Best Practice #9: Open Innovation Challenge

Open Innovation Challenge

The Austrian Federal Railways ÖBB installed an Open Innovation Lab at Vienna Central Station. A space for employers, internal and external innovators and managers to co-create and bring ideas to life.

First of all, ÖBB organized an Online Open Innovation Challenge to gather ideas on relevant topics like find your seat easily, wellbeing at train stations or digitalization in rail cargo. Users, customers, employees and suppliers were invited to submit ideas and participate in this online idea-finding process. 179 people submitted their ideas. Most of them were analysed and evaluated with respect to customer value, feasibility and degree of innovation. The ideas were generated, clustered and handed over to the Open Innovation Lab for further development, prototyping and testing. Participants in the Open Innovation Lab are balanced between internal and external experts, employees, managers and users.

A jury chose three winning ideas. One of them, an electronic train information device, is now in its pilot phase.


A setting which is close to customers
The ÖBB open innovation project started with an open call- the Open Innovation Forum. Customers were invited to post, comment and evaluate ideas during a period of two months. 179 people submitted their ideas. Most of them were analysed and evaluated concerning customer value, feasibility and degree of innovation. This activity opened the minds of customers and public to the co-creation process. After that, a jury identified those ideas worth being further developed. A physical innovation lab equipped with flexible furniture (whiteboards and blackboards, flipcharts, interactive wall, lots of prototyping equipment and space) was set up next to a train platform, which made it easy and quick for the co-creation team to test prototypes and get feedback.


Long-term employees in public companies, but not only there, do not fully support (radical) changes or do participate in the development of new ideas and businesses. But it was important to include all staff within the open innovation process to ensure that the process results were actually accepted and implemented. The right selection of tools and methods was crucial.

Co-Create Best Practice Full Report 2017

Contact: Peter Zehetbauer, ÖBB Holding, Wien, Österreich

Project Webpage:

Foto Credits: ÖBB Holding