Blog post

5 ways to optimize the open innovation funnel

The only way to outperform your competitors is to develop technological capabilities that enable you to create new, top-of-the-line innovative products and services.

However, your technological capabilities must complement your innovation capabilities, while also adapting to the original model of the innovation funnel to suit your needs.

An open innovation model is a progressive model where ideas can move through multiple stages, evolving further in each one. You must participate in proactive intellectual property (IP) management in order to harness the knowledge and innovation of your company and others tactically. Here we list 5 ways to optimize the open innovation funnel and 9 characteristics of an optimized open innovation funnel.

Rethink your open innovation funnel

1) Solid link with strategy

First and foremost, your process must align with your strategic goals as a company. Through open innovation, you can involve a broader set of assets, both across and beyond the organization.

Not only can you benefit from external innovation, but you can monetize by licensing and selling the end result of your internal innovation efforts. That’s why this process has been called an inside-out or outside-in innovation.

In reference to your phase strategy, you should explore and reframe your challenge, asking questions that attack the challenge from different points of view. The best way to find new solutions is to ask new questions.

In addition, you should also eliminate filters such as “feasibility” or “profitability” so that possible groundbreaking ideas are not killed from the start. It doesn’t make sense to rule out an idea because it’s not feasible, or it doesn’t meet your criteria at this early stage. Strategic thinking helps you to boost productivity, elevate product quality and usability, cut throughput time and reduce operational complexity and costs. So, start integrating open innovation activities into your corporate strategy to diversify your projects.

2) Improve patent quality

Your patent quality should meet all the necessary requirements, so you can improve the capacity of your formal IP system. This will give you more legal protection and predictability. If your company has quality Intellectual property rights, you will easily be able to permit innovators to participate in licensing, cross-licensing, joint ventures and other transactions. You can also educate your innovators on effective intellectual asset management, so they can attract stakeholders and benefit from diverse collaborations.

3) Trade secret protection

Unlike patented technology, a trade secret doesn’t need to be new. It can enhance the sharing of valuable know-how and in order to share, you will need a legal framework that provides guidance and solutions for possible conflict. Even negative information about your company, that could benefit competitors if unearthed, can obtain protection as a trade secret.

4) Flexible process

Having increased flexibility and discipline throughout the process can speed up time to market. Try and steer clear from a bureaucratic process, which can add unnecessary checks and balances. It is also important to integrate improvements, test new doubts and continue to prove the concept. Thanks to real tested information, not only theoretical as it was in the old funnel, you can completely transform your funnel.

5) Effective and complete implementation

Assess and manage risk for more consistent performance and more accurate valuation. If the test is conducted in a controlled environment with limited risk and time, it is more probable that we will get the final approval of a complete project. The key is to define beforehand what you want to learn. What doubts do you want to clear up with your test? Also, choose scenarios that are the most promising, not the most feasible.

Let’s break it down

In addition to the 5 ways to optimize the open innovation funnel, there are 9 core characteristics for its implementation:

  1. Intelligence and insights
  2. Higher value concepts
  3. Strategic alignment
  4. Extended enterprise
  5. Discipline
  6. Flexibility
  7. Speed
  8. Risk management
  9. Valuation

If your open innovation funnel acquires these traits, you will be able to:

  • Reduce time-to-market
  • Improve product development productivity
  • Increase revenue, obtain significant ROI
  • Reduce product life cycle costs
  • Improve design quality and reduce design changes
  • Better executive management leadership in product creation
  • Improve your decision-making process


The main challenges are to increase the value of your funnel by managing speed, risk and sourcing high value concepts. However, the most important decisions are made after experimentation and not earlier as in the traditional funnel model, which decides whether to go to the next step in a more theoretical fashion. You should adapt or simplify your process in this way to meet the needs of each project at hand. Remember that not having all the information to evaluate the risk of a disruptive idea doesn’t oblige us to stop it, but to think about how to maximize opportunities to improve it and to give it the opportunity to move forward. Learn, improve and test again and again with these tools to guide you in transforming your funnel into a new and improved open innovation funnel.

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