Network Builder

“Innovation is a by-product of engaged networks.”
Verna Allee
Tool Step

Role of this tool

To build relevant and bespoke networks that support successful open innovation, mobilising the outside world to help us.

100% Open ToolKit

How do we use it?

This tool is designed to help us create, recruit and maintain our open innovation network. We use the tool as a central process and document for use by members of the whole team that will run the challenge and commercialise its outcome. Establishing and galvanising a good network could take up to a year so we need to allow time for this. Designing our network can be efficiently accomplished using two workshops – the first to agree targets and the second to finalise, with some time in between for research.

1. Give our network a name relevant to your need.

Give the network a name based on the problem or opportunity that we are trying to address. This is to differentiate it from other networks we have or will develop in the future.

2. Visualise our current network. Write the names in the inner circles on the Network Builder map.

Map out the most interesting or influential people, suppliers or networks that we know of and write their names in the core innovation network circles together with an adjective that describes them or their expertise. We are aiming for diverse backgrounds and a mixture of close and distant contacts, creating separate maps for each network we need (e.g. one for packaging, one for product ingredients).

3. Add a new network. Write new names in the outer circles on the Network Builder map.

We find new potential partners by using search engines or advanced search features on social media like LinkedIn. We can also use commercial services and existing databases to help find experts, innovators or new potential partners (e.g. 100%Open Venture Radar, inno360, ninesigma, Yet2, Innocentive).

4. What sectors/industries/geographies are relevant to our need?

We cast the net wide at this stage and record those sectors that are directly or indirectly relevant. We include SMEs, academics, our existing supply chain and industry bodies or associations.

5. What sectors/industries/geographies are not relevant to our need?

Are there any sectors or organisations that are dead ends from the point of view of technology, legal restrictions or other issues?

6. Write any keywords that are relevant to your search.

Keywords will often form the basis for a company search so we write them on the form. We are aiming for a list that is not too wide or we get too many irrelevant results. A list that is too narrow will fail to find tangential or radical solution providers. Include keywords in the appropriate languages of your target geographies.

Source 100%Open


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Worked Example

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