Call for Insights: Innovation Success Measures Report

Do you have proven success measures for your corporate innovation programs? If so, we’d like to interview you for an upcoming Crowd Companies report that I’m working on with Jaimy Szymanski

The report will showcase how companies are measuring success for each of the 10 corporate innovation programs established in previous Crowd Companies research. Looking internally and externally, we’ll examine how companies are determining the right objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) to align innovation program efforts with over-arching corporate and departmental goals.

This research will also delve into the challenges faced in measuring success, software and other tactics used for data analysis, and provide recommendations for aligning current digital, customer service, and product development metrics to fit with innovation programs. Readers will finish the report with a better understanding of how their innovation program(s) can contribute to greater, measurable organizational growth.

Interviews last approximately 30 minutes, and nothing will be shared without your approval. The report will be available in full to Crowd Companies members, and partially to the public.

Ideal interview candidates fulfill one or more of the following criteria:

  • Be in an innovation position (senior leadership preferred) at a large corporation, or otherwise contribute to company business model changes,
  • Ideate new products or features, or improvements to existing products and services,
  • Build new customer experiences brought forth by disruptive technologies,
  • Responsible for strategy and execution of one or more corporate innovation programs, internal or external,

Do you fit the bill? Please email me at for more information. Thank you in advance for contributing to our research that will benefit all corporate innovators.

Photo via Pexels

Washington DC – Collaboration on Innovation

By Carl Bohlin with Jeremiah Owyang

Washington DC was the recent stop for The Crowd Companies Innovation Council Spring Summit. Our Council Members – Innovation Leaders from cross vertical industries like Energy, Entertainment, Health and Beauty, Hospitality, Insurance and more – gathered at the AARP Innovation Hatchery, for a lengthy day of discovery, insight and innovation best practices.

Our day and a half events are designed to have a mixture of interaction, inspiration and useful content from other innovation peers. We’re often hosted at our members’ locations, this time at AARP.


Day 1: Where we explore various venues in the ongoing effort of innovation. We started our day at 1776, a startup incubator. Members had the opportunity to explore the facilities, learn about engagement between 1776 and the start-ups and how they leverage the Union Platform (assisting startups with connections, education, investments, resources and partners). We also learned more about the Challenge Cup competition which is a 75 city competition to identify promising start-ups. Members also had the opportunity for discussions with start-ups and the experiences they had while working with 1776.

Local Motors was the next stop on the excursion. Cool and wow come to mind as wrap up words. For those that don’t know, Local Motors produced the world’s first 3D printed car, Strati – talk about a game changer for auto manufacturing! They also produce the more commonly known autonomous shuttle, Olli. We hear often about advancements in autonomous driving but not as much on the manufacturing side – imagine printing a custom vehicle with electronics embedded into the body, replaceable body parts (and reusable materials) that know when wear, or damage from an accident requires attention to only that specific part which can be manufactured and sent direct for replacement.

We also learned of the open development platform Launch Forth. Launch Forth, a SaaS platform enabling the crowd to participate in rapid, open development, often through prize monies. Examples provided included Rally Fighter as the first co-created vehicle, GE’s Opal nugget ice maker (reducing time to market by as much as 44 months while gaining critical customer insights) and Dominos use of the crowd for its new pizza delivery vehicle, DXP. The HP Mars project will be kicking off soon with the crowd participating in making a dream into reality.

The council gathered afterward for private dinner discussion and reflection.

Day Two: AARP hosted Crowd Companies members at their innovation lab, The Hatchery. The openness and aesthetic nature of the lab further enhanced Council discussions.

Members of the council presenting case studies of innovation included AARP and Comcast.  Members were also treated to insights and learnings from NASA. Blockchain was also a topic with Jeremy Epstein providing his insight along with our own Jeremiah Owyang discussing the latest member directed research on Blockchain.

Common threads of the tours, presentations and discussions included;

Policy is good: Policy provides a starting point to build from. Everyone has one and should look at ways to enhance their policy to allow flexibility to foster innovation. If the federal government can overcome obstacles it can be done in large organizations. Persistence and flexibility with an “eye on the prize”.

Importance of Prototyping: Early, often and iterative. Right from the first day we discussed the importance of prototyping – along with what to do and more importantly not do. Don’t let design principles and flow overtake the importance of the prototyping and incorporating end user feedback.

Start Small:  Big budgets set expectations of big delivery. Start small with an appropriate budget to ensure the solution is heading the right direction; if it veers off course, it should be killed quickly. When moving forward, improve it iteration by iteration to meet expectations.

