Stefano Maffulli • I believe there is a correlation between open source and open innovation in some cases. They're not the same thing though. Examples of open innovation achieved via open source are projects like Eclipse, Apache or OpenStack. On the other end of the spectrum are open source projects like SugarCRM, Android and in general projects whose copyright is owned only by one company: these I have a hard time considering examples of open innovation.

Lynne Greer Jolitz • There is also a difference between "free" and "freedom". Most Americans view the term "free" as "no charge". It could be a stick of gum as a marketing promotion, or a free spare tire on Craigslist free stuff listing. It could be treasure or trash.

"Freedom" is very different - it encompasses beliefs on conduct in your society. Freedom to choose. Freedom not to choose. Freedom to speak out. Freedom to remain silent...

"Free" implies that the product vended has an indeterminate value that may actually cost me more. I can get a free knife *if* I listen to their sales pitch. I can get a coupon for a free ice cream cone, but only if I give up my personal information for a mailing list. I can get a free tire, but if it turns out it has a hole I have to pay to repair or dispose of it...

Just as "like and equal are not the same" (if you recall the L'Engle children's classic "A Wrinkle in Time"), "free and freedom are not the same".

Freedom to develop open source for the benefit of others is wonderful. Assuming the only value to the work is that it is "free" debases the effort.

Jonathan Le Lous • Hi Stefano, Hi Lynne, Thank you for your comment.

@Stefano: I think you are right ! In many case open source have the same approach as open innovation. I just would like to say open innovation is an R&D collaborative approach for competitors. But H. Chesbourg didn't talk about freedom or interoperability (if i don't make a mistake). An open innovation could be open only for a small team and closed for other. For example, Opencore is an open innovation model but not really an open source approach.

@Lynne: In France we don't have the same problem because Free (Gratuit) and Freedom (Liberté) are very different words. I think you are right too, Freedom and free (no charge) have not the same objective ("Free speach not free beer" R. Stallman). But are you sure that is possible to separate free and open source ? I'm agree with you about the real cost of open source but I'm not sure if open source software wasn't "gratis" download it will be able to develop so easily...

I'm a positive guy ;-) I think we say the same thing: Open source is an open innovation approach with a freedom ethic and a free diffusion. One of the key of success is the capacity to develop a real and dynamic community.

Balthas Seibold • Thanks for the interesting discussion. I have a little addition in terms of wording. In fact, I have struggled with the terms "open" and "freedom" in an article about the potential of "Harnessing the knowledge commons for open innovation in developing countries". I ended up inventing the (very unenglish) term of "Freedom-to-Innovate-Centred Open Innovation".

I would be happy to get feedback on a better term and other comments on the issue / article. See here (pages 87 - 92 in the pdf-reader)

Summary: The article talks about the potentials of open innovation for developing countries. Whereas intellectual property rights (IPR) and closed innovation systems often hinder the exchange and sharing of knowledge, open innovation-oriented products and software are especially designed to being transferred and improved from common users like private persons, software developers and companies. With the example of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Seibold demonstrates the business and knowledge transfer potentials emerging for developing countries from these “knowledge commons” models.

Stephen Walli • I tend to like Drucker's definition of innovation: "Change that creates a new dimension of performance." It tends to be tied to commercial success, in the cycle of "invent, translate, commercialize." Open source does correlate nicely with innovation in as much as the buckets of technology covered by liberal licenses matching the OSD are rapidly assembled into new innovative solutions. Likewise, the buckets themselves can undergo rapid incremental innovation through contribution encouraged by a functioning community and the liberal open source licensing terms.

I can agree that Apache (all the projects under the ASF) and Eclipse (as in the IDE) are great examples of rapidly evolving technology, i.e. sustained innovative change. It's unclear that OpenStack is accepting a lot of external contributions at this time. SugarCRM has an enormous developer community around it using SugarCRM as the basis for innovation, as has Android. Henrik Ingo's investigations ( seem to indicate that having the IP ownership held in a neutral way encourages the next level of contribution.