MeKiwi’s growth and development is based on the principles of open innovation. They have boosted productivity and efficiency and increased the number of business opportunities. We want to share our approach to open innovation with others, as the topic is becoming increasingly popular. Open Innovation is an important part of the European Union’s next framework programme, Horizon Europe.

Open innovation is based on knowledge and technology sharing and collaboration between companies. Cooperation has contributed significantly to MeKiwi’s rapid development and growth.

MeKiwi was one of the companies surveyed in a study on the innovation process of start-up companies carried out as part of the Oulu Innovation Alliance’s “Accelerating Innovation” project. The study was also used as the basis for a PhD thesis at the University of Oulu School of Economics.

The thesis divided the innovation process into three stages. In this blog, we describe how we have implemented open innovation at these stages, using the digital learning solutions we have developed as examples. These sections are structured according to the appropriate open innovation principles.

We don’t need to do our own research to create business

Finding business opportunities and identifying resources are part of the first stage of the innovation process. The partnership with PlayGain provides open innovation on both sides. The involvement of MeKiw provided PlayGain with the necessary resources to commercialise its research activities. PlayGain, on the other hand, offered MeKiwi the opportunity to do business with its own knowledge capital. The result of this collaboration is Productive Manager, an educational game for managers and HR professionals, based on research on the link between well-being and productivity.

We don’t need all the top talent to work for us

In the actual implementation phase, projects need the right combination of knowledge and skills. This is done both by strengthening internal skills and by acquiring them from outside. MeKiwi has been able to grow by taking on progressively larger and more challenging projects. Success in combining internal and external expertise is an important factor in this.

The cooperation with Yrityskylä, which teaches youth economic and working life skills, started with the renewal of teaching materials for the Upper and Lower Secondary Schools and the construction of a comprehensive Teacher portal enrolment system. The collaboration will now continue to produce the VR solution to be released later. This was made possible by MeKiwi’s active involvement with the Oulu Game Lab. By participating in Oulu Game Lab events and coaching students, game entrepreneurs have kept up to date with the growing body of knowledge. Among the students in autumn 2018, a VR team stood out, ready to go straight to work. MeKiwi recruited the whole team, which allowed us to create the ideal mix of skills for the different projects. The development teams will continue to be supported from outside the company as necessary. Reliable partners include Kaamos Games, Happy Hobgoblin and Reforged Studios.

The best combination of internal and external ideas

The final stage of the innovation process is delivering the product to the customer or launching the product on the market. This phase also includes the subsequent updates and maintenance activities. From an innovation perspective, this links back to the previous step, where the right mix of knowledge and skills will determine success.

The support provided by public actors in the innovation ecosystem should be utilised. Fairs are a great place to network with other entrepreneurs and experts. A trip to the BETT2019educational technology fair organised by the Future of Smart Learning Environments project gave us a valuable insight into developments in the sector as a whole.

Taking a product to market often involves participating in international trade fairs. BusinessOulu business services’ export-related services, such as export promotion trips, are an important enabler of internationalisation for small businesses. VRKiwi, MeKiwi’s virtual reality games division, has travelled to international game fairs with our own product, VR Cave Digger. Our own marketing team is complemented, where necessary, by Kuvion, a games marketing digital company.

Travel to trade fairs also plays a role in how future solutions are produced. Participation in trade fairs increases understanding of customers and the industry. At the fair, you can find partners to collaborate with and share ideas. This will help identify business opportunities and resources. A new innovation process begins.

“I don’t know if it makes sense to distinguish between external and internal innovation,” says Samuel Kuosmanen, CEO of MeKiwi. “Both are the result of interaction. Let’s try to understand what it feels like from another’s perspective. That is why all networking events are valuable. We have always been curious and often participated in innovation services and events.”

Involvement in training organisations, for example as mentors, has proved particularly useful.

“We have both made great recruits and got great ideas from the events,” summarises Kuosmanen. MeKiwi is about to start a programme where employees are able to spend a certain amount of working time developing their own ideas. ” Let’s create the conditions for innovation by giving people the freedom during their training to put their ideas into practice, and develop the skills they want to develop.”

MeKiwi’s practical approach to open innovation

Open innovation creates opportunities, especially for a small company in its early stages, which still has the capacity for rapid change. MeKiwi’s approach to open innovation has evolved from a practical need to generate business and an attitude of not leaving the customer alone. We offer comprehensive solutions and bring together the resources you need. At the same time, our own capacity for ever more ambitious development work is growing.

Why is open innovation important now?

The commercialisation of research offers opportunities for small technology companies that are able to operate according to the principles of open innovation. Right now, significant investments are being made in this area.

Horizon Europe is the European Union’s future framework programme for research and innovation for the period 2021-2027. The programme covers support for research and innovation from the idea stage to market launch, complementing national and regional funding.

One of the three pillars of Horizon Europe is open innovation. It includes the challenges of translating research results into marketable innovations. This will be done by developing innovation ecosystems and supporting the commercialisation and scaling-up of innovations.

On 7 June 2019, information about Horizon Europe will be available especially for ICT companies at the Tellus Innovation Arena at the University of Oulu.

At the Horizon Europe and ICT event on 7 June from 8.30-11am, you can also listen to MeKiwi’s Customer Success Manager Jonna Ranta, who will be happy to talk about commercialisation of research and other innovation issues. Come have a chat with Jonna!

Jonna can also be reached by phone on (+358) 50 307 6756.


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