Collaboration – The Smart Way To Invest In Innovation?

Girls in STEM Mentor jan Choudhury

by | 15 Sep, 2020 | Untapped Thinking

Untapped shows how new innovation opportunities with a high return on investment can span far beyond the competencies of the core offering.

During a recent review of innovation case studies, we were struck by how many brand, product or service-based ‘innovation-by-collaboration’ examples have recently stolen headlines. Whether it’s Lego + IKEA, or Waitrose + Deliveroo, frequent new examples are emerging to show us that new innovation opportunities with a high return on investment can span far beyond the competencies of the core offering. 

The advantages of collaboration are wide & varied, and as we explored these recent examples we felt there were 3 interesting case study ‘opportunities’ that could spark ideas for your business.

Image Source: Ikea

Case Study 1: Collaborate To Reach An Un-Met Need – Lego + IKEA

“Play is the most intuitive and powerful way for children to learn and grow. However, children and adults sometimes have different views when it comes to play and creativity at home” (IKEA Play report).

IKEA and Lego identified a clear un-met need in that while children love to play with Lego, the grown-ups in their world often crave more order and a tidier environment. This collaboration between Lego and IKEA allows for a fun and playful experience as the new furniture is studded so Lego can be attached, and it also provides highly functional toy storage at the same time. This allows the children to play, display and tidy their toys more easily.

Actionable takeaway: consider the un-met needs and tensions in your category – who could you collaborate with in order to break these tension points and address these un-met needs?

Image Source:

Case Study 2: Collaborate To Reach An Underserved Target – Waitrose + Deliveroo

“Our trial with Deliveroo has huge potential to give new and existing customers greater choice and flexibility for when and how they want to shop with Waitrose” (Waitrose Executive Director, James Bailey). Hot on the heels of the Ocado delivery switch from Waitrose to Marks & Spencer, and the success of Amazon Fresh, Waitrose have announced a collaboration with delivery service, Deliveroo to target underserved Waitrose shoppers. The service started with localised prototype delivery zones in Bracknell and Bristol and will scale up more broadly in the UK in the coming months.

Actionable takeaway: consider the underserved targets in your category – who could you collaborate with in order to approach new users or new moments with existing users?

Image source: H&M

Case Study 3: Collaborate To Create And Excite– Fashion and Music

The arts have always been the playground of collaboration. Fashion partnerships at H&M started out small and sporadic and have now grown into one of the biggest pillars of their fashion announcements every year. More recently we also saw the collaboration of successful music artist, Dermot Kennedy with the 2020 acting phenomenon that is Paul Mescall in their concert at The Natural History Museum. ‘The 28-year-old Irish singer broke records in July when he sold more than 30,000 tickets for his livestreamed show at the Natural History Museum, making it the biggest ever pay-per-view performance outside of Asia’ (GQ). 

Actionable takeaway: consider non-competitive industry peers that share your ethos to innovation. Could you reach out and brainstorm together to spark broader, unexpected innovation approaches for your sector?

At Untapped we also take collaboration seriously. We deliberately partner with an external network of over 60 associates who have complementary innovation expertise areas such as semiotics and cultural trend specialists, design and technology advisors, and leading-edge university programs. 

We are now about to take our close collaborations even further as we put the finishing touches to Untapped OnTap, a new type of innovation subscription service that brings you regular fast-track access to expert innovation insight and thinking, when and how you need it. 

Contact us here to learn more about Untapped OnTap.

We would love to connect with you to share and discuss these approaches in more detail, please contact us at:

Untapping Human Needs, Technical Possibilities & Future Trends. 

Transformative Ideas, Faster.

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Written by Deirdre Walters

Hi, I’m D! I’m a founding partner of Untapped Innovation. We help scientists, engineers and R&D experts to create better products by listening for human needs, future trends and technical possibilities: fresh thinking, breakthrough products. I love nothing more than combining ingredients from different worlds – everyday human life, emerging technologies and future trends – to invent exciting new products & services. With a degree in Chemistry and a broad spectrum of experience in manufacturing, technology development, and marketing, I have a firm grasp of how to translate new ideas into action, creating big impact.