SVM’s Open Innovation Model of Rural Development: Better Together

Smart Village Movement, October 13, 2022

Sept 30, 2022 -Anna Fitter for Smart Village Movement in Alliance with Berkeley-Haas

Would you unhesitatingly say that all the smartest people in the world work in your organization?

Probably not.

Then why do we cling to this misconception and expect our employees to perform all their creative work alone?

Open Innovation is basically an alternative to this conventional idea that  information has to stay within preset confines. Knowledge is Power is an outdated concept in this digital age. Now, shared knowledge is the REAL power. It’s a mindset, if you will, of being open to sharing and receiving information.

Knowledge Sharing
Image Source: Unsplash

SVM was born in UC Berkeley’s Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation where a unique proprietary definition for a “Smart Village” was established:

“A community that is empowered with digital technology and open innovation platforms to access global markets.”
–  Prof. Solomon Darwin, Founder of Smart Village Movement

We’ll discuss more about our one-of-a-kind Open-Innovation Platform in detail in our next blog, but let’s understand the What and Why of Open-Innovation today and how SVM has manifested this credo in our mindset and daily operations.

When Smart Village Movement first started pilot programs in rural Meghalaya in 2019, stakeholders would often wonder in amazement how we  sought and collaborated with other corporate partners, academia and non-profit organisations, even those that could appear to be competition.

As a facilitator and integrator of solutions, SVM rigorously resists creating parallel initiatives and duplicating development projects. Our first instinct is to seek existing resources and expertise and bring them together on our Open-Innovation Platform to co-innovate  sustainable and holistic solutions to common challenges that underserved communities face. Every organisation has its strengths and Unique Selling Proposition (USP), so we  tap into the best in business, bring them into our collaborative ecosystem and help them refine their business model to suit the rural context. This Open Innovation and Co-Innovation is one of the strongest founding principles of Smart Village Movement, second only to Sustainability.


SVM’s origins at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Center of Growth Markets.

Prof Solomon Darwin founded Smart Village Movement on Henry Chesbrough’s concept of Open Innovation. Dr. Henry Chesbrough is the co-founder of the Open Innovation Community and created the theory and coined the term “Open Innovation.” He is Executive Director of the Center for Open Innovation at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley,

In his own words, “The term Open-Innovation has come to mean an idea that companies need to make much greater use of external ideas and technologies in their own business and let unused internal ideas and technologies go outside to be used in other company’s businesses. The prevailing wisdom at the time (in the past) was if you want something done right, do it yourself. This new logic of open innovation turns that completely on its head and says the way that you win now is through collaboration, through sharing, through working together and building on top of one another, moving faster than other companies. Your competitive edge now comes from having more people work with you than anyone else.”:

Thus, Open Innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology. Open Innovation combines internal and external ideas into architectures and systems whose requirements are defined by a business model.

Henry Chesbrough, Open Innovation: The New Imperative (2003)

Knowledge has now become widespread and innovative ideas must be used quickly for better, more cost-efficient outcomes. This change offers novel ways to create value. However, we must of course, still perform the difficult and arduous work necessary to convert promising research results into products and services that satisfy customer needs. Innovators must integrate their ideas, expertise and skills with those outside the organization to deliver the result to the marketplace, using the most effective means possible.

In short, organizations that can harness outside ideas to advance their own businesses while leveraging their internal ideas outside their current operations will likely thrive in this new era of open innovation.

So, what is open innovation exactly?

We discussed how it is a mindset of being open to sharing and receiving information. But what does that mean in practical terms, and does it make good business sense in a Capitalist Market?

In my opinion, the best way to look at it is by comparing it to the more conventional ”closed innovation”.

Open vs Closed Innovation

Closed innovation relies on the idea that internal expertise (ideas), and internally managing that expertise, can sustainably produce new business. Information is kept within the confines of the company and is not shared with any external parties. Open innovation, on the other hand, is based on the belief that knowledgeable and creative individuals outside the company can also contribute to achieving strategic goals and that sharing intellectual property both ways is useful for different parties. The more information is gained, the more educated the decisions ultimately are.

Both have their place, as not all information can be shared with the outside world, but then again getting the input of thousands of consumers can result in a very significant competitive advantage.

Salesforce Trailblazer Lab Sohrarim in collaboration with Government of Meghalaya, SVM, Sauramandala Foundation, Project DEFY, Open Door Project, Hygge Energy, Curiosity Gym, Watsan

In Smart Village Movement, almost all projects involve some form of Open Innovation, where multiple partners are brought together to work towards a common goal of providing certain services in rural markets.  Examples: Click to learn how we used Open Innovation to bring STEM education and empowerment to rural Meghalaya with our Salesforce Trailblazer Labs  and Farmer Development Centers (FDC)

Our Triple Helix Model itself is a classic example of Innovation where SVM coordinates activities with Government, Academia, Corporates and Rural Communities to solve rural grand challenges.

Triple Helix Model Diagram

The best example is of course our unique digital Platform.  The SVM Open Innovation Platform

The Platform is a common ground where all stakeholders connect to access and share data for the co-innovation process. The various sections of the Platform classify different types of data that an average user might require to work on a project they find interesting and understand the ecosystem of the organization and regional profile as a whole.

Tune in next month to get a complete tour of Smart Village Movement’s Open Innovation Platform and to understand the benefits of this shared space.

ABOUT SMART VILLAGE MOVEMENT: The Smart Village Movement is a collaborative process facilitated by the SVM organization with the Berkeley-Haas Center of Growth Markets to create a Smart Village ecosystem. We partner with Government, Academia, Corporations, and Rural Communities to foster independence and sustainable rural development in Indian villages and other emerging markets. Our mission is to empower rural people through digital technologies and open innovation platforms to access global markets.