Business schools have everything they need to extend the possibilities of open innovation throughout their value chain, by applying their knowledge to developing solutions, involving internal stakeholders and using their own spaces as environments for validating ideas into solutions.

It's possible that the reader's first thought, when faced with this title, is something like "the author must be Brazilian or, at most, from Alentejo". Not at all: the gerund is here to remind us that everything in life is a continuum in transformation - which includes topics as disparate as genetics (edited), mining (in space), energy (what's next?) and open innovation, which impacts every organization that reads Exame. In this case, a transformation process where more stakeholders, with a broader perspective in terms of the process, can make it happen starting in a business school.

Over the last 20 years, the concepts and practices of Open Innovation have been redefined to keep up with the spirit of the times. Although Henry Chesbrough's original work is not directly governed by this model, in fact the most widespread understanding of its implementation has essentially been the competitive advantage generated by technology-based business models that are accelerated thanks to the intervention of external stakeholders, namely startups.

However, almost a quarter of the way through the 21st century, the classic funnel of Open Innovation theory and practice has been expanding. Not only because digital technologies have come to be seen in an agnostic way, as a means to multiple ends, but also because many more strategic partners have gained prominence in building possible futures for a business: communities, creative consumers, researchers, donors, investors, students, entrepreneurs, startups, other companies in the sector, policymakers, and many more.

This broad group of agents is accompanied by another change: their participation is no longer mainly geared towards generating ideas and business possibilities to be developed further, but is now part of the entire value chain as theoretical, empirical and validation collaborators. The innovation value chain can now be managed openly from end to end - from defining an innovation portfolio and generating insights to intellectual property and scalability. This means not only a diversity of ways of being, but above all a diversity of technical roles, as fire-starters, builders, and managers work and contribute consecutively to bridge the gap between strategy, explore, and exploit.

This movement fits perfectly in Academia, particularly in management and economics business schools, insofar as all the areas of knowledge linked to these disciplines are needed to move up this value chain. Although they don't necessarily carry out the "classic" fundamental research that characterizes the technological transfer from academia to the market, business schools have everything needed to carry out the knowledge transfer that strikes a balance between the dimensions of market and society, innovation and management, future and present business, critical thinking and pragmatism, disruption, and a systemic view of its consequences.

Thus, this reimagining of Open Innovation from a business school generates tangible benefits for an extended academic community , which does not intend to remain isolated and wishes to use its transformative power to respond to a society and a business environment that needs more if the change we wish to see in the world is to actually happen.

When a business school takes on the possibility of being the driving force behind projects from campus to market, from market to campus and from campus to campus, the knowledge produced there is translated and disseminated in new formats and contexts. This structure can be applied to building systemic prosperity from internal research or from other areas of knowledge that need to be transformed into solutions, as well as from the insightful vision of students and entrepreneurs with an international mindset, who have a connected opportunity radar capable of validating new business ideas while learning how to build them.

This applied experimentation fully embodies the spirit of Project / Problem Based Learning (PBL) as an effective teaching approach for business and the economy. In this context, the expected third pillar of the university - the transfer of knowledge to serve society, in addition to teaching and research - is gaining the strength and prominence it deserves in the 21st century. A school with a set of actions that position it as a living laboratory naturally opens its doors to diversity, collaboration, and use cases applicable in the economic environment - everything a country needs to gain competitiveness in a structural way.

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This text is a republication of an article published in Exame - read the original here.

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Published in 
12/1/2024
 in the area of 
Innovation & Change

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