Thoughts from Ian Spreadborough on LinkedIn on IOBAC’s approach to Open Innovation
With so much great team sport happening recently, it got me thinking about how important the power of the team has been to my work, and in particular, the innovation process.
As a co-founder of IOBAC company, I’ve worked on bringing various revolutionary flooring and walling technologies to market over the years. And one thing is for certain, we absolutely couldn’t have done that by relying on IOBAC resources alone.
Contrast that against the approach that is sometimes adopted by large corporates, where innovation becomes an internal approach, taking place behind closed doors for fear of loss of intellectual property, and it’s a tale of two halves. It’s absolutely understandable why organisations take this approach but it makes me wonder how much more their growth could be accelerated if a more collaborative mind-set was possible.
I strongly believe that you can’t innovate in isolation and at IOBAC, we very much operate on the ethos of open innovation, as summarised in the table below:
For instance, when we needed an alternative resin to complement our existing magnetic flooring system that combined increased grab with sustainable credentials, we teamed up with seasoned inventor Peter Roosen at Castagra Products for his expert knowledge.
And if you are open to collaboration, one new product can evolve to another. In this case, a high grab underlay incorporating the new resin has also been developed by working in conjunction with another company, InstaFloor, opening up new market sectors for IOBAC.
It isn’t always an easy path to take and yes, legalities can get in the way and slow things down sometimes, but if you pick the right partner, these things will be overcome. I think that the key to this is to involve the manufacturer in the process as early on as possible. Where we have found an “intrapreneur” at the manufacturer, who is willing to internally champion new product developments and drive them through to full scale adoption, providing feedback as we go, all parties have succeeded.
A key example of this is IOBAC’s Paul Woolvine close working with the very knowledgeable and supportive Thomas Lutz from approved supplier ICT Intelli-force Magnetix to develop an additive to combine with our metallic resin in order to create magnetic conductive flooring, a new space for us.
And from there, we’ve progressed to our latest heated flooring and walling development, where yet again we’ve worked in close collaboration with an approved supplier to develop an additive which adds amazing properties to our magnetic flooring system.
We certainly couldn’t have done all that by ourselves but new markets have been opened up to us as a result, driving our growth and enabling us to build out a technical roadmap for the future.
This willingness to collaborate with others has also earnt us a reputation with our clients as a technical facilitator. One such example is a global petrochemical company who wanted to use Scanalytics sensor technology with a modular flooring solution. They asked us to work together and the result is intelligent magnetic flooring.
So my message to those bigger organisations would be not to fear being more open to open innovation – slacken off the corporate handcuffs where you can, embrace the opportunities created by external companies , and above all, embrace the new directions that an open mindset will bring.