4 Ways to Find your Innovators with Open Innovation

how to find innovators

Table of Contents

In our previous blogs, we discussed the importance of opening up your organization and embracing new ideas. In order to gather these new ideas, you need to know who has them, and where to find them. Many organizations use open innovation to target everyone they can, but as we saw in our ‘Challenges in Open Innovation & How to Solve them’ blog, this can often cause an overwhelming number of ideas to be out of scope and cause the initiative to appear unsuccessful. Understanding how to find innovators who have the right solution for your organization is key to the success of your open innovation project.

How to Find Innovators with Internal Team Discussion

One way to successfully find innovators outside of your organization is to ask your internal teams and start the discussion with them. Understanding who your employees regularly speak to externally – be that suppliers, customers, partners, or even citizens and students – helps identify levels of engagement across these groups and discover who might be best to approach about improvements regarding current pain points.

how to find innovators

Social Media

When addressing new product developments or improvements, speaking to those that are directly impacted seems like an obvious step to take. Who better understands the pain points that customers face than the customers themselves? Leveraging insight from your customers, and ex-customers to understand why they stopped using your services or products will ultimately create a better experience for them. To ensure you’re reaching the right people to answer your challenges, you need to ensure that the platform you’re using to gather their responses is as accessible as possible. With over 4.48 billion people using social media across the globe, it is undeniable that an innovator with the perfect idea is waiting in that fray. Offering them a space that can be accessed using these very same social media accounts enables you to uncover new ideas from people who had previously never been able to engage with your organization directly.


Many sectors and industries are currently being challenged to be more sustainable, and often the best people to speak to about this are suppliers and partners. Many of these people will not have direct access to internal email accounts so cannot engage with threads of internal emails or memos, but they have a solid understanding of the supply and distribution chain and product life cycle. Therefore, ensuring you have an innovation process that enables you to specifically target and capture their voices ultimately means you will be able to gather ideas and gain a holistic view of improvements that can be made across the entire organization.

Marketing and Positioning Your Challenges

A step that is often ignored by many organizations when attempting to find innovators is the announcement of the challenge. Using the correct platforms to engage with your potential innovators such as targeted emails or social media outreach is a necessary step but ensuring that both your internal and external marketing campaigns drive attention to these efforts will drive engagement even further, and tap into contributors who had not previously supported your challenges.

Once you have begun exposing your challenges to your potential innovators, you need to ensure that there is enough detail within the challenges for them to respond. Moreover, the positioning of these challenges needs to align with the interests of the audience and be explained in a way that they will understand. Investing in a tool that enables configurable challenge forms will support your organization to adapt your challenges to specific audiences and ensure that they are getting the information they need to become your next great innovator. Removing the initial barrier of a difficult UI on your forms will create greater accessibility and drive more people to engage with your issues, uncovering a huge number of innovators from your customer, citizen, or student base.

how to find innovators

How to Find Innovators for Open Innovation

Finding the innovators within your external ecosystem is all about accessibility and transparency. Offering your entire ecosystem information as to what these challenges are, and why you’re doing them over a set period will enable people to find your challenges past a single point in time, creating greater opportunities for them to turn from customers to innovators. Utilizing the knowledge of your employees to find out where your best ideas might come from will also make this process easier.

With edison365’s latest Open Innovation tool you can choose how you want your innovators to engage; whether it’s open to everyone (perfect for distribution across social channels) or if you’d rather the challenges only be accessed by those who have the link (a great way to target suppliers and partners).

To find out more about edison365 Open Innovation visit

FAQ: How to Find Innovators

Who are Innovators?

An innovator is someone who comes up with an idea for a new product or service, a way to improve existing offerings, or a suggestion to amend the way the organization is run – such as introducing a new recycling initiative or business process.

How to Recognize an Innovator

Anyone can be an innovator, given the opportunity! But some people go out of their way to put forward new ideas and change their organization. They are known as intrapreneurs, and their many benefits of intrapreneurship!

What Are The Four Types of Innovation?

The four types of innovation, as identified by Greg Satell in Harvard Business Review, are:

  • Sustaining innovation (well-defined problem and skill domain)
  • Breakthrough innovation (well-defined problem, undefined skill domain)
  • Disruptive innovation (undefined problem, well-defined skill domain)
  • Basic research (both problem and skill domain undefined).

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