Messe München International, organizer of the Ispo shows in Munich and Beijing, is launching a new, independent “Ispo Open Innovation” platform to promote innovation in the sporting goods sector. The new platform, which is described as the first initiative of this kind by a trade fair organization, calls for the establishment of a global community on innovation.Ispo.com through which consumers can collaborate with vendors and retailers in the development of new products that yet cannot be found in stores.

The new project is part of Ispo's program to connect with the sports market on a year-round basis. The North Face, Kjus, Toray, SportScheck and another yet unnamed retailers have already registered to take part in the project. Kjus and Toray are asking ski professionals and consumers to help develop “the perfect ski jacket.” TNF is planning to collect feedback for its apparel collection, specifically for the development of a jacket's innovative heat insulation. SportScheck is understood to be curious about customers' views on its personal online coaching system.

Ispo is inviting end users to become “co-creators” of future products. It proposes to the more demanding athletes – professionals as well as amateurs – to swap ideas for new products with like-minded people on the new platform and to discuss their needs with companies in the sector to help them develop better products. They may be invited to take part in product tests and share their assessment of current products with the producers, provided they keep an attitude of fairness. Insults are banned.

Collaborative projects may be conducted through Ispo Open Innovation in sequential phases, with an interval of about 14 to 18 days, each focusing on a specific question of an overall project. In respective subsequent voting steps, consumers may be asked to vote on their most preferred suggestions by other participants.

Any sports vendor or retailer can propose its project to the Ispo team, including those that are not currently exhibiting at any of its fairs. Fesi, the European sporting goods industry federation, is understood to have signed up as a partner in the program through Epsi, its own platform for sports innovation.

The new platform uses special software developed by Innosabi, a German company that has already participated in numerous cross-industry open innovation projects over the last five years and helped bring to market over 20 products through its co-creation platform, unserAller.de. At the next show in Munich, Ispo will demonstrate previous applications of the concept in the automotive sector and other industries at a stand in the corridor between Halls A1 and A2 at its Munich show.

In the sporting goods sector, Mammut has already used open innovation as a tool to develop an advertising program for its recent 150th anniversary. According to Messe München, open innovation can reduce development times by up to 42 percent and cut development costs by as much as 20 percent. It can also reduce the risk that an innovation becomes a flop.

Ispo Open Innovation is seen as a derivative of the previously launched Ispo Community project, where consumers have already cast more than 100,000 votes to generate new contents. Messe München, which regards its Ispo Open Innovation program as a pilot project, plans to involve companies that participate in its other trade shows in the areas of construction, engineering, electronics, logistics and other sectors.