What is Open Innovation?

Open Innovation is a cutting edge business practice whereby firms, companies and organisations acknowledge that they cannot employ all the smart people and experts to solve all their challenges or needs in-house. Organisations need to engage a larger network of these smart people and experts from outside to help solve their business challenges or needs through a structured, formal and safe process. At the same time organisations can use external paths to spin out technologies or find new markets.

What is OpenIX?

The Innovation Hub’s OpenIX platform is an evolution of the Open Innovation Solution Exchange pilot project which concluded in October 2013. It is a web-based portal that connects innovators, inventors and solution providers with solution seekers in government and the private sector, whilst ensuring the protection of intellectual property on both sides. The platform builds on the expertise and experience of a proven open innovation mediation model to deliver value to innovators and customers.

The Innovation Hub is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development. Our aim is to be a catalyst for innovation in Gauteng and on the African continent.

Who can use OpenIX?

I would like to respond to a Challenge or Technology Offer: anyone, from any province, country or continent can register as a user of OpenIX and respond to Challenges or Technology Offers.

I would like to post a Challenge: any Africa-based organisation can post a Challenge. Please contact the OpenIX team for more information on the Challenge process and costs involved.

I would like to post a Technology Offer: any Africa-based researcher, entrepreneur or inventor can submit an application to post their offer. At this stage, there is no cost for Gauteng-based innovators but it is a competitive process and only some offers are published. Please contact the OpenIX team if you are from another province or country and have a Technology Offer you would like to publish.

What is a Challenge?

Challenge is a specific business problem defined by a solution seeker that articulates the problem, key specifications and the desired results of a potential solution. It is written into a concise and compelling 2-3 page document inviting potential solvers to respond with a proposal of their solution to the Challenge.

How do I submit a solution to a Challenge?

First, you need to click the Register link in the top right corner of the site and complete your details to create a user account. Then, to respond to a Challenge, click on the Submit a Response button to open the Challenge Response form.

Responding to a Challenge involves two main steps:

1. A summary of your proposal has to be completed online by completing the information on the various tabs.

2. The Documents tab has a link to a Challenge Response form (MS Word document) which you must download, complete details and upload. The online submission process will only be successful once the completed Challenge Response form has been uploaded.

You can save a draft of your online response and visit your Activity Dashboard to view draft documents not submitted yet.

What happens to my Challenge response submission?

After submitting your documentation, you will get an email reply as acknowledgement of receipt. All submissions will be evaluated and feedback will be given in due course, after the deadline.

What is in it for me/my organisation when responding to a Challenge? 

The ‘opportunity’ or reward for a successful submission is indicated on each respective Challenge. You/your organisation stand to benefit if your submission is selected as a possible solution by the Challenge sponsor. The Challenge sponsor will initiate negotiations with the successful solution providers, and a non-disclosure agreement will be signed in order for the parties involved to start sharing confidential information where necessary.

What is a Technology Offer?

While a Challenge is a specific business problem defined by a solution seeker, a Technology Offer operates in reverse. Innovators, who have a technology that could be of interest to the broader market, can submit a Technology Offer using our preformatted template. Registered members of OpenIX are able to respond directly to any Technology Offer.

How is my submission/information protected when responding to a Challenge?

The information contained in your first submission is not confidential and not protected. You are therefore advised not to submit any information deemed to be confidential. For example, when submitting a response you might explain what your solution does and not how it does it. Simply put, you need to give enough details in your first submission for the Challenge sponsor to approach you for more details. Before releasing any confidential information, both parties will need to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in order to protect your intellectual property and going forward, all negotiations will be legally controlled and protected.

What information is visible to other users?

Users can view Challenges and Technology Offers but CAN NOT see responses to Challenges or Technology Offers. Depending on how you setup your Account Profile certain contact information may be visible to other registered users of the platform, but not to the general public.

Who can see my responses to Challenges and Technology Offers?

Other users cannot see your response to a Challenge or Technology Offer. Only members of the evaluation team for a particular Challenge or owner of the Technology Offer can see your response.

How do I respond to a Technology Offer?

When you view a specific innovation of interest on the Technology Offers page, first make sure you are registered as a user then click on the Submit Response button. This will open the response page which will guide you through the information required. This includes your contact details and a free text area where you can express your specific interest. An email will be sent immediately to the Technology Offer owner who will respond to you directly.

How do I submit a Technology Offer?

A Technology Offer is a brief document communicating a technology or business idea to interested parties by pushing the technology into the market. Apply to publish your Technology Offers on OpenIX by registering as a user, going to the Technology Offers page then clicking on Submit a Technology Offer. If published, interested parties will be able to respond to you directly, potentially leading to deal making.

It is strongly recommended that technologies have intellectual property protection in the form of patents, design registration or copyright before looking to post as a Technology Offer. This is to safeguard your intellectual property since Technology Offers are visible to the general public.

Applications to post Technology Offers are evaluated by the OpenIX team on a regular basis using the following main criteria:

  • Location: Technology Offers for Gauteng-based organisations are free. Please contact the OpenIX team if you would like to post a Technology Offer from another province or country.
  • Technology Maturity: Preference is given to applications that have a proven concept or prototype or are ready to commercialise.
  • Type of Intellectual Property: Preference is given to ‘complete’ or ‘granted’ patents and design registrations, however all forms of protection are accepted.
  • Type of Company: Preference is given to researchers working on late stage R&D, new spinoffs and SMMEs.
  • Sector: The Innovation Hub’s main interest is in Biosciences, Green and Smart Industries including ICT; but all applications will be considered.
  • Market Need: Likely customer demand or social impact from the offer.

What do I do if I have further questions?

If you have any questions related to the website, Challenges, Technology Offers, Community pages or your Profile please contact the OpenIX team.


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