Open Innovation

Open Innovation is underpinned by the belief that good ideas can come from anywhere, so it is worth looking widely and beyond your usual supply chains. Innovate UK Business Connect has well-established methods for supporting Open Innovation, having run 200+ innovation challenges across the world. Our model allows diverse collaborators to respond to shared industry challenges in a mutually beneficial way.

Introduction to Open Innovation

Our Open Innovation (OI) programme supports Challenge Holders in finding innovative solutions to their key business challenges. This is via a proven process for identifying innovators with promising solutions, assessing their ideas, and facilitating collaborative pilots leading to positive outcomes.

  • For Challenge Holders, the OI process strengthens supply chains, allows quick exposure to new technologies and leverages Innovate UK’s cross-sector networks to fast track the innovation procurement process in a time efficient manner.
  • Solution Providers gain access to large businesses, engage in ongoing project collaboration, receive up to £25,000 in seed funding, and benefit from pitching and development support.

This video highlights the opportunities within Open Innovation in Nigeria and the support available.

Activities such as Open Innovation challenges, Open Innovation collaborations, Documented Case Studies, Presentation and Pitch Training, and New Technology Development secure Innovation Development Partnerships between Challenge Holders and Solutions Providers to address key socio-economic challenges for each country.

Previous Challenges

Our Open Innovation programme has developed new partnerships, accelerating the penetration of innovation, and increasing supply chain robustness and diversification in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.


Challenge Holder: Flamingo Horticulture International

Challenge: To detect and control False Codling Moths in their chilli crops.

Case Study: Read about how UK-based company Petiole presented a fresh approach to Kenya’s long-standing False Codling Moth challenge. View here.

Challenge Holder: The WEEE Centre

Challenge: To find ways to re-use and recycle Cathode Ray Tubes.

Case Study: Read about how Milav and RISE addressed this challenge in 2023 and how also Quinnovations and Blue Planet Environmental Solutions worked collaboratively to tackle CRT waste in 2024. View here.

Challenge Holder: Kenya Airways

Challenge: To find innovative ways to increase airport accessibility using next generation technologies.

Challenge Holder: AMREF Health Africa

Challenge: Seeking ways to transform its digital learning and data collection tools for Community Health Workers, using next-generation technologies to create a more user-friendly and intuitive system.

Challenge Holder: Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK)

Challenge: To find innovative ways to increase shelf life and enable longer transportation times for perishable goods.


Challenge Holder: Hinckley Recycling

Challenge: To find innovative solutions for second life batteries and creating a Battery Management System. TGI asked us to help find solutions for crop damage by birds, a major source of food insecurity across Africa. In addition, Innovate UK has signed a Letter of Collaboration with First Bank Nigeria to run an Open Innovation challenge with the Bank’s extensive client base.

Challenge Holder: Berger Paints

Challenge: Looking for methods of converting expired paints, and paint fractions and components, into usable paints and other beneficial products.

Challenge Holder: Animal Care

Challenge: Looking for innovative ways to transform poultry manure into energy sources and other valuable outputs.

Challenge Holder: Lafarge Nigeria

Challenge: Building New From Old – Circular Construction Challenge

South Africa

Challenge Holder: Unilever

Challenge: To identify innovative solutions to promote a culture of ‘reduce, reuse and refill’ for their single-use plastic products sold by small traders and as online consumer goods.

Case Study: Read about how Triple Shine Detergent Solutions is set to revolutionise plastic waste management in rural communities. View here.

Challenge Holder: Rand Water

Challenge: To discover new approaches to the efficient treatment and beneficiation of drinking water.

Challenge Holder: Dolphin Coast Landfill Management DCLM (operated by Veolia)

Challenge: To accelerate their leachate concentration process and valorise paper waste.

Babar Javed

Our Expert

Babar Javed

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