Prizes Matter:  From government to private entities we shared stories on the importance of prizes to engage the audience. If you want to get something done at a lower cost, and have users incorporating what they want, engage internal, external or all channels of the crowd. As one speaker mentioned, Gold, Good, Guts and Glory are the reasons people donate their time.

Blockchain IS coming: Although case studies are few they do span across industries. While many feel it’s off too far in the future, start-ups (or barbarians ready to tear down the walls said one) are working intently. When the technology is ready it will have far ranging implications for the middle layer of transactions.

Large Organizations are like Groupies: The allure of the start-up culture and nimbleness will always continue to nip at the heels of large entities – rightly so as some have the ability to completely smash the current business model. There are various forms of engagement from incubator, accelerator, innovation labs, partnerships, prizes, competition etc. Large organizations need to stay vigilant and fully vet how they view, engage, incorporate or partner with this external community. If done right huge success can be had by all, but external development brought into the “mother ship” can cause real angst.

Infographic: Blockchain Opportunities for Every Industry

By Jeremiah Owyang and Jaimy Szymanski

Blockchain technology has the potential to upend the way every industry manages its information and data, not only financial services.

Imagine being able to track shipments through your supply chain with ease, down to the individual package or even component level. Or, executing a contract with a vendor without the need for an intermediary auditor. Blockchain can even help verify materials and food sourcing to ensure health and ethical standards are maintained.

Though most who are familiar with the technology equate it to Bitcoin, opportunities abound in other verticals in effectively storing transaction, customer, and supplier data in a transparent, unchangeable ledger online. Any relationship that depends on third-party maintenance, or those that require multiple data sources to fulfill customer expectations for cohesive experiences, can be improved by blockchain applications.

In the latest Crowd Companies market projection report, “The Business Models of Blockchain” (available to our innovation council members only), we explore how blockchain technology enables transparency and accountability of assets in every industry through shared, immutable ledgers. These impacts are outlined at a high level in the infographic below. (Click here or on the image for the hi-res version to share with your networks.)

The potential industry disruptions included in the infographic are:

Legal: “Smart contracts” stored on the blockchain track contract parties, terms, transfer of ownership, and delivery of goods or services without the need for legal intervention.

Supply Chain: By utilizing a distributed ledger, companies within a supply chain gain transparency into shipment tracking, deliveries, and progress among other suppliers where no inherent trust exists.

Government: Blockchain offers promise as a technology to store personal identity information, criminal backgrounds, and “e-citizenship,” authorized by biometrics.

Energy: Decentralized energy transfer and distribution are possible via micro-transactions of data sent to blockchain, validated, and re-dispersed to the grid while securing payment to the submitter.  

Food: Using blockchain to store food supply chain data offers enhanced traceability of product origin, batching, processing, expiration, storage temperatures, and shipping.

Retail: Secure P2P marketplaces can track P2P retail transactions, with product information, shipment, and bills of lading input on the blockchain, and payments made via Bitcoin.

Healthcare: Electronic medical records stored in a blockchain, accessed and updated via biometrics, allow for the democratization of patient data and alleviate the burden of transferring records among providers.

Insurance: When autonomous vehicles and other smart devices communicate status updates with insurance providers via the blockchain, premium costs decrease as the need for auditing and authenticating data vanishes.

Travel and Hospitality: Passengers store their authenticated “single travel ID” on the blockchain for use in lieu of travel documents, identification cards, loyalty program IDs, and payment data.

Education: Educational institutions could utilize the blockchain to store credentialing data around assessments, degrees, and transcripts.

As part of our research coverage on disruptive technologies, blockchain aligns with our prior research on the Collaborative Economy, where technologies strengthen P2P relationships to bypass central institutions. Additionally, blockchain technologies will be harnessed by autonomous technologies, enabling machine-to-machine transactions.

Want to stay updated with our latest content, and research? Sign up for our newsletter. If you work for a large corporation, become a Crowd Companies member.


Corporate Innovation Talent Strategy: Intrapreneurship, Universities, and Acquisitions

By Jeremiah Owyang and Jaimy Szymanski

Corporations are struggling to keep pace with technology trends, but the real innovation challenge lies in their internal culture. In other words? The “tech issue” isn’t an issue! According to our recent survey, the top challenge companies face in corporate innovation is fostering an internal culture of experimentation and innovation (57%).

