An Open Innovation Platform for Crowdsourcing & Product Design

Harnessing freelance professionals to crowdsource product innovation for companies and entrepreneurs

A new innovation paradigm for improved product design 

Open innovation is an exciting new approach to research and development that is changing the way companies, entrepreneurs, and innovators think about design, collaboration, and intellectual property. While the basic ideas underlying the concept have been around for quite some time, in recent years the open innovation model has been gaining a lot of traction. Cad Crowd is just one of the many ways that forward-thinking innovators can take advantage of this exciting new design paradigm to improve their products and increase their revenue.

What is open innovation?

The simplest definition is that it is the philosophy that in order to maximize the potential for growth and truly innovative development, firms should be open to external ideas on the one hand, and on the other hand should themselves be open with their own ideas. In other words, companies should think about how they manage their inflows and outflows of knowledge, and should look for ways to improve those networks. 

The basic underlying idea is that, in our heavily specialized, industrialized, and digitized world, no single person or firm can have a meaningful monopoly of information or expertise, and that we can all do better when knowledge is allowed to flow rather than when we try to bottle it up. While in the past, large firms would rely primarily on their own internal R&D departments to direct innovation and would jealously guard the information they produced, the open innovation paradigm says that firms can produce better products and thereby drive better sales when they are open to ideas coming from outside their own internal networks. 

Open innovation is not open source, though. Intellectual property rights are still in play. But with companies more willing to look to external sources for innovation, product licensing and joint ventures are becoming more important. And this is great news for inventors! Many firms are more open now to licensing agreements than they have been in the past, and many new opportunities are arising for independent innovators. And Cad Crowd is here to help!

Product licensing and crowdsourcing

Licensing of intellectual property rights is a central aspect of the open innovation paradigm, and is the biggest difference between it and other innovation paradigms like the open source movement. Open innovation is very much still about making money as much as it is about generating useful new ideas. One of the most straightforward ways for firms to take advantage of outside innovators is to license ideas. This is an arrangement that can be of great benefit to both parties: the licensee gets access to a profitable new product without having to sink resources into developing it, and the innovator gets paid for their product idea without having to establish manufacturing and distribution and without entering into competition with the licensee. 

Licensing can be a lucrative strategy for inventors. Cad Crowd is ready to help you with everything from designing your product, to getting it patented, to creating a prototype. We can also help you to get your product licensed when it's ready. Contact us for a quote and let us know about your project to learn more about how we can help you get your idea licensed by major retailers.

Crowdsourcing is another great way to open up channels to outside innovation flows. Crowdsourcing is also a strategy that is imminently scalable: it can be employed by both the largest and most well-established corporations, as well as by budding independent entrepreneurs. 

While crowdsourcing takes many forms, the basic premise is to take a design challenge, and present it to "the crowd" — the online community of self-selected individuals who might have an interest in solving the problem. Crowdsourcing is sort of like outsourcing, in that the burden of producing a solution is shifted to an outside party, but it differs quite substantially from typical outsourcing (we should know — Cad Crowd specializes in both!).

While in outsourcing, the contracted party takes on the task for pay, under the crowdsourcing model, this isn't always the case. With the crowdsourced design challenge model, like what we do here on Cad Crowd, contributors can be financially renumerated for their work — but only if they win. With other crowdsourcing models, like in scientific and medical crowdsourcing, contributors participate without any expectation of personal reward. 

Crowdsourcing is open and collaborative, while outsourcing typically is usually less so. Being able to tap numerous participants for their design ideas and innovative potential makes crowdsourcing a unique, powerful, and accessible tool for harnessing open innovation for businesses of any scale. 

At the forefront of digital design services and online freelancing, Cad Crowd embraces the open innovation paradigm. Let us help you connect with talented innovators from around the world. Work with our industry-leading freelancers, or set up a crowdsourcing design contest of your own. Learn more about how Cad Crowd can help you open up new streams of innovation.

Brands we've worked with

Yale University School of Medicine
Tiffany & Co.
CNOOC Limited
The Boston Consulting Group

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