Problemsourcing: Local Open Innovation for R&D Organizations

  • Davenport S
  • Cummings S
  • Daellenbach U
  • et al.
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Open innovation and crowdsourcing are usually focused on using others external to the or- ganization to solve your problems. How then do R&D organizations, who traditionally solve the problems of others, harness the benefits of open innovation and crowdsourcing yet maintain their mission and capabilities? "Problemsourcing" may provide the answer. In this mode of open innovation, the open call to the "crowd" of businesses is for them to suggest problems that, if solved by the R&D organization, could greatly enhance the business’ com- petitive advantage and therefore the nation’s economy. In this article, we describe a problemsourcing initiative developed by Industrial Research Ltd (IRL), a government-owned R&D organization in New Zealand. The "What’s Your Prob- lem New Zealand?" competition promised NZ$1m worth of R&D services to the winning business. Using this case study, we map a range of benefits of crowdsourcing for R&D prob- lems, including generating a potential pipeline of projects and clients as well as avoiding the challenge to the professional status of the organization’s research capability. A side-ef- fect not initially taken account of was that, by demonstrating openness, accessibility, and helpfulness, the reputation of the research organization was greatly enhanced. The problemsourcing model provided by the "What’s Your Problem New Zealand?" compet- ition represents a new strategic possibility for R&D organizations that complements their traditional business model by drawing on the openness that open innovation and crowd- sourcing seek to leverage. As such, it can provide insights for other research organizations wishing to make use of the connectivity afforded by open innovation and crowdsourcing.




Davenport, S., Cummings, S., Daellenbach, U., & Campbell, C. (2018). Problemsourcing: Local Open Innovation for R&D Organizations. Technology Innovation Management Review, 3(3), 14–20.

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