The pandemic is making a profound impact on economic and social life throughout much of the world. How should innovators adapt to the so-called “new normal” and lead their organizations towards recovery? In this year´s edition of the World Open Innovation Conference, we will focus on the knowledge and tools from open innovation that help innovators overcome threats and identify new opportunities for growth and prosperity.

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WOIC 2021 – Closing statement

World Open Innovation Conference 2021 – Closing statement

The 8th annual World Open Innovation Conference (WOIC) was hosted from the High Tech Campus Eindhoven (The Netherlands), as a virtual experience that brought together international participants from science, government and industry on a global online platform. Participants from all continents found each other, presented and exchanged ideas on this year’s conference theme “Building Successful Ecosystems Through Open Innovation”.

“The COVID-situation certainly proved to be a major challenge, yet the conference still managed to create new connections and enable new insights in important domains connected to open innovation. Our organizing team, together with our partners and sponsors, and the wider community are focused on learning from each other and we know that we can achieve greater things when we work together.” (Professor Marcel Bogers – TU/e & Conference Chair of WOIC)


Today more than ever, the open innovation principle has an essential task due to new global realities. A reality in which geopolitical movements are putting pressure on the global innovation system and in which addressing our generation’s grand challenges will require an open and collaborative approach. Working together is essential to remain future proof because innovation has the potential to deliver real solutions. How? By building ecosystems through open innovation!

The location was therefore not chosen by coincidence, as John Jorritsma — mayor of Eindhoven — underlined: “We are proud to host this year’s World Open Innovation Conference in Eindhoven, in the heart of our ‘Brainport’ region which has lead European innovation rankings for years in a row. Brainport is a thriving innovation ecosystem in which 20 years ago high-tech industries, governments and knowledge institutes together embraced the ideas of Henry Chesbrough on open innovation.”

Open innovation ecosystems such as Brainport have the potential to be the drivers in addressing global challenges first and foremost on sustainability. How to make this work ran like a thread through the entire conference. It requires fostering open innovation within an ecosystem while ensuring open innovation across borders between national and international ecosystems.


“Not so long ago, the Philips lab located in Eindhoven was the world for much of the innovation output of this region. Today with Brainport, the world is now the lab for thousands of researchers and engineers working for hundreds of companies. It has become a global innovation hotspot.” (Professor Henry Chesbrough – University of California, Berkeley & Founding Chair of WOIC)

The 8th annual World Open Innovation Conference created a melting pot of academics and practitioners to bring together the recent scientific studies and ongoing practices on open innovation and ecosystems. Bringing together theory and practice, it became clear that open innovation plays a central role in developing ecosystems that both address current societal challenges and develop organizations’ strategies and business models that would make this work. This also trickles down to how companies organize themselves, and how they address the human side in open innovation. It’s about attitudes toward open innovation and about tapping into all available human capital in an open innovation ecosystem.


Open innovation in ecosystems doesn’t happen overnight. Setting the right conditions is something that requires attention of all stakeholders in the quadruple helix — academics, industry practitioners, policymakers and citizens. Both companies and governments will have to take their responsibility to jointly shape those conditions that will enable the development of ecosystems that deliver societally relevant solutions through open innovation. Robert-Jan Smits (President of TU/e): “Innovation ecosystems are powerful tools for boosting innovation and creativity in a setting of partnership and cooperation and as such are solution providers for some of the grand societal challenges our planet is facing, be it the energy transition or climate change. For this reason governments should put the development of new and the strengthening of existing innovation ecosystems at the core of their innovation policies”.

The conference concluded with a clear call to all open innovation’s actors, in government, industry and science, to join hands to ensure our world’s future sustainability and together develop the full potential of open innovation ecosystems toward this goal.


On behalf of the main organizing parties:

World Open Innovation Conference (WOIC) – Marcel Bogers & Henry Chesbrough

Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) – Robert-Jan Smits

Brainport Development – John Jorritsma 

Link to pdf

Industry: Why participate?

We invite you to participate in the World Open Innovation Conference to deep dive into how to manage open innovation in your organization. We will propose discussions on relevant open innovation issues that other organizations are likely to experience in a corporate, public agency, or non-profit setting. We aim to foster a collaborative environment between the academic and practitioner community. We offer conference participants the opportunity to tap into the collective mind of the conference participants and access knowledge on managing open innovation in different context through academic paper presentations session, best practice sessions, and challenge sessions. Click here for more information.

Virtual Track

In addition to the physical conference, we are also going to offer an online track. This online-only virtual track will consist of streaming of plenary sessions, participation in moderated online sessions, online networking, and virtual presentation and discussion of submitted papers. While we don’t think an online track can replace the experience of a physical conference, we do believe that offering an online track will make our conference and community more accessible, including to those who may otherwise not be able to travel for the conference.

