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Software houses lead the open innovation trend

Ian Grant

Software houses were the big winners in the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts' (Nesta) Open 100 competition to find global firms that excel at open innovation and exploit the power of mass collaboration.

Nesta said open innovation is a growing trend that allows new ideas, solutions and markets to be sourced from external partners rather than internal R&D departments.

A Nesta survey of FTSE 100 businesses found 57% planned to increase their level of open innovation.

The winners were:

  • Open Innovation: McLaren, the F1 car builder whose adapted predictive software is being used by National Air Traffic Control Service to predict airports' detailed traffic movements two hours before they happen.
  • Crowdsourcing: Cloudmade, which offers a Wikipedia-style process for producing maps by tapping into thousand of contributors around the globe and a programming interface to build smarter maps.
  • Co-creation: WikiHow, which provides simple solutions to everyday problems by applying the wisdom of crowds and categorising it into useful and freely accessible 'how to' manuals. In February 2010 it had 25 million visitors, making it a valuable platform for advertising, which forms its core revenue stream.
  • Open Source Software: Open Office, which has become a "worthy competitor" to Microsoft's Office suite, showing how open source projects can create consumer-grade products.
  • Open Business: Zopa, which provides a peer-to-peer lending platform where individuals can lend and borrow from each other without a bank as a middleman.

The judges were Marc Surman, director of the Mozilla Foundation, Vic Keegan, technology correspondent at the Guardian, Andrew Gaule, founder of the H-I Network, Roland Harwood, director of open innovation at Nesta, and David Simoes-Brown, head of corporate open innovation at Nesta.


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