Interested in partnerships for innovation? Wärtsilä is creating an Open Innovation Playbook for innovating together

6 min read
03 Feb 2020
Sunanda Jayaseelan
Even a global maritime and energy major such as Wärtsilä cannot innovate by itself because successful innovation requires the insights of other key stakeholders. To make the process seamless, Wärtsilä, along with its partners, is drafting a common playbook that articulates shared mindsets and values, accelerates innovation and is open to incorporating new ideas and best practices together.

In a world where rapid and continuous innovation has become necessary for success in the marketplace, Wärtsilä has taken a key lesson to heart. “To make innovation successful, we realised we need to be more open than ever. We know we cannot do everything on our own,” says Teus van Beek of the Open Innovation Team at Wärtsilä. 

“All depends on collaboration. The way to actually work together in a trusted mindset will be the difference between success and failure.” 

This approach to collaborative innovation has already come to life in projects such as IntelliTug at the Wärtsilä Acceleration Centre in Singapore, where innovation and the development of smart technologies is done by collaborating with industry, academia, and local partners. One of the largest projects to reflect this collaborative approach is Wärtsilä’s Smart Technology Hub in Vaasa, on the west coast of Finland. With a total investment of approximately EUR 200 million, including EUR 83 million from Wärtsilä towards modern testing and production technology, the Hub invites key stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem – from customers, suppliers and start-ups, to academia and think tanks – to collaborate on smart solutions for the maritime and energy sectors. 

As a basis for the collaboration, Wärtsilä together with an initial set of partners has set out on the journey to develop an approach to simplify and accelerate this type of multilateral cross-industry collaboration. To form a trusted environment, this group of partners has jointly developed mindset and values that will form the foundation of the future collaboration. Building on this foundation the work continues to develop an exemplary process and methods that aim at supporting the collaboration.

Enter the Playbook

This work has been named the Open Innovation Playbook.

“The Playbook is a guide and a toolbox to run open innovation projects inside and together with Wärtsilä. It is an easy and approachable guide that is collaborative in its very nature,” says Philipp Holtkamp, General Manager, Open Innovation, Wärtsilä.

The Playbook has been conceived of as a guide, and not a process that needs to be followed religiously, according to Kenneth Widell, Senior Project Manager for Wärtsilä’s Smart Technology Hub.

“In case anybody has better methods, we will be more than happy to take those into the Playbook and share those with all. We want to learn, collect, and share the best practices in the ecosystem,” Widell says.

Holtkamp says that Wärtsilä and its partners were aware of the risks of focusing too much on the creation of the Playbook.

“We did not want to dig ourselves in; we wanted to be productive as soon as possible. That’s why we are developing the Playbook while ramping up our initial Hub projects,” Holtkamp says. 

Making sure the Playbook creates real and tangible value for projects is a key concern for the team, so they are developing it while driving the projects forward, identifying challenges and validating approaches. The team is also benchmarking the Playbook against past projects to figure out if it could have played a meaningful role there. 

The Playbook is being brought to fruition at the Smart Partner Campus, a virtual and physical Open Innovation facility within the Wärtsilä’s Smart Technology Hub.


Building a value-driven community

In November 2018, Wärtsilä CEO Jaakko Eskola invited other companies to join the firm on its journey of Open Innovation and co-creation at the Smart Technology Hub. 

“We are not looking for exclusive partnerships, instead we are looking to build a community of like-minded partners driven by mutual interests and common goals,” Holtkamp says. 

“Work alongside with Wärtsilä, instead of for Wärtsilä” 


With the Playbook, Wärtsilä is chartering a clear course for the future. 

“We are creating a unique platform for innovation and cocreation. It will enable our partners to work alongside with Wärtsilä, instead of for Wärtsilä,” Holtkamp concludes. 

The Open Innovation Playbook and the Smart Partner Campus projects provide a window to a future of innovation that is increasingly, and truly, collaborative.

Developing the Playbook is an ever-evolving process. The first edition of the Open Innovation Playbook will also be available on Wärtsilä’s web site in the coming months.

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