The innovation ecosystem is the large and diverse range of resources and participants that are necessary and contribute to continuous innovation in an economy. These include investors, entrepreneurs, technical and business development service providers, and researchers amongst others.

To sustain an innovation ecosystem, there must be re-imagining, evolving, re-inventing and adapting to create and utilize new information and ideas in new and existing products and services. Demands from customers, superior performance, and adaptation to competition lead to an innovation economy.

Companies need to explore one or a combination of the five innovation models as a way of creating an innovation ecosystem in an open innovation ecosystem.

Employee innovation

Innovation in a company has to start from inside the company. The employees are the best cluster of people to spearhead the innovations. To start with, they serve the customers, build products, and ensure a smooth running of the company. Therefore, they understand the processes within the organization well.

Employees are in the best place to identify new opportunities and to come up with life changing ideas. Their ideas are one-sided, and so organizations that rely on employee innovation alone do not attain a high level of competency. Before a business embraces other modes of innovation, it has to start with the employee innovation. It helps a company prepare for other types of innovations

Customer Innovation

Customer innovation relies on feedback from customers. The innovation goes beyond the company to hear from the people the company serves with its products or services.

Since the customer base of every company is larger than its employee base, the company receives more comments, ideas, and feedback as compared to employee innovation. For that reason, the company needs to be ready for the huge feedback.

Partner/Supplier Innovation

Many organizations work with partners and suppliers who they trust. A company benefits when it innovates and opens up information with partners and suppliers. The information helps the partners and suppliers to produce products and services that customer want.

On the other hand, the company benefits by being able to forecast better and by reducing wastages in time and resources. The benefits are better when the company involves the partners and suppliers early in their innovation process.

Competitor Innovation

It is not easy or common for competitors to collaborate on any innovation project. Any collaboration involves trust, a change in mindset, and legal requirements. Teaming up benefits the competitors to unlock new business opportunities and it is useful for the sake of survival. Normally, innovating with competitors starts with a conversation.

The outcome of the conversation cannot be predicted. Companies who realize that there are smart people outside their organization do not shy away from such initiatives. However, innovating with competitors can be the most difficult innovation model but perhaps the most successful.

Public Innovation

As the name suggests, public innovation involves inviting the public to give their ideas and opinions. That said, companies who use this mode of innovation should be aware that there will be thousands of ideas sent their way. So, they should have proper technology and processes to receive and actualize the ideas.

To fully tap into the power of this mode of innovation, organizations should be able to transform the ideas provided into services and products. Public innovation should be among the last kind of innovation that companies implement. This is because it is complex to implement and manage.