In 2003 Henry Chesbrough, professor at the University of California in Berkeley (USA), described a new model of industrial innovation that began to make an impression on big companies, and which today has become imperative. Open innovation was here to stay.

In the words of the expert, open innovation means using internal and external knowledge flows to accelerate internal innovation, and by doing so expand the markets for the external use of this innovation. As opposed to closed innovation, here the knowledge flows from outside the organisation toward the inside, and vice versa.

This model has bloomed dramatically in recent years, and it is also linked to technological evolution, as explained by the Open Innovation Senior Ecosystem Builder and creator of the Open Innovation Community at BBVA, Ignacio Villoch: “We now have the platforms and tools to collaborate more quickly, and connectivity and social networks allow you to connect people and ideas”.

Open Innovation - insur_space by MAPFRE

There has also been a demographic, generational and mentality shift. “Open innovation is very connected with the collaborative economy, the circular economy, the removal of barriers such as patents… We have come to understand that ideas are used up by sharing them,” adds Villoch.

Although technology is important and has a huge role as a facilitator of digital disruption, the expert also points out that what is most relevant is people’s attitudes: “Culture is a very difficult thing to change in the abstract. With open innovation you have to do an exercise in humility and recognise that in your organisation you do not have all the talent you need.”

To absorb that other external talent, you need to have “a sufficiently porous and permeable membrane, be much more open, giving and receiving,” says Villoch. Among the various initiatives, challenges can be set for universities and business schools, there can be onboardings and mentoring with startups, or you can promote models of acceleration and incubation.

“It is important to find a balance between making use of the resources you have and exploring what is to come. Also having a specific vision and plan of action: what am I going to do with the ideas that people are asking for? How do I implement them? How do I reward them?,” says Villoch.

Open Innovation - insur_space by MAPFRE

This open innovation paradigm presents great opportunities in the world of insurance. “Insurers are riding the second wave of digitisation very quickly. In an industry with so many intermediaries, there are many possibilities to improve efficiency and agility, both in health and life insurance, and with car and home policies,” explains Villoch.

This is why MAPFRE is supporting open innovation through the insur_space programme. Here we offer a collaborative and open space to technology and insurance companies, with the aim of boosting new solutions that generate a positive impact in the sector.

Through this active collaboration, we facilitate the development of new ideas, concepts and products through the pilots and trials that are being carried out by participating startups, always under the guardianship of our experts and with access to real data from our international markets. Open innovation is here to stay at MAPFRE.

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