Expert View: Why Is Collaboration Important For Innovation Today?

We ask three innovation experts about the importance of collaboration


Innovation is essential to companies today. It is not enough to simply operate at the same levels they were before, instead it is now essential to make sure you are going above and beyond anything that has been achieved previously. This is reflected in the PWC innovation survey, which found that 43% of all companies asked rated innovation as ‘very important’.

An impetus for companies to put innovation first in business has coincided with, or been due to, the easy spread of ideas thanks to the improved communications that came with connections made through the internet. Where innovation previously came from one brilliant mind, like a Henry Ford for example, today its source can be a collaboration of hundreds of minds, or an idea that originated on the other side of the world acting as a catalyst for somebody else.

It has also allowed for companies to adopt more open approaches to their own innovation processes, opening up their business problems to multiple partners in order to create a consensus solution. We wanted to see what it was about open innovation and partnerships that made it so popular amongst companies today and why certain companies had adopted it so readily.

So we asked three of the leading minds in innovation the same question: ‘Do labs and partnerships offer businesses opportunities that in-house innovation doesn’t?’

Below we detail their responses:

Steve Bradbury, Deputy Director of Improvement & Innovation, Mersey Care, NHS

I think partnerships will always offer, in my sector anyway, access to opportunities that you would never find in-house. Whether this be in the private sector, academia or science we need to find ways of maximising the opportunities that exist and organisations like the Academic Health Science Networks (in the NHS) could prove valuable in making these connections.

Rebecca Evans, Head of Innovation, Emerald Group Publishing

Absolutely! I see labs and partnerships as a brilliant way to scale up and accelerate innovation. I have written about this for Publishing trade magazine The Bookseller. Have a read of this article on partnerships: and this one on labs – our version of Google Ventures Design Sprints:

Claire Gavin, Head of Private Brands & Innovation, Pets At Home

Whilst there is much innovation that we can create in house by working as cross-functional experts across the breadth of our business, we would be foolish to think that we cannot learn and appreciate the expertise and contributions of numerous players in the wider industry. But it isn’t all about looking within the Pet industry either – we continue to keep open dialogue with many vendors and retailers in other markets, and of course work with labs and partners across every aspect of our business to enable us to deliver the best we can to our customers.


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