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How to Choose a Space for Open Innovation

11.03.2014
thehub http://www.flickr.com/photos/7226683@N03/413006382 (CC)

So, you are ready to innovate. You have an open idea contest planned and are ready to measure the positive effects of your campaign to your organisation. It is a couple months before the contest date and you get a short email from one of your participants asking where to show up on the day of. You realise you have not yet thought about where you will be hosting your challenge. You do not want to host it in any old school gym or church basement, you want a space that is going to encourage creative thinking and debate. But what are the sort of things you should look for in choosing an innovation hub? Design? Utility? Size?

We have watched many idea contests succeed and fail - some of our observations can be seen here. But today we want to focus on the role of space in innovation.

Part 1: Everyday Innovation

Innovation labs and hubs are popping up in Europe and around the globe. But what are innovation hubs and how can they improve your workflow? Innovation hubs are communal office spaces for entrepreneurs, start-ups and freelancers. They provide work spaces, meeting spaces, mentorship, and other resources. By interacting with people outside of your organisation, you can gain new insights for projects you are working on. Further, being in a space with other people who share your values to innovate and create better services, you can find your tribe. By encouraging a collaborative physical environment, you create a culture of innovation.

Part 2: Open Idea Contests

There are practical things to be considered when choosing a place for your open idea contest. If you are hosting a 'Hack-a-Thon' or other online based challenges, you will need to make sure there is enough bandwidth for the event. For non-tech idea contests, you need to make sure there is enough space for everybody, and having breakout rooms can be helpful.

Innovation labs may be the perfect place for you to rent out a space for your idea contest or you may need to look elsewhere. Wherever you choose to host the contest, a laid back and collaborative atmosphere should be your aim. Don't forget the beer;). If there are not innovation labs or hubs in your area, UNICEF provides this great guide to starting one yourself.

Have you experimented with innovative spaces? Have you found that space effects the idea process?