Why open innovation helps to scale up development impact – Great new article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review

September 6, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

Steel Wool Sparks on the Beach

Now that is sparkling (innovation?) – Picture by: Evan Photo Extremist, licenced under CC BY-ND 2.0, source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thevlue/5813641070/sizes/z/in/photostream/

The Stanford Social Innovation Review just published an article on “Open Innovation: A Muse for Scaling” – Good chances, that this paper will become my personal “favorite article of 2012”. Why?

Well, the paper manages to explain in just two pages and in plain words, why open innovation has the potential to drastically increase the impact of development interventions. It is very prone to scale. As they sum it up: “Open innovation enables community participation, distributed accountability, and knowledge creation—all behaviors that provide the groundwork for scale”.

So let us all work on getting the five tips right in our own work, which are:
Tip 1: Turn beneficiaries into co-creators
Tip 2: Move from enterprise to ecosystem
Tip 3: Master the art of gifting
Tip 4: Spark entrepreneurship inside and outside your organization
Tip 5: Allow for mutability

Very relevant stuff indeed for development cooperation and international cooperation. For more info (on two pages), check Open Innovation: A Muse for Scaling or here on the Alumniportal: APD-copy of Open Innovation: A Muse for Scaling [This is a link to content within the Alumniportal Germany (register or login first to access the link)]. Cheers, Balthas

P.S. Thanks and Kudos to Jeremy de Beer who pointed me to the article.

Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

Made in my backyard – by and for the world. third day of re:publica is starting

May 4, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Asia


Illustration of low cost prosthesis 1. Copyright, Author: Waag Society/Arne Kuilman 2012, licensed under a cc licence: Naamsvermelding 3.0 Nederland (CC BY 3.0 NL). Source: http://waag.org/en/project/low-cost-prosthesis

Illustration of low cost prosthesis 1. Copyright, Author: Waag Society/Arne Kuilman 2012, licensed under a cc licence: Naamsvermelding 3.0 Nederland (CC BY 3.0 NL). Source: http://waag.org/en/project/low-cost-prosthesis

Bas van Abel, head of the design lab at waag society, Netherlands had a great session where he spoke about empowering people and fixing our economy by moving to open peer-to-peer production communities. He gave examples of concrete work with miners in Congo, and prosthesis-makers in Indonesia.

Bas starts with a quote from Oscar Wild: “People know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” He then gets to the argument, that social values are interlinked with economical values: Baas asks us to look at building a relational system, with the core needs of openness and transparency. “We need transparent products, where we know how they were made, and if they were made under fair conditions.”

This may mean to roll back some economic beliefs like division of labour and ‘the invisible hand of a self-regulating markets’. Baas gives the example of mineral extraction in Eastern Congo for cell phone raw materials. See e.g. the documentary ‘blood in the mobile‘.

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The non-experts are the real experts – open innovation talk at re:publica

May 2, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

From DIY to 'Who hacks whom'? Author: Berishafjolla. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Virus.jpg

From DIY to ‘Who hacks whom’? Author: Berishafjolla. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Virus.jpg

So re:publica 2012 has started today. Not only with a call for freedom by Harvards Eben Moglen, but also with an interesting talk on ‘open innovation and the contribution of non-experts’ by Beth Kolko.

Here’s my summary of it: For Beth, non-experts have the skills to innovate, but lack the recognition and credentials by institutions. They are outsiders, but that also makes them great rule-breakers: think of them as both innovators and challengers of institutional experts: They form communities of disruptive technology, as they think outside the box. Plus, they are willing to embrace a re-mix approach, that is truely ‘open innovation’. Examples include hackers, builders, DIY-activists, functional engineers

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Homegrown advancements drive Africa’s tech revolution: TV show on Africa’s (open) innovation drive

March 23, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa

Just found an interesting TV show on “African Innovation” aired by Al Jazeera three days ago.  They make several points e.g: ” Across Africa, developers and programmers are coming up with new technologies from mobile banking to mapping software and medical tablets to cloud storage. Now the continent is increasingly relying on its own homegrown innovations.”

