Blog post

The power of open innovation

GC Illumination is an Italian company specialised in the design, production and distribution of fixtures for exterior lighting. GC supplies utilities, municipalities and installation companies in Italy and internationally. The company has been operating from its Milan headquarters since the early 60s. The extremely tough economic environment in Italy as well as the growing competition from Chinese manufacturers are putting a lot of pressure on the company to stay ahead of the curve, maintain its market leadership and keep expanding its business in Italy and internationally. When GC's CEO Enrico Conti approached us to discuss the main challenges he was facing as a business, we immediately saw an opportunity to help him with some very tangible support.

GC has an in-house R&D team that works to continuously come up with new and innovative designs for its exterior lighting products. This work is critical as it helps the company to keep driving its revenues and to expand its market share. As a result of their continuous effort, they recently introduced a new LED-based product line that was an instant success. Unfortunately, GC could not fully unleash this product line to areas such as motorways, some urban locations, sports installations and other public spaces due to the illumination coefficients that the lighting fittings are required to have in these areas. This represented a significant lost revenue opportunity for Mr Conti and his company.

With a tight R&D budget and a small team operating from its Milan offices, Mr Conti asked Skipso whether we could come up with a solution. We illustrated our Crowdsourcing in a Box product and we explained how the dedicated platform, combined with our established global innovation ecosystem and targeted outreach could offer him, in a very short period of time, some real tangible benefit at a fraction of the cost of what it would cost him to develop the solution in-house or to fly around the world seeking technical partners to develop the product.

After having captured all of GC's technical requirements, we launched The Green Lighting Challenge. This was a two-month Open Innovation and outreach campaign to help GC identify the most innovative products available on the global market to help them expand their LED-product line and capture new market share. Leveraging our dedicated platform, our existing Cleantech ecosystem and our ongoing outreach support throughout the process, the project was a success. In a short period of time GC received over 60 qualified submissions from experts, scientists and companies in over 20 countries. They short listed three proposals that included one from a scientist in Palo Alto, another great technology developed by a start-up in the UK and a solution from a growing company in Canada. Ultimately, they selected the UK start-up and have since started discussions to sign a commercial partnership and join venture. All this process happened with Mr Conti sitting in his comfortable office just outside Milan!

We believe this is an extremely powerful model that will reshape the way many companies, large and small, do business. Companies that will understand the power of open innovation and crowdsourcing, the ones that will be early adopters in the space, the ones that will adapt their organization to embed these practices within their internal processes, will be the winners in this increasingly competitive (and flat) world.

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