Pepsi would wish to conceal from Coke its interest in say, a beverage processing innovation. One way companies can accomplish this is via carefully worded "technology challenges" fielded through open innovation intermediaries such as NineSigma, Innocentive and Yet2.com. These intermediaries solicit solution proposals from external technology providers without revealing their client's identity. In these instances, a technology seeking client is asking qualified technology providers to approach them.
However, in other instances, a client company may wish to proactively prospect technology providers it has independently targeted...but without revealing its identity to the prospetive partner. How to successfully manage this? Innovation intermediary to the rescue, again. BFS Innovations creates "information firewalls" for its clients. This enables me to gather essential information needed to assess a technology provider's capabilities and IP credentials without prematurely revealing my client's identity.
In contacting prospective technology partners, BFS Innovations presents its credentials to them as an established and reputable open innovation intermediate. This validation as an ethical intermediate sets technology providers at ease and facilitates information flow despite the requirement that at least initially, my client's identity must remain a secret.