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Our latest innovationHUB emphasized the need today’s companies have to build an innovation ecosystem open to different actors, independent of whether these are part of their own structure.

Calidad Pascual is a clear example, firstly because of its ambitious program that incorporates external startups and entrepreneurs to their innovation, but also because it has recently extended this work to actors within the organization.

We spoke with Javier Paniagua, Director of Digital Transformation at Calidad Pascual, about the open innovation program Pascual Startup Intrapreneurship, which uses an ideas crowdsourcing community to transform employees into intrapreneurs and opens the door for them to lead and develop their own projects.

Innovators (I): When we speak of innovation, is it a closed circuit, or is it also open to contributions from outside the company?

Javier Paniagua (JP): I believe it is crucial nowadays to gather knowledge and talent from all possible sources, within and without the company, even among competitors. We are moving toward an increasingly global economy, where innovating with your own abilities is no longer enough. We need to be quicker, go further than others. We have been doing so externally for two years, and internally we have just launched an intrapreneurship program with all our employees.

I: In this sense, it seems that when we talk about open innovation we only think of startups and external alliances, but what about your own employees?

JP: This program, called Pascual Startup Intrapreneurship, is open to contributions from all of the group’s employees, representing approximately 2,100 people. We use the program to gather ideas from our people for current and future business at Calidad Pascual.

I: When you give total freedom for people to share ideas, a certain dispersion seems inevitable. How can the program guarantee that these ideas focus on the organization’s objectives?

JP: Ideas shared by employees fall under seven categories that coincide with the organization’s strategic lines for 2020. Also, the program is completed with the launch of occasional challenges to stimulate the community. This gives us an active, living element that lets us analyze shared ideas in real time and focus them toward the launch of real projects that we can execute.

I: How does a program like this fit in the organization? Do you have to overcome internal resistance?

JP: It is not simple, because people are already very occupied with their daily work. But in the end, what we achieve is the ability to listen to and reward ideas by our employees. An effort must definitely be made, but that is a step you must choose to take, or not: there is no middle ground. And, in any event, the benefits we hope to obtain far outweigh the effort invested.