Paper Products and Packaging: a Nexus for Open Innovation

Posted by Michael Franklin on Jul 8, 2016 9:19:48 AM

More than any time in history, diverse industries, companies and organisations are opening up their processes to a global crowd in the hope of expediting progress and finding diamonds in the rough. One industry that has certainly taken up the open innovation approach is paper products and packaging; the nexus of many scientific disciplines, the diverse technology uses, and the real-life applicability have made this a hot-bed of crowdsourcing Challenges. Whereas more nebulous or abstracted problems may struggle to gain traction on a web-platform, the tangible impact of solutions in the packaging space give a direct reason for Solvers to participate. With growing consumer demands, tightening environmental regulations, and lower costs desired, packaging firms have been quick to use online crowdsourcing and leverage this tangibility to access the power of perspicacious global minds.

 InnoCentive have more than ten years of experience writing & solving packaging based Challenges; this longevity, multiplicity, and diversity have meant it is a field of strength for our Principals, along with our crowd.

 From Challenges searching for Improved or Replacing Cardboard, to those looking for Detection and Quantification of Air Bubbles, or Packaging Solutions for Temperature Sensitive Products, there is not only a history of Challenges, but also a history of success. All three prior-mentioned Challenges had optional awards and Seekers deemed solutions worthy enough of paying out in each of these occasions. As a secondary marker of Challenge engagement and performance, packaging-based Challenges frequently see Project Room* numbers in the four, five or six hundreds (even in the thousands). InnoCentive has developed a Global Solver Network that recognises the importance of these Challenges, and by positioning the problems through our Challenge Driven Innovation methodology, Solvers can utilise their ingenuity to present high-value solutions.

 However, despite this wealth of experience and expertise, there is no guarantee of success. As an example, the Biological Contamination & Microleaks in Plastic Bag Packaging Challenge failed to receive a satisfactory solution. Nonetheless this is not to say that a withdrawn Challenge is without value – it could reassert known issues, reaffirm future research areas, or readdress strategic goals by highlighting an issue that may be currently insurmountable.

 A secondary warning that must be associated with packaging-based Challenges is whereby companies with no direct control over their packaging manufacturing or direct responsibility for implementation of innovations in this space, wish to run Challenges here. It is one of the great pitfalls of crowdsourcing and thus something we stress to clients – can you take direct action on a solution? If a perfect solution is found, is there a road-map to implementation? Requesting a new design, technique or process which you then must ask a supplier to implement can lead to complications and delays; thus we stress that clients know how the post-Challenge work will proceed before beginning this type of Challenge. The worst outcome possible for all involved is a great solution, which then never sees the light of day. 

 Packaging-based Challenges could be considered the perfect use of crowdsourcing; a problem that can be extrapolated to many different expertise areas; a tangible real world impact that most of us interact with on a daily basis; and frequently a public-good element as societies seek to become less wasteful and more efficient. Whether garnering insights from chemistry, material sciences, engineering, manufacturing processes, nanoscience or many others, packaging Challenges are uniquely positioned to access diverse Solver expertise and leverage multidisciplinary mindsets to receive cutting-edge solutions.

 If you’d like to find out more about running your own Packaging crowdsourcing Challenge, please feel free to get in contact here: https://www.innocentive.com/contact-innocentive

 *Project Rooms are where Solvers register for a Challenge but they may not go on to submit a solution.

Topics: Innovation Insights, Challenges

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