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Idea Generation Tool

On this page, different methods are shown that serve the generation of ideas.

Ideas are ideas, thoughts or conceptions that contribute to finding a solution or implementing a solution to a problem. The need for solutions comes in different forms: as technical or social change, as competition, as legal requirements, etc.

Idea sources: external and internal sources of ideas are suitable for generating ideas

Ideas can be found both inside and outside the organisation. External sources of ideas are suppliers, economic actors, end customers, middlemen, consultants, experts, etc. Internal sources of ideas can be found in your own organisation, departments, customer service, city departments, production, etc. The sources listed here can be used both as suppliers of existing ideas/solutions and as suppliers of newly developed (original) ideas. 

Idea generation 1: using existing ideas

For many problems there are already proven solutions. Existing ideas have at least two advantages over newly developed ideas: They have already proven themselves somewhere, i.e. they are usually already successful. Secondly, they can be transferred more quickly to your own problem. This means that the time to implementation is shortened.

Thus, examples of how the same challenges have been mastered in other Smart Cities are helpful when it comes to challenges for your own Smart City. These examples are often found in networks and associations on the topic (examples:,, in the Smart-City-Atlas, Bee Smart City database

Idea generation 2: developing original ideas

If no suitable solutions are available, new ideas for smart city applications can be sought within workshops using suitable tools. Here, a "germ" is important for the search for ideas. Germs can be questions, problems, needs, goals and visions. A whole range of methods for finding ideas are known from innovation management.

The most common methods are described below (see Methods for Idea Generation).

Excursus: external idea generation through Open Innovation - especially for Smart Cities

Open Innovation refers to an open innovation process in which new ideas are generated in cooperation with internal and external sources and by disclosing knowledge, technologies and content. This means that all interested residents, entrepreneurs, etc. of a city can participate in finding solutions or basically enter new ideas. This is usually simplified by the use of digital means (e.g. platform, forum, etc.). An overview of the paradigm as well as the most important internet platforms offers:

Open Innovation offers great opportunities especially for Smart Cities, because they systematically integrate citizen participation in the innovation process.  One example is the City of Vienna:


Vahs, Dietmar and Alexander Brem (2013): Innovationsmanagement: Von der Idee zur erfolgreichen Vermarktung. Stuttgart: Schäffer-Poeschel Verlag für Wirtschaft.

Wentz, R. C. (2008): Ideengenerierung. In: Die Innovationsmaschine. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. S. 123 – 145.