I have now had the opportunity to participate in many Open Innovation (OI) conferences, and I have heard a lot about (and from) the big players. You know the companies that I’m talking about: P&G, General Mills, Shell, etc.

After attending the Marcus Evans Group’s 7th Annual OI Summit held in Philadelphia, PA from April 15 to 17, 2013, I was delighted to see the evolution currently happening in the OI stratosphere. I was privy to a few surprises in the lineup from non-traditional players in the OI space, making this dynamic open innovations platform technologically enticing.

Warner Brothers

The first organization that caught me by surprise was Warner Brothers, and a presentation led by Ethan Appel, executive director of technology and business strategy. I know what you are thinking, “Warner Brothers is looking at crowdsourcing as a means to write content.” That is not exactly the case here — although wouldn’t it be fun to see a show that was written by the crowd?

Warner Brothers is a fully integrated company, and strives to provide customers with the highest quality entertainment experience. Not only do they produce content, but they also have the proper methodology to distribute it to the masses. With the rise of On-Demand entertainment, it is essential to reach a larger audience with more content options. This is where technology development and a need for external resources come into play. 

Warner Brothers understands that a lot of new technology is coming from small companies without a lot of backing — or worse, without a greater understanding of the business side. Striving to educate these smaller entities on how egregious spending leads to plummeting ROI figures is what Warner does with striking accuracy.

Big Opportunities for Small Businesses

In recognizing this trend among single inventors or micro businesses, Warner Brothers ascertained that without suitable support or backing, these truly creative ideas and potentially plausible technologies will never receive their “fair shake” at doing something great. Today’s small business owner realizes the dilemma that is associated with limited resources, no matter how impactful the technology.

The company decided to create a platform for small inventors to submit ideas called Media Camp. Once ideas or early stage technology is submitted and accepted, the innovators get to participate in a 12-week camp with a small angel fund to see where the technology could possibly end up.

The basic idea behind Media Camp is that it will be a comprehensive accelerator program that educates entrepreneurs, yet equivocally enables them to build innovative media businesses regardless of funding shortfalls. This allows Warner Brothers to help guide the technology, as well as the individual, thereby creating an exciting win-win atmosphere. This approach to OI is still in its early stages, but we may be able to see its successful launch soon.

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