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Exchange is another great example of open innovation. The program aims to gather startups and their innovative solutions to solve real-world challenges. One success story has been Project FARM (Financial and Agricultural Recommendation Models). This AI-powered platform simplifies complex data for farmers, so they can make better-informed decisions regarding crop production and yield optimization. 

The platform was co-created with Agrics, a social enterprise operating in East Africa. The exchange of technical and local expertise between Capgemini and Agrics was essential for the success of the platform. Without the collaboration, Capgemini would have lacked important insights on African farmers and their local needs.

Microsoft & University of Cambridge: Boosting research in Artificial Intelligence

In the race to beat Silicon Valley to AI dominance, Microsoft is doing everything in its power to stay ahead. Microsoft Research, the in-house R&D department at Microsoft, is teaming up with the University of Cambridge to fund more AI researchers in the United Kingdom. 

The partners will be working closely together to develop machine learning algorithms to tackle obstacles in healthcare, education, and transport. This corporate-academic partnership, not only benefits Microsoft but also academia. Without the funds from large corporations like Microsoft, academic research would lag far behind.

Closed innovation, a thing of the past

These companies are proof that we are in an era of collaborative innovation. Even internal innovation powerhouses such as General Motors and Microsoft have turned to external models. They know from experience that collaborating externally allows them to innovate more quickly, stay more competitive, and ahead of market trends.