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Top 5 Countries for Open Innovation

by Stefan Lindegaard
September 18, 20109/18/10 9 Comments

Innovation requires a global perspective, which is a key reason for all the travel I do in order to meet with innovation leaders around the world.

Right now, I am in Sao Paulo, Brazil and being here I began wondering which countries do well on open innovation. Brazil is not on this list yet but I am quite sure their time will come. There is just too much potential in this land of opportunity.

So which countries do well on open innovation? This is my quick snap shot.

1. United States. No surprise here. This is where it happens. We have the companies, intermediaries/service providers, top academics and all the best conferences. There are simply too many to mention here.

2. The Netherlands. Philips built a campus that stimulates open innovation long ago and their focus on open innovation is shared by other companies such as AkzoNobel, DSM and Unilever. The Netherlands also has several interesting festivals and events on open innovation.

3. The United Kingdom. NESTA directed a strong focus on open innovation early on which among other things resulted in the spinout consultancy 100% Open. The IfM institute in Cambridge also does great work and among UK companies I really like Psion which has the most outspoken CEO I have met on open innovation

I had no problem on the top 3, but then it actually got more difficult which reflects the next countries on my list.

4. Canada. Perhaps a surprise, but this is where we had one of the first great cases on crowdsourcing; the GoldCorp challenge. Leading intermediary companies such as Chaordix and IdeaConnection are also based in Canada.

5. South Korea. The 5th spot goes to South Korea only for the efforts of LG which try hard to act as a global rather than Asian company when it comes to innovation. Other countries that I considered for this 5th spot were Germany and France.

One question I ask myself is: Where are they Nordic countries? They do well on innovation in general, but they just seem to miss out on open innovation. I hope we will soon see more activity in the Nordic region โ€“ and elsewhere of course.

Should your country have been on the list? Drop a comment and let me know why…

Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. Leo Borj says:

    Not claiming the “open innovation” label but “Usersโ€™ role in innovation” I think the Nordic Innovation Centre seems to by playing an outstanding role:


  2. Stefan Lindegaard says:

    Hi Leo, I fully agree that Nordic companies – and especially Danish ones lead by Lego and Coloplast – are world-class at user-driven innovation, but as you also imply this is not the same as open innovation.

  3. Frank Mattes says:


    I surely miss Gernany on the list.

    Companies like BASF, Bayer, Henkel and so on are benchmarks regarding their overall, multi-faceted OI approach.

    To get a “who’s who” in the German OI, please have a look at



    http://www.handelsblatt.com/_p=316,_t=iframe_cn,frame_url=http://partner.vhb.de/euroforum/openinnovation (In German)

    • Stefan Lindegaard says:

      Frank, in hindsight, Germany should have made the list ahead of South Korea and Canada.

      Great links! Siemens also published an interesting report in the spring: http://www.15inno.com/2010/05/21/siemens/

      I hope I get to spend more time in Germany as there are lots of companies doing interesting stuff as you pointed out in your comment. Thanks for the "local" insights ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi Stefan,

    thanks for sharing your list.

    Regarding The Netherlands and Philips, I've been wondering whether you're attending the 2010 MIT Europe Conference. In fact, among the speakers there will be the

    Senior Vice President and Program Manager Healthcare of Philips Research.

    The program they guy superintends is meant to address the whole innovation needs of Philips Healthcare. And the areas Philips Research covers are quite a lot and very different one from another: imaging systems, patient care and clinical informatics and home healthcare solutions. I see the guy will mention open innovation sooner or later in his presentation.



  5. RalfLippold says:

    Hi Frank, Stefan,

    Germany is maybe on the top of research and institution driven innovation. However open innovation doesn’t fit in the current business world reality in this country (probably it has by 1933 and then after the falling of the wall in 1989).

    My own experience is, especially as I live and work now in the Eastern part of Germany, in Dresden, that there is a certain pressure for companies (of any size) to solve their problems and issues in the “German Engineer”-way: trying the big shot by oneself (first). Only to learn that giving some of the knowledge out into the crowd could open up new possibilities to build up on.

    Working on setting up an entrepreneurial think tank to come across this issue, see more on the blog link, if you wish.

    Best regards, Ralf

  6. Stefan Lindegaard says:

    Hi Ralf,

    I still think Germany is further ahead than many other countries, be perhaps this just say more about the other countries than about Germany ๐Ÿ™‚

    Floriano, Phillips does many interesting things and I try to follow their activities as much as I can. This does not include the MIT event though.


  7. Hi Stefan,

    Thanks for including us on the list at number 3. Much appreciated. I think the english language certainly helps.

    I agree with your top 4 – not sufficiently plugged into SK right now to comment. I’m also seeing quite a bit of activity in Germany and France as well as a lot of interest in Australia and New Zealand. Also interesting point on Nordic countries. What about Denmark and Lego? Danes are definitely big on user-led innovation.

    All the best,

  8. Paul says:

    Finland should definitely be on the list. A few example cases: The OI -developed Linux is the platform for every second computer based system today — Even for Android. The first actually drivable electric car concepts were Finnish OI -projects. Internet "chat" was a Finnish open innovation (IRC), The first mobile phone network systems were developed as open university projects in Finland. etc. etc.
    In a way it is sad that the Finns have developed so many great innovations but originally haven't cashed in on them. Often it has been the Americans who have seen the opportunities in them.