Why does an AI for bakeries save lives? What do Formula 1 and McDonald's have in common? And what can car manufacturers learn from the video game industry? In the following article, we will take a closer look and demonstrate how the boundaries between industries are becoming fainter due to digitization, sustainability, and trends.

Why Cross-Industry Innovation?

The concept of "Cross-Industry Innovation" involves the approach of transferring technological or procedural knowledge from other industries (or different departments) into one's own structures. For example, the online retailer Amazon was able to learn a great deal from postal companies like DHL in its early years to optimize shipping. There's no need to reinvent the wheel when previously conceived solutions can be applied to your work.

From croissant to cancer detection

Bakeries and supermarkets in Japan offer hundreds of pastries, with some of them looking quite similar. This can lead to long queues, especially with inexperienced cashiers. Hisashi Kambe's "BakeryScan" addressed this issue in 2013, simplifying the correct identification process of croissants and more. The algorithm can differentiate between various types of pastries but could also adapted to identify cancers cells with similar visual cues. Again - making identification easier, but this time for quicker lifesaving diagnoses.

Pit Stop for Innovation

In the 1970s, Formula 1 wasn't just the leading motorsport and a catalyst for automobile development; it also inspired the fast-food giant McDonald's. Back then, a pit stop took around 45 seconds to change tires, refuel, and perform minor repairs. Ideally, it should not take much longer to place an order and receive it at a drive-thru. McDonald's may not reach the current top-tier values of 2-second pit stops, but there are certainly other undiscovered synergies waiting to be explored.

Drive and Play

Staying in the realm of automotive, car manufacturers can draw valuable lessons from the video game industry. Beyond obvious aspects like steering wheel design and button layouts, this extends to digital vehicle design and attribute testing. In the everyday lives of drivers, gamification is used to reward eco-friendly and efficient driving with points and ratings.

Obstacles and Boundaries of Cross-Industry Innovation

There are numerous factors that obstruct the innovation process. One obstacle is the limited adoption of open innovation, which leads to a lack of successful integration methods, especially in Germany. According to the Fraunhofer Institute, cross-Industry Innovation tends to be applied towards the end of product development when concepts are already in place rather than harnessing its creative potential in the early stages. Regulations and knowledge gaps can also be hindrances.

However, these challenges can be overcome through smart partnerships, the involvement of experts, and the cultivation of an open innovation culture.


The innovation process thrives on openness, taking inspiration and a diversity of thoughts. It doesn't require all competencies to reside within a single organization; new synergies can emerge through clever collaboration and research. LEGO has been working with fans for years to develop new products, successfully leveraging the crowd's input. Similarly, we at ekipa created a platform for those interested in cross-industry collaboration. To sum it up:

  1. Industry-Borders should be crossed!
  2. Build strong partnerships and communities.
  3. Stay open-minded and cultivate a culture of interchange inside & outside the company.
  4. You might not need to reinvent the wheel, but you can always find ways to adapt it.
  5. Look for help and inspiration from experts (sometimes they are in unexpected places, e.g. LEGO Fans)

In closing, here is a little exercise for you: Which industry can you still learn from? What product or service has recently impressed you and could aid in problem-solving? We hope this article has provided valuable insights and inspired you to find innovative solutions!

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