Truly innovative companies focus on setting a foundation with the right people and empowering them, as well as governance, before large investments take place that lack direction, resources, or goals. These corporations are diversifying their hiring strategies in the face of rapidly disruptive technologies, consumer adoption of related trends, and the advent of new business models that emerge from the two. In order to remain competitive in an environment that embraces rapid startup innovation, corporations must focus both internally (on existing talent) and externally (on acquiring new talent) to build their talent pools.

In our latest Crowd Companies report available on Slideshare, “The Corporate Innovation Imperative: How Large Corporations Avoid Disruption by Strengthening Their Ecosystem,” we uncovered three distinct manners in which the most mature corporations approach hiring innovative employees: Intrapreneurship Programs; Technology Education / University Partnerships; and Startup Acquisitions. In the full report available to Crowd Companies members, you’ll also find case examples from corporations that have found success.

Intrapreneur Program
Internal employees — dubbed “intrapreneurs” — are given a platform and resources to innovate. These programs invest in employees’ ideas and passions to unlock everything from customer experience improvements to product enhancements and full-blown internal startups that are then launched from within the company. Intrapreneurship programs are an effective and cost-efficient way to surface ideas and shape your business without the need to purchase expensive startups or hire external talent or vendors. They enable rank-and-file employees to contribute to a culture of innovation.

Technology Education / University Partnership
Through an educational partnership, corporations can tap into new university graduates, early-stage projects and companies, and the network of an established educational institution. In addition to traditional universities, there are new private versions opening up that are dedicated solely to technology training, like Galvanize and General Assembly. Partnering with educational institutions provides corporations with a first look at breaking technologies and how they’ll impact our culture through an academic lens. These partnerships are an effective way to secure new talent about to enter the marketplace.

Startup Acquisition
Rather than build innovation from the inside, some corporations acquire successful startups and integrate. While expensive, the startup is often already successful, and the acquisition can help the startup scale further. Acquiring startups showcases a corporation’s focus on the future and evolving its products, services, and customer experiences to meet new expectations. Stanford also shared with us that some companies experiencing a hard time hiring software talent have used “acqui-hiring” to bring people into the company. It can be a useful way to acquire talented employees along with new technologies.

Advanced Companies Focus on People Before Programs
Corporations that retool their hiring strategy to meet the evolving talent needs of their innovation programs will reap the rewards of crafting an innovation team (or “center of excellence”) that has the expertise, experience, and drive to incite change. Our survey also uncovered that dedicated innovation teams (79%), innovation centers of excellence (61%), and technology education / university partnerships (54%) are the most commonly deployed corporate innovation programs (see figure below). This shows that companies are first focusing internally on building the right teams, getting governance and processes in place, and educating current and new employees on emerging technologies before spending time and resources on rolling out external programs or investing in the startup scene.


Other best practices from advanced organizations include:

  • Mature corporations understand that an innovation program is only as good as the employees behind it. Follow in the footsteps of corporations like Verizon, which have multiple innovation teams in various business units, each with talented members dedicated to both ideation and execution. This helps them move efficiently to prototype and launch new innovations.
  • Also focus on talent retention, as there’s a commonplace and ever-present threat that your best and brightest will be poached (or, at the very least, approached) by competing corporations or startups. Leaders at mature organizations consistently ask themselves, “Are we doing enough to keep our most innovative employees happy?” The most effective incentives tie employee progress on innovation KPIs directly to pay structure.
  • Finally, we found that the most advanced companies receive a dedicated budget from the CEO to ensure company-wide support of innovation as a long-lasting cultural mandate––even if the company is not performing well financially.

The Key Ingredients for Successful Corporate Innovation

Welcome, this industry newsletter shares key market changes, in a twice-monthly publication, curated by Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Crowd Companies™, you can subscribe to the email newsletter on the footer of the homepage.

Top Takeaways From the ‘Corporate Innovation Imperative’
Well-respected innovation strategy designer Justin Lokitz has filtered some essential insights from Crowd Companies’ report on “The Corporate Innovation Imperative: How Large Corporations Avoid Disruption By Strengthening Their Ecosystem” through his own experiences. To truly innovate, companies must: (1) grapple directly with a culture change that thrives on leveraging new tools, skills, and mindsets; (2) wrangle middle managers into embracing the same vision of innovation as senior leaders before introducing it to employees; (3) chase temporary initiatives until they become “repeatable and scalable business models;” (4) venture beyond innovation as mere PR or marketing by way of a concrete vision and clear goals; and (5) come to grips with the fact that the best approach to innovation is the one that fits best. Read more of Lokitz’s observations on LinkedIn.

