Open: The Rising Prefix

Posted by Graham Buchanan on Aug 17, 2016 12:01:44 PM

Technology is breaking down barriers everywhere and immersing us further and further into the digital age. As with most things, there are negatives – increased susceptibility to hacking and fraud, trading of illicit goods on the dark web, possibility for greater surveillance and compromised privacy – but also a wealth of opportunities and positive potential. We at InnoCentive have witnessed this potential first hand but open innovation is part of a much broader movement. Whether it’s within programming, data science, government, academia, creative content or even banking, we are seeing an explosion of initiatives built around the principles of openness, transparency and collaboration. In this post, we look at some of the latest developments in the domains that are part of this ‘open revolution’.

Open source

Open source programming requires little introduction, with some of today’s most popular computer and mobile operating systems released under open source licenses and virtually every major piece of consumer tech borrowing from some form of freely available code. In the latest of a long line of victories for the open source movement, last week the US government detailed a pilot program that requires government agencies “to release at least 20 percent of new custom-developed code as Open Source Software”.

Open science

Governments, corporations and academia are all waking up to the rise of open science. We’ve seen the EU commit to an open and transparent approach to science and innovation; the creation of coalitions of scientists and academics calling for no study to be peer reviewed unless the data that underpinned the work is made freely available; and major corporations opening up their R&D facilities to life science start-ups with no strings attached.

Open data

The availability, standardization and applications of open data is ever increasing. With governments and other organizations releasing more and more data into the public domain, cities are becoming smarter and more efficient, new products and services are being created and citizens are able to gain a much deeper understanding of the world they live in. For instance, Transport for London’s open data initiative has facilitated the creation of over 460 transport apps, which includes the widely used navigation service ‘Citymapper’.

Open government

A domain related to open data, open government is perhaps yet to be fully embraced but has undoubtable potential to increase democracy and accountability. We are seeing steps in the right direction with Sri Lanka this year becoming the 110th nation to pass a Freedom of Information law and the growth of projects such as D-CENT, whose tools for direct democracy and economic empowerment are, amongst other things, allowing the residents of Barcelona to define and develop their own policy, Icelanders to submit ideas on how to spend the city budget, and those in Helsinki to be notified when decisions on issues that concern them are made in town hall meetings.

Open banking

Even in some of the traditionally more closed domains we are seeing a shift: in December last year, financial giants JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and the London Stock Exchange unveiled a new open source software project with the potential to completely reinvent how financial markets operate and bring a new efficiency and transparency to stock trading. Then just last week the UK government revealed new measures for ‘open banking’, allowing individuals to move their capital around more freely and giving them greater visibility into their finances.


There is of course a complex web of driving forces behind this trend but right up near the top of the list is the realization that the greatest progress is made when we work together and build upon what is already there. But whatever the reasons, this is happening. The message from the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Junker, was clear - embrace openness or get left behind:

Digital technologies are making the conduct of science and innovation more collaborative, more international and more open to citizens. Europe must embrace these changes and reinforce its position as the leading continent for science, for new ideas, and for investing sustainably

‘Open innovation, open science, open to the world’, European Commission, 2016

Anything we’ve missed that you think should be included? Let us know in the comments below.

InnoCentive are here to help with embracing openness – sign up as a InnoCentive Solver here or speak to one of our consultants about running your own open innovation Challenges.

Topics: Innovation Insights

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