Open Innovation: Turning business opportunities into profitable businesses

‘Innovation knows no barriers’, says Lene Hartmeyer of the Danish Lighting Innovation Network. That is why they participate—as one of a total of five so-called Lighting Clusters—in the Lighting For People project, a European Coordination and Support Action. The Danish Lighting Innovation Network and the Lighting For People project jointly organized several events on the 26th and 27th of March in Copenhagen. 

On the 26th of March, Nils Erkamp (TNO, The Netherlands) presented highlights from the Lighting For People project’s report on the non-visual effects of Solid State Lighting (SSL) on people’s health and wellbeing. He discussed, e.g., the effects of SSL on people’s alertness (in the morning, during work) or their relaxation (in the evening, at home), and how this knowledge can be applied in office, education, healthcare, domestic or outdoor contexts. He gave examples of improving the wellbeing of patients, enabling them to leave the hospital healthier and sooner, and of office workers, raising productivity and reducing sick-leave. ‘The real value of SSL is in creating smart, human-centric lighting’, argues Nils, ‘and this requires the integration of knowledge about health and sustainability, systems engineering and lighting design, to create specific solutions for specific contexts’.

Next, Marc Fontoynont (Cluster Lumière, France) addressed various business opportunities, based on these findings, and facilitated a discussion with the participants on how to use these findings in future applications. The meeting closed with informal matchmaking between the participating Danish companies, representatives of Lighting Clusters, Luce in Veneto (Italy), CICAT (Spain), Cluster Lumière (France) and Danish Lighting Innovation Network (Denmark), and of LU Open (Sweden) and TNO (Netherland).

The next day, on the 27th of March, there were by-invitation-only workshops. Nils Erkamp (TNO) facilitated two workshops with participants in the two Business Development Experiments that the Danish Lighting Innovation Network is involved in. The Lighting For People Open Innovation Toolkit and associated templates were used. This approach first focuses on potential customers and their needs, then on designing a value proposition to meet these needs, and then on creating a shared vision goals, and on facilitating collaboration to develop value propositions that will meet these needs.

One of the Business Development Experiments aims to develop an easy-to-use SSL lighting system for older people, that supports their biological circadian rhythms. This is an interesting target group, and one with specific needs and abilities regarding the user interface. In this workshop, Nils asked questions like: ‘When will you and your organization be happy with the results?’ Discussing their individual goals will help the people involved to articulate also shared goals, and to collaborate in realizing these shared goals. The other Business Development Experiment aims to develop a window that combines daylight and artificial light. In this workshop, Nils asked questions like: ‘How to bring such a product to market?’ One could, e.g., target domestic customers, or target organizations, like hospitals or schools—with different implications for marketing and distribution, and for the type of solution that needs to be developed. By the end of the workshops, the people involved in the Business Development Experiments expressed their sincere appreciation of the workshops’ process and outcomes.

In sum, the Lighting For People project is helping companies to turn business opportunities into profitable businesses. The project is about creating innovations that benefit people and planet and profit. The Lighting For People project team members are looking forward to the next event, organized by another of the five lighting clusters in Lighting For People: Luce in Veneto (Italy) taking place on the 18th and the 19th of June.