Uber Freight Shifts Into Gear
After revving up its new app for long-haul trucking, Uber recently shifted Uber Freight into gear. Now, once truck drivers are properly vetted, they can gain access to an endless stream of potential loads needing to be shipped. Like the ride-sharing app, Uber Freight streamlines the sometimes complex process of finding and booking freight. And it also helps dismantle discriminatory roadblocks for women and people of color. Uber Freight may be one of the first on the road, but it still faces potential competition from Amazon, which is developing a similar service, and other makers of autonomous trucking technology, which aim to disrupt the transportation industry. Read more about the debut of Uber Freight on The Verge.

Cooking Up the Next Silicon Valley
For those who wish that creating the next Silicon Valley was as easy as whipping up an exciting new culinary dish, Crowd Companies Founder Jeremiah Owyang has synthesized a family secret and much experience working with innovative companies into a tried-and-true recipe. He not only articulates the proper selection of choice ingredients like culture, education, investment, density, and quality of life, but also instructs how to optimally mix, cook, season, and serve the irresistible taste of successful innovation. Read the full recipe on his blog, Web Strategist.

We want to hear from you! What are the market impacts of this week’s news stories? Email Crowd Companies™ Founder Jeremiah Owyang directly to share your thoughts.

Image from Pexels used under Creative Commons license.

Future Mobility Offers Freedom in a Connected World

Alongside the BMW Group’s envisioning of the next 100 vehicles, Crowd Companies Founder Jeremiah Owyang helped express the motivation for corporate cultural transformations that shift vehicle manufacturers into mobility service providers in order to fit the mold of the future that young people expect rather than engineer tomorrow based on yesterday. That future ought to blend technology and emotion into what BMW has codified as its ACES: vehicles that are autonomous, connected, electrified, and shareable.

Take, for example, the MINI, a shared, self-expressive “Facebook on wheels.” The current challenge is meeting such a vision with the standards expected by today’s young corporate citizens. But with radical, creative innovation from passionate workforces, success here would steer mobility toward becoming a service that creates freedom — with no driver’s licenses — and moves us to the connected world we want.

Learn more from the event on the following video:

BMW: In Dialog with the Future

How to share with just friends.

Posted by Facebook on Friday, December 5, 2014

Crowd Companies European Summit, Amsterdam: Brands Collaborate on Challenges and Opportunities

by Carl Bohlin, Sr. Member Sucess Manager

Council Members gathered in Amsterdam for 1.5 days to discuss innovation at our first European Summit of 2017. The group started the experience with excursions to ShareNL and Startupbootcamp prior to our Member Dinner.  

Amsterdam is at the forefront of the sharing economy and environmentalism efforts.  Our excursion started at ShareNL where they discussed assisting through education, and start-up guidance.  Members also participated in an interactive discussion with start-ups to understand more the opportunities brands could have with them.  Council members challenged startups to combine and collaborate across sharing platforms to enhance the user experience and value.  We also discussed how consumer adoption of the sharing lifestyle and respective platforms was more of a priority to startups than regulations.  

Startupbootcamp provides guidance, structure and a formalized process for innovation.  Bootcamps are designed for start-up’s and corporate training programs.  Start-ups engaged in the program provide equity to Startupbootcamp but they are also provided a stipend for living expenses for the three month program to ensure they can focus on completion.  Survival rates are ~80% for the start-ups who have completed the program.  Regardless of the attendee origin, Startupbootcamp strives to push attendees for the “why” and to maintain a customer centric view at all times.  For the corporate program they include a mandatory 1 day session for C level executives to ensure greater success when employees finish the program and are integrated back into corporate.

Philips hosted Crowd Companies members for the full day of interactive sessions.  The sessions included two thought leaders, Rik Vera, CEO of Nexxworks and Patrick van der Pijl, CEO Business Models Inc.  We also had deep dive presentations from fellow members at Philips, Achmea, Swisscom, and Leroy Merlin which showcased their Innovation efforts, and allowed discussions for best practice.  

Through the day common elements or trends emerged from the leaders across all presentations/discussions including: Customer Centricity, Data, Strategy & Communication and Culture.

Customer Centricity
This may seem obvious but know who the actual customer is and the “why”.  Get outside and observe, ask and learn – it’s really fun too!  Ensure the product, innovation or corporate strategy aligns to the end customer.   Gain insights by connecting the dots of your internal and external parties, possibly creating something new.  One example of really knowing the end customer provided a potential 60M in savings.  We also discussed the customer voice/actions being one of the best sales tools.

Data and management continues to be a significant trend.  For monitoring, the right or agreed metrics being the critical component.  One member shared their digital footprint for social monitoring  and how they could communicate information back to product owners in near real time.  Autonomous, Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots and other technologies will only increase data to be reviewed – choose metrics wisely and be sure agreement exists on measurements.

