An Interview with Carlos Almasque

We hear from Carlos Almasque, Senior Manager, Open Innovation at Firmenich


How has the perception of open innovation changed in the last 5 years?

I don’t think the perception has fundamentally changed, but the hip is gone and now we have a longer-term view on what the initiatives can deliver. Also the way in which Open Innovation is being implemented has evolved.

Many people are still worried about the risks of open innovation programmes, how do you negate these?

Those risks are very real and people should not act blindly. Having said that, operating in a trust environment is key. It is always about hedging the risk of sharing, with commercial interests against breaking the trust.

How should you measure the success of an open innovation programme?

Same as any business initiative: sales growth and profitability. In case of NGOs and other non-profit organisations, the same metrics as for other projects should apply. Innovation should always be an engine for growth, never some abstract idea-generation activity.

Which organisations do you think have been key to pushing open innovation and why?

Technology conglomerates and large FMCG companies have played a big role, but the roots of open innovation will always be in academia and the scientific community.

Do you think it is better to allow open innovation to take place within an entire company or silo’d to particular departments or projects?

I think open innovation should happen at all levels and for multiple different projects. It should be a way to bring part of the solution that cannot be found in-house, and this can be applied at all levels. One thing is a fact: the narrower the scope is, the more in-depth the knowledge can be shared.


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