Innovation is seldom a one-man effort. More and more often, inspiration for innovation lies outside your own organization. Inspiration comes from ideas and knowledge from other companies, regions or industries that you can translate and adapt to your own context. A cross-pollination of all these ideas generates the best innovations.

The Flemish economy has fast become an inspiration-driven economy (Devoldere et al, 2014), with cross-pollination at the center of many successful innovations. Flanders is ideally situated to exploit the full potential of the inspiration economy. But how to go about this? How do you make the most of a cross-pollination with others?

Despite its vast potential, cross-pollination remains underappreciated as a source of innovation. In addition, the phenomenon has hardly received any scholarly attention. This is why Flanders DC and Vlerick Business School have decided to invest significantly in developing a model for cross-industry innovation. The model was established after interviews with experts and a systematic literature review of innovation cluster management as well as several success stories, such as the PRoF consortium and Flanders’ Bike Valley.

Cross-industry innovation is obviously quite complex. Though no two situations are alike, two important phases are inherent in the process. It all starts with the inspiration phase, in which organizations team up across the industries, inspiring each other to find a common challenge. Next is the innovation phase, which will eventually result in a marketable innovation.

In short: you need inspiration to get innovation.

Both phases contain the same four steps: challenge, connect, cross-pollinate and create. The website provides a useful presentation of all four, based on the story of Jan Van Hecke and the PRoF consortium. We explain how to get started with each step, which tips & tricks to take into account and which tools to use along the way.

Cross-industry innovation inevitably involves various organizations. This kind of collaboration is not self-evident. We identified three key areas of concern throughout the process. Do you still have the right focus? Are the right partners on board? Do you have enough energy to keep going? For each of these concerns we provide a checklist and some useful guidlines.

We believe that cross-pollination opens up a lot of opportunities for innovation. Individual organizations can be a perfect starting point. Your company, too, could realize beautiful innovations, once you succeed in bringing the right partners together and getting them inspired. Cluster organizations are another important breeding ground for cross-industry innovations, seeing that it's in their very nature to bring partners together. The new Flemish cluster policy is directed to precisely this. We hope our innovation model and the related checklists will further contribute to the endeavor. Would you like to know more about the model we present on this website? Download the full study in English: Managing Cross-Industry Innovation Clusters (Devoldere et al, 2016). 

Good luck with your own cross-industry innovation!

Flanders DC and Vlerick Business School