Philips taps into Dutch affinity for collective collaboration

Deeply ingrained in the Dutch DNA is a propensity for cooperation. It was only through collective effort that they were able to drain the polders and build their land and, nowadays, Dutch multi-national Philips is approaching collaboration in very modern way.

The Hackathon

’Collaborative innovation’ has become synonymous with the Philips way of working. By building effective partnerships with external third-party organisations, encouraging internal team-building and consulting with its customers, its innovations become not only unique but meaningful too.


One of the more unorthodox, unpredictable means of collaboration that has had a profound effect on the company’s development in this new digital age is the ‘Hackathon’ - a competition in which the company invites developers, start-ups, scientific teams and small businesses from across the world to solve a problem of Philips’ choosing. From how to help the world’s ageing populations, to innovations that can transform cities yet preserve natural resources. On the surface, the Hackathon is a fun way to push boundaries and think laterally. But it has also become a crucible for encouraging, celebrating and rewarding unique ideas.

A new way to collaborate

John Bell, Head of Strategy and Business Development at Philips explains: “There are so many fabulous ideas and astonishingly agile brains out there that it makes great business sense to collaborate with them, even for a short period. As a company we’ve learnt how crucial it is to co-operate – with governments, partners, stakeholders, smaller more agile start-ups and demanding consumer groups. The Hackathon presents a new way to collaborate and a great way to keep us all on our toes."