Benchmark report on open innovation programs and resources completed

The PULSE program (user-centered development of bridging technologies and business support services) took a closer look at open innovation practices around the globe in a recently-completed benchmark study.

IRT Nanoelec’s PULSE program recently conducted a survey of R&D centers with multidisciplinary and open innovation resources. The study was global, with a particular focus on Asia. The conclusions will be used to position the PULSE program’s future Open Innovation Center (OIC).


The past decade has been marked by a new global trend in innovation. Businesses—especially large ones—are to an increasing extent outsourcing R&D in various ways, from open and collaborative innovation to multi-partner and other types of open labs.

Most global research and technology organizations have dedicated facilities for these types of activities. The goal is to speed the transfer of new technologies to businesses seeking to stand out from and stay ahead of competitors by rapidly integrating added value into their products and services.

Technological innovation organizations have also undergone some profound changes recently, focusing on combined technology-push, market-pull approaches; this is because market-pull alone is not effective at driving innovations that align with emerging uses and cannot keep up with the fast pace of innovation in an environment where many products become obsolete in just two to three years.

The IRT Nanoelec PULSE program focuses on transferring the latest micro and nanotechnologies to industries like healthcare, smart homes, and connected transportation and helping manufacturers integrate these technologies into their products and services. PULSE is ramping up the support it gives to IRT Nanoelec partner businesses by offering user-centered, multidisciplinary innovation processes to facilitate the design and development of interconnected technologies that require inputs across the data chain, from sensors to the use of data collected or generated by connected objects.

The benchmark survey was conducted to aid in designing the PULSE program’s future Open Innovation Center, slated to open on the GIANT Campus in Grenoble in 2019. The goal of the survey was to provide insights into questions raised during the research phase of the project (strategies targeting industrial companies; specific resources allocated, from tools and know-how to infrastructure and equipment; systematic use of multidisciplinary approaches; coordination of ecosystems of stakeholders from across disciplines, etc.).

The survey has led to a review of a number of other studies and reports as well as site tours of around fifteen innovation centers in North America, Europe, and, recently, Asia.

The following Asian innovation centers were visited: Nissan, Digital Garage, Impact Hub Tokyo, Tech Shop Fujitsu, Kashiwa No Ha Smart City, and I-School Tokyo University in Japan; Seoul and Gyeonggi Centers for Creative Economy and Innovation, N15, Spark lab, KAIST, Samsung Innovation Museum, and Startup Alliance in South Korea; and A Star/Fusionopolis, NTU Innovation Center Intuitive, Create-NUS National University of Singapore, Sports Hub Singapore, Impact Hub Singapore in Singapore. Observations at these centers aligned very closely with global trends.

The site tours revealed that Asian universities and technology research organizations play a crucial role by leveraging open innovation to help their countries’ innovation stakeholders move up the value chain and export to new markets.

One distinguishing feature of organizations in Asia is partnering between national market leaders and startups to drive technological innovation. One thing worth noting, however, is that the innovations developed by startups under such partnerships are generally not very tech-intensive.

Finally, the development of high-level science parks and strong financial backing from local governments and government ministries is much greater in Asia than in Europe and the United States.