Strategy & Communication
Nimble strategy cannot be overlooked.  Innovation leaders discussed how some are gaining traction within the board level to increase awareness and improve communication.  Some have annual meetings to revive mission and vision to see where they are .  With customer and technology advancements strategy has to be fluid and changing – one presenter shared time spent may be 70% today, 20% tomorrow and 10% longer term.  Metrics also need to be highly communicated and agreed in advance so that Innovation is not bound to KPI’s meant for traditional business functions.  Failure should also be open and okay to learn fast, adapt and change – doing something and learning is better than nothing.  


We all know the important role culture plays within any organization.  We have observed in our research the frozen middle layer and executive acceptance of Innovation.  Members at this meeting shared insights to how they are dealing with change – forcing C level participation at bootcamps, open communication on metrics, involving HR through all levels of the organization to require change and unlearn old methods, pushing back on ROI or unknown goals during initiatives.  Open the doors to outside your industry (Value of the Council).  Trust  – in the team innovating to do the right thing.  One member shared 8B in new revenue was from products not in the market 8 yrs ago. Visual representation was also discussed as a tool to assist with a new project or initiative and gather support.

It’s great to see and hear the member challenges and opportunities.  To me, it’s especially gratifying when I hear afterwards how members return to their organizations with concrete steps to improving innovation learned from our meetings.  Such a fantastic group!

How Advanced Corporations Innovate: Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS

In our research on corporate innovation, we found the most advanced companies allow competitors to innovate in their own buildings.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS enables outside innovation inside the company. As a result, they’re improving the entire industry, including efforts of competitors, in order to positively impact society as a whole.

Above: Crowd Companies’ Carl Bohlin addresses the council on our tour to JLABs in SF.

At its nine sites within North America, JLABS gives startups the tools they need to level the playing field against large, corporate R&D teams. Half of each JLABS space is a common area with state-of-the-art equipment for use, while the other half is comprised of individual labs that help companies get started. JLABS is all new space, not old storage or “leftover” labs, and the facilities are separate and distinct from Johnson & Johnson corporate with no Janssen scientists working there.


The Crowd Companies team was privileged to tour one of the JLABS sites earlier this year, bearing witness to how Johnson & Johnson Innovation is breaking the mold in a big way. During our tour, dinner, and discussion at JLABS in South San Francisco , we found that the culture as a whole is diametrically opposite normal business behavior by inviting anyone into their space in order to innovate and advance specific medicines, medical devices and consumer & digital health solutions.

The concept of JLABS sprouted from a need when JLABS leader Melinda Richter suffered a near fatal medical emergency while traveling internationally, see her TED talk. She made a promise that, if she survived, she would do something to enhance medical efficiency and bring solutions to patients faster and better. From there, JLABS was born and sold to executives. It is now thriving under Richter’s leadership.

JLABS provides their space and tools onsite with no vested interest. Startups and innovators onsite have complete privacy to work without any sharing of IP. Security cameras are not even allowed to be directed where work is being conducted, and participants are encouraged to clean whiteboards after using. If it is presented with an idea of potential, Johnson & Johnson Innovation often pursues deeper partnerships that allow it to shape the ultimate innovation or product at a later date.

JLABS measures its success based on internal financial metrics, quality of innovators coming in, quality of science and technology being developed, development milestones reached, the number of people using its space, and education programs run.

Crowd Companies identifies the JLABS approach to innovation as an advanced program, as it not only benefits the company but also the entire industry. “Common tides raise all boats” in innovation, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation understands that their scientists will only be pushed further toward greatness if up against the best minds, with adequate resources, in the industry.

Corporate Innovation Programs Come in Ten Flavors

Our recent research on Corporate Innovation Programs (download the high level version) found that companies are attempting to act more nimble and agile by deploying a combination of these innovation programs. Frequency varies, and budgets are skewed around Startup Acquisition, being the bulk of the investment. Corporations are taking pages from startups, to emulate the culture of a fast-moving smaller company.

This list is structured in a logical way: The items listed on the top are happening inside of the company, while the items towards the bottom happen outside of the company. This is not a list that you should automatically approach as a checklist as the order of deployment will vary. For example, some companies have corporate development teams only, that solely exist to acquire startups –rarely to derive innovation from internal teams.

  1. Dedicated Innovation Team
    Corporations often start by staffing an innovation team within the company, which is comprised
    of both full- and part-time employees dedicated to developing strