The Benefits of Open Innovation in Low-Tech SMEs

Quilts of Denmark is a start-up company that has the ambition to produce functional quilts and pillows. They want to provide a healthy sleep. This case, featured in the book The Balancing Act of Innovation, shows different management challenges related to open innovation. It describes how the founders started a new venture based on this simple idea and using competencies of other organizations and companies to launch successfully the first functional quilt in the world.


The case gives us a nice setting to think about how Open Innovation can be applied in low tech. SMEs. We focus in particular on:

  1. The role of the vision of the founders;
  2. The strengths and liabilities of a SME, when it starts developing a new business with external innovation partners;
  3. Why the company experienced problems in differentiating the functional quilt from other ordinary  quilts and how QOD could further differentiate the functional quilt;
  4. What strategy should the company use when it develops the new generation functional quilts?

The case shows nicely that open innovation is also valuable for SMEs in low tech environments.

This article is a free preview of the book The Balancing Act of Innovation edited by Philippe Silberzahn and Walter Van Dyck.

By Wim Vanhaverbeke

About the Author

Wim Vanhaverbeke is professor Strategy and Innovation at the University of Hasselt. He is also visiting professor at Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School and ESADE Business school. He published in several international journals and is co-editor with Henry Chesbrough and Joel West of “Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm”, a book about the research challenges related to Open Innovation.
He is extending research about open innovation and open business models by setting up the European Center for Open and Collaborative Innovation (Exnovate) and by doing joint research with research partners from different universities around the globe.
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The benefits of open innovation in low-tech SMEs