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Unilever’s Open Innovation Model Fundamental to Achieve Sustainable Growth

Unilever’s Open Innovation Model Fundamental to Achieve Sustainable Growth

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Mar 31, 2012
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Unilever’s Open Innovation Model
Fundamental to Achieve Sustainable Growth
March 30, 2012 | By: Gianluigi Cuccureddu 
Global FMCG player Unilever has launched a new online platform whichoffers experts the opportunity to help the company find some of the technicalsolutions it needs to achieve its ambition of doubling the size of its businesswhile reducing its environmental impact. Unilever has a long track-record of 
collaborating with partners to develop products, but it’s the first time that
itsresearch projects have been shared so publicly in an open forum.
This time Unilever’s efforts go a step further by
“wants”,key areas in which the company is seeking help. The “Wants”
listed onthe new platform span across Unil
ever’s commitment to both
reduce its environmental impact and increase its positive social impact.For example: Technologies that can bring safe wate
r to the world’s poorest
for less than one cent per litre.
New active ingredients for our cleaning products which inactivateviruses
without relying on bleaches, strong acids, or alcohols.Lighter and more sustainable packaging which will cut the weight,quantity and waste of our product packaging.Laundry products and technologies that allow consumers to getsuperior washing performance using lower temperatures and lesswaterTechnology which allows us to further reduce the amount of sodium in food
without affecting our products’ great taste.
 Roger Leech,Unilever Open Innovation Scouting Director said: 
“Our global research and development teams consistently make
innovation breakthroughs which keep Unilever at the forefront of product development and design.But we know that the world is full of brilliant people with brilliant ideas,and we are constantly looking for new ways to tap into this potential byworking with partners who have a fresh, serious approach to developingexciting new technology.Smart collaboration with partners gives both parties the freedom to dobusiness in new and invigorating ways
creating shared value along theway. It brings together the expertise and experience of our sustainableinnovation capability with new thinking and creativity from partners,creating new business models in which ideas flourish.A successful Open Innovation model will be absolutely fundamental tous achieving our ambition of doubling the size of our business while notonly reducing our environmental impact, but increasing our positive
social impact too.”
Social media as open innovation accelerators
In a previous article,I outlined how social media and
technologies canhelp the open innovation process to be faster, better and cheaper in orderto keep Unilever at the forefront of product development and design anddouble its business.
In Unilever’s case social media will enable to gather ideas faster,
opening up the Wants to a global audience. Better ideas can arise bytapping into niches and specialisms of collaborators and cross-polinationof knowledge.Cheaper because the process itself can be iteratively validated anddirected, plus the time-to-market diminishes as collaborators act asadvocates for the co-created solutions.
Engagement is key
Long term engagement is key and challenge, keeping people interested,in the loop and Unilever on top of mind. Engagement is needed topromote and create visibility on the Wants, the existance of the platformin order to attract the right people to collaborate with.
Attract and seek
Attracting the right people to the right challenges via the transparency of social media is one way. The second way is by actively seeking the rightpeople, making sure they will be found to collaborate. This wayUnilever and the open innovation platform will benefit from outside-inattention and promotion and inside-out discovery of collaborators.

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