In the show, Eric Osiakwan, director of the African Internet Service Providers Association, and Juliana Rotich (@afromusing), co-founder and executive director of Ushahidi provide their insights on many issues around African innovation. Check e.g. Minute 34:10 for good points on “informal open innovation”, “Open Spaces as second university”, Open Source as a driving force for Africa and more.

Heres the show: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/african-innovations-0022111

Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.

African fellows wanted on the “role of intellectual property in open development” in Africa …

January 31, 2012 in Freedom to innovate

This is an interesting call by the “Open African Innovation Research and Training” inititative, which is part of the GIZ commons@ip programme, which I run:

“The Open A.I.R. initiative on the role of intellectual property (IP) in open development invites applications for a three- or six-month Research Fellowship to work in Cape Town, South Africa, on the project’s research, outreach and training activities. Primary responsibilities will include conducting research on a case study within one or more of the project’s thematic areas, contributing to the development of outreach strategies and training initiatives, and helping to solidify and grow Open A.I.R.’s pan-African network.

Link: http://www.openair.org.za/content/2012-fellowship-opportunity

IT Sector Promotion in developing and emerging countries – Manual & Toolbox released

November 22, 2011 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

Titel_IT_sectorpromotioinJust released: an IT sector promotion manual and toolbox with many examples and tools pertaining to OpenIT@giz – Open Innovation for Development such as capacity building, open innovation methods, training-of-trainer networks in IT, Open Source etc. Check it out! BTW: It is drawing on the ict@innovation programme and other programmes described here). And for archival reasons, please find below the reprint of the news item published on the German ICT4D Blog.

The Sector Project ICT4D on behalf of BMZ and with the support of GIZ’s ict@innovation team has just released it’s IT Sector Promotion Toolbox. The Toolbox, together with its explanatory Manual, introduces a methodology and a set of practical tools to promote the IT industry in developing and emerging countries. Relying on German Development Cooperation’s instruments and project experience, the Manual and the Toolbox provide a strategic “roadmap” for IT sector promotion which can be flexibly adapted to accommodate future changes in resources, global markets and technologies. They have primarily been designed for the staff of ministries and agencies involved in economic development, for managers and staff members of IT clusters, associations, networks, communities of practice and chambers of commerce. They should serve as orientation for staff of donor organisations involved in private sector development, economic development, and employment promotion as well as in information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D)/development informatics.

The Manual and the Toolbox could be found on this blog as topic 7 of the course section. They were also available at the “IT Sector Promotion Tools” page of the German ICT4D Blog..

Just published: “Unleashing Open Innovation Systems”

September 9, 2010 in Freedom to innovate, News on publications, Open Source IT business

copyright of cover: GIZ

copyright of cover: GIZ

The working group on ‘Promoting Innovation Systems’ of Germany’s development cooperation just published a documentation on “Strengthening Innovation Systems in the Context of Development Cooperation”. An article by Balthas Seibold gives an overview of the potential of open innovation for developing countries. Taking the capacity building programme commons@ip as an example, the paper enumerates important impact indicators, which demonstrate, how a move towards open innovation in developing countries might positively influence innovation systems. Read the article “Unleashing Open Innovation Systems” in the documentation (page 87 to 92) available as a pdf-download at the publications section of this website. For more information on the InWEnt programme commons@ip, please check the InWEnt Train for Trade Portal.

Talk on open innovation & book launch of “Free your IT-business in Africa” at Africa’s FOSS gathering “Idlelo 4”

May 21, 2010 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source & Africa, Open Source IT business

idlelo4This biennium’s Idlelo (four) conference on Open Source and the Digital Commons in Africa organized by FOSSFA had the theme of “Development with ownership” and took place in Accra, Ghana from 17.04-21.04. Balthas Seibold was there to launch with FOSSFA a training book resulting of the joint regional capacity building programme “ict@innovation – creating business and learning opportunities in Free and Open Source Software”. The guide with the title “ict@innovation: Free your IT-Business in Africa!” compiles advanced training materials on African FOSS business models for small and medium enterprises in the IT-industry and brings together a wealth of examples and case studies of FOSS entrepreneurs from all across the African continent plus model presentations, assessment tests, exercises and assignments. Free download is available on the ict@innovation site. Balthas was also speaking on Idlelo’s panel on “Standards, Patents and Copyrights”, where he presented thoughts on the knowledge commons and copyleft licensing for open innovation (see agenda and news below). More information on ict@innovation is available at the the Africa and Open Source section of this website.

Freedom to innovate ! Article in D+C Journal

April 15, 2010 in Freedom to innovate, News on publications, Open Source IT business

Germany’s international Development + Cooperation Journal just published an article by Balthas Seibold, which looks at open innovation and the knowledge commons in the framework of business development in developing countries. The piece argues, that innovation is key to private sector development, so stringent protection of intellectual property rights can hamper businesses in poor countries. To close the innovation divide, it makes sense to bank on open innovation and digital knowledge commons. Read the full article online at D+C or find more information and a pdf of the print edition within the publication section of this website.

Silang – the Philippines: Asia Source 3 Meeting Reinforces Asian Free and Open Source Software Movement

November 13, 2009 in Open Source & Asia, Open Source IT business

Copyright of logo: with Asia Source 3 Organizers (IOSN Asean+3)

While most technology conferences happen as swanky, slick, and well-rehearsed events, the recently concluded Asia Source 3 took the opposite track and ran a camp that was spartan yet spontaneous. From November 7 to 12, 2009, Asia Source 3 gathered 150 representatives from Southeast Asia to discuss developments in open source. For those six days, the campers lived in a communal environment that married fun and relaxation with exchange of ideas. “We are honored to be part of this movement through our training and network program it@foss” said Balthas Seibold, Senior Project Manager of InWEnt. Asia Source 3 marked the official highlight of five years of regional FOSS support by InWEnt in Southeast Asia. InWEnt has trained and connected more than 1000 experts from Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines in more than 30 training courses under its it@foss program.

Check more about Asia Source III at http://www.asiasource3.net, meet Balthas at the online community of AS3, check the programme at the Camp Wiki, including an afternoon track session of Balthas Seibold on “From Open Source to Open Innovation / a brainstorming on open-everything”. Or learn more about InWEnt’s work in Asia.

Dortmund: Balthas Seibold speaks at seminar on “Strengthening Innovation Systems in the Context of Development Cooperation”

October 8, 2009 in Freedom to innovate, Open Source IT business

Innovation: What role for ICTs and for Open approaches? This has been a guiding question for a joint talk by gtz’s Thorsten Scherf and InWEnt’s Balthas Seibold at a symposium and seminar organized in Dortmund for gtz staff and other experts on innovation systems promotion. Balthas Seibold pointed out, how we might be moving from the Digital Divide to an Innovation Divide, how ICTs and „Open Innovation“ is linked to the example of Free and Open Source Software and what role the knowledge commons may play for innovation. For an overview of the seminar’s programm, see the Agenda, for details on the input, see the presentation slides.

Free digital knowledge!

June 15, 2006 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn

logo-goettingererklaerungFree digital knowledge! claims the German Coalition for Action “Copyright for Education and Research”. These days, Germany is debating new legislation for copyright in the digital era – a proposed text passed the executive branch of government in March of this year. A nationwide coalition of research and educational organizations and personalities fights the proposal, which “would severely” harm education and science in Germany according to the coalition. In particular, access to scientific information could be more restricted and more expensive. Key criticism and proposals are online in the “Göttingen Declaration on Copyright for Education and Research” , which was signed in 2004 – also by the author of this website. The declaration can be signed here.