Awards for Best Paper by a Student and Emerging Scholar

The conference will feature an award for the best paper by a student and the best paper by an emerging scholar. To be eligible for the award, the student or emerging scholar, respectively, must be the lead author or single author of the paper and he or she must be the presenting author at the conference. The finalists of the awards will be honored during the conference and on the WOIC website. The winner of each award will receive a plaque and a €500 cash reward and a free entry to next year’s WOIC.

Special Section in California Management Review

The journal California Management Review (CMR) will publish a special section on “Open Innovation” with selected papers from this conference. Submission of a full paper is required to be considered for the special section. The submitted full papers will be shortlisted based on quality and managerial implication. Authors will be notified in case their paper is shortlisted and will then receive further information about the process.

A note on COVID-19

We are closely monitoring the developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, both locally and internationally. Our assumption is that we will be able to host the physical conference without specific measures. However, people traveling to the conference will need to adhere to any travel-related measures, and we may also need to adjust to any local measure in case of any developments. We will keep registered participants informed about any such developments. You can also find more information about the coronavirus-related measures on the website of the Dutch government (, including information about traveling to the Netherlands and any local measures.

A warm welcome to the World Open Innovaton Conference to Eindhoven by Robert-Jan Smits

8th annual World Open Innovation Conference comes to Eindhoven

The 8th edition of the World Open Innovation Conference (WOIC 2021) will be held on December 9 and 10 at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven in the Netherlands. On December 8, interested participants have the opportunity to visit several parts of the flourishing ecosystem in what is called the Brainport Eindhoven region. Moreover, on December 11, there will be a dedicated workshop day, which will be held at the campus of the Eindhoven University of Technology.

The conference theme of WOIC is “Building Succesful Ecosystems Through Open Innovation”, which should be very fitting considering not only the global developments in research and practice but also the specific location of this year’s conference. In general, open innovation describes “a distributed innovation process based on purposively managed knowledge flows across organizational boundaries.” It provides insights into how firms can harness inflows and outflows of knowledge to improve their innovation success. During the last two decades, open innovation has had profound impact on both the practice and study of innovation. In parallel to open innovation becoming a central feature of innovation management, the concept of innovation ecosystems has also gained much attention from both research and practice. In the face of innovation, one organization’s success will depend on the efforts of other innovators in its environment. With this year’s conference theme we want to highlight the potential of applying what we know about open innovation in order to build successful ecosystems. And indeed, the High Tech Campus Eindhoven is an excellent location for doing this. In fact, a defining moment in the history of the High Tech Campus was when the Philips company, which used this campus as its research facility, decided to literally open its doors and make the campus accessible to external parties to enable interactions and knowledge flows in line with its emerging open innovation strategy. This has now resulted in a thriving ecosystem of more than 200 companies with more than 12,000 innovators, researchers and engineers, created what has been called the “smartest square km in the world”.

Robert-Jan Smits, President of the Executive Board of Eindhoven University of Technology, welcomes the World Open Innovation Conference to Eindhoven:

Welcome to the WOIC website

The World Open Innovation Conference (WOIC) was inaugurated in 2014 by “the father of open innovation” Henry Chesbrough who organized the conference from the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley. This year, the organization of WOIC moved to the Innovation, Technology Entrepreneurship & Marketing (ITEM) group at Eindhoven University of Technology, supported by a large group of volunteers who share a passion for open innovation and who are eager to create value for the wider community in this domain.

Ever since it was started in 2014, the WOIC grew into an established conference, which is known for focus on bringing theory and practice closer together. This is visible in the conference through the mix of keynote speakers and how we seek to combine the latest in academic research on open innovation with challenges faced by industry executives and policymakers who manage open innovation in their organizations. This will indeed be a defining feature of what we do while we are also expanding in other domains.

Given that the WOIC is more than a conference, we see ourselves more as a community, and we are therefore turning our new website into a platform for the World Open Innovation Community — not coincidentally also with WOIC as acronym. We want WOIC, both the community and the conference, the place for open innovation researchers and practitioners to meet and connect. Our website will therefore not only feature information about the upcoming conference but also about other new initiatives and activities. We are now also active at various social media channels where you are welcome to follow us and hopefully engage with us and the rest of the community:


Pre-conference visit to Brainport Eindhoven

WOIC 2021 will take place in the heart of the Brainport region, which is a regional innovation ecosystem in the Eindhoven area. It is a renowned hotspot for open innovation. The conference itself will take place at the High Tech Campus, which has been recognized as the smartest square kilometer in the world. The campus is built around an ecosystem of 235 companies with a range of application fields. It is home to over 12.000 innovators, researchers, and engineers that create the technologies and businesses of the future. Together with the High Tech Campus and Brainport Development — an organization that provides local support in the region to attract international high-tech and manufacturing companies —, we will be developing a pre-conference visit to expose interested attendees to the local ecosystem


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