As of late, It has been observed that global manufacturers are turning to complex and ‘closed’ supply chains to help set their products apart. Developing complex solutions related to the way a region can address the challenge of climate change is an example where such semi-open networks must be established. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the complexity related to the development work itself is of such a magnitude that only true experts in the field are able to establish the communication platform necessary to address the common issues. Secondly, the requested solution will require the providers of key technology to reveal their most valuable business secrets to enable the emergence of a joint innovation. This, of course, means that the dialogue within the network cannot be fully open to the public.

In the context of the Eco Urban Living initiative the development of the EVA concept car, with Valmet Automotive as the lead orchestrator, is a good example of applying such semi-open innovation practices. When the EVA car was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in spring 2010, it was presented jointly by Valmet Automotive (providing the automotive technology), Nokia (providing the control system and navigation technology), and Fortum (providing the charging technology). The development work relating to these specific technologies, and how to integrate them in common development projects, is what forms the closed part of the innovation network. In addition to the deep technology collaboration between Valmet Automotive, Nokia and Fortum the experiences from the open network built with Aalto University, the City of Espoo and others were also integrated into the development work.

All these experiences have been used by the respective companies in their own business activities. Valmet Automotive for example has further expanded its EV-competence through working with Fisker Automotive to produce the Fisker Karma sports hybrid car. Fortum in turn provides charging solutions for electric vehicle demonstration facilities not only in Finland but also in Sweden, Norway and other countries.

Sources referenced:

Marsh, Peter (2011, July 7). "Closed encounters with suppliers". Financial Times (Registration required).