A Network & Learn event as part of the EBU's Implementing Open Innovation (IOI) programme brought together representatives of several public service media organizations in Germany along with colleagues from Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Belgium, Greece and Poland. They gathered at IRT in Munich to share strategies and experiences related to implementing innovation. EBU Members can access a summary report of the event, along with the slides presented, via the IOI workspace.

In welcoming the group, IOI chair Robert Amlung (ZDF) stressed the importance of implementation. "If the innovation part, which is fun, just stays in the air and isn't actually implemented, it represents a waste of resources." He said that the IOI programme aims to help Members move forward together as PSM organizations.

Four of the EBU's German Members gave presentations on their innovation processes, along with a view from the Media Lab Bayern, an incubator for media-related start-ups. While the approaches at the Members contrast from organization to organization, it was clear that the need to create value through innovation is a key driving force for all.


BR (Bayerischer Rundfunk) has had a Strategy & Innovation department since 2011, focusing on product innovation but also organizational, process, structure and – most importantly – cultural innovation. While the dedicated department centralizes several innovation-related activities, BR also places digital experts in editorial teams across the organization, as a decentralized means of embedding innovation. "Process partners" play a key role in interdisciplinary project teams, helping to facilitate and guide the innovation process.


At MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk) a new accelerator for innovation will be launched next year. MDR_next aims to foster a fertile environment for innovation, with the goal of implementing at least three successful products per year from at least 30 pitches. The latter would come mostly from MDR staff. A three-stage process will run from Discovery, to Prototyping, and on to Realization. In the last stage, projects selected for realization will be assigned a project team with an external project leader, along with an editorial sponsor who commits to operationalizing the project if successful.


One key aspect of innovation at ZDF is having a wholly owned commercial subsidiary, ZDF Digital. It helps by opening up new possibilities for partnership and by being able to act in more agile ways. ZDF Digital works both with ZDF and with other companies, using innovative concepts such as its proto.lab "room within a room" environment for user testing and #speedconsulting to facilitate the sharing of expert knowledge around media technology.


NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) takes a different approach, with highly decentralized innovation activities. The different directorates in the organization remain quite independent of each other and no single person or team has responsibility for innovation. Whether related to content, structure or technology, innovation happens in different groups and different ways. Partnership with Hamburg's next media accelerator provides NDR with a good overview of start-ups in the region and across Europe, opening the door to potential further collaboration.

Join the Implementing Open Innovation group to keep informed about future events, which include both Network & Learn workshops and themed visited to Members and other innovative media organizations.

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