Nobody owns ideas: 3 reasons why open innovation and co-creation can accelerate your business

3D printing pioneer Janne Kyttanen lays out the benefits of sharing ideas in the additive manufacturing industry

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Nobody owns ideas! I mean think about it—isn’t it a bit naive to think that out of 7 billion people on the planet, you were the only person at a specific time to come up with your marvellous idea?

Instead, I believe that you tap into the communal human psyche during your “Eureka” moment and that an idea is really just a network of neurons connecting. Furthermore, I truly believe that it is not the idea alone that triggers innovation, but rather finding the right team of people who believe enough in the idea, make it better and help see it come to life!

This is why I am more interested in creating 3D industries than 3D products. Creating a new industry is a huge task and is not something you can do on your own. Sharing your ideas as early as possible can only help you propel the idea further and perhaps help find some interesting collisions with others. This gives the idea wings and makes the likelihood of success much stronger.

If you are afraid of people stealing your idea, you should probably leave the idea generation business and do something else. That was most likely the only idea you had and the truth is you will need perhaps 100,000 more before one actually turns into something.

Most organizations are still afraid of this type of mindset. Instead they are rooted into filing patents or closing their doors to outsiders. At the end of the day, they will end up losing to those who have open sharing and collaboration.


Why? For one, doing your own research is expensive, time consuming and hard to maneuver. Why would you want to set off to discover a new country on a ship without an experienced crew to help you navigate the rough waters?

Another reason is that by closing your doors, you never run into accidental discoveries or unpredictable collisions of creativity. The faster you share your ideas, the quicker the response and chance for commercialization.

Finally, I truly believe that everything is, in some way or another, built upon knowledge that already exists. It is by gathering talented people to connect these dots in a unique way that new revenue streams can be created for your organization.

I am very happy to find big companies in the 3D printing world shifting their mindset to open innovation. Here are a few examples: HP has an open materials innovation platform; Stanley Black & Decker is collaborating with Techstart on a 3D printing specific accelerator (in which I am proud to be a mentor for); Siemens launched its Additive Manufacturing Network to transform global manufacturing; and Autodesk Pier 9 in San Francisco, which has been around for awhile, has always been inspiring to me. (I have always found Autodesk’s Pier 9 to be cutting edge in how they let people freely play with their tools and thus create positive energy towards the company.)

If your organization is aspiring to be part of 3D printing innovation but isn’t quite sure how, let’s run a workshop together and find ways to freshen things up and drive revenue in your organization through open innovation and creativity. Contact me about collaborations.

Composites AM 2024

746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

Janne Kyttanen

Janne Kyttanen is a visionary and pioneer in the 3D printing industry. As founder of Freedom of Creation, he became one of the first designers to commercialize 3D printed products, including light fixtures, footwear, furniture, and much more. When Freedom of Creation was acquired by 3D Systems in 2011, Kyttanen took up the mantle as the company’s Creative Director, an influential position which he thrived in for 4 years. Now, Kyttanen puts his 3D expertise to another use, as co-founder and CEO of What the Future Venture Capital, a VC firm dedicated to designing tech startups specializing in cutting-edge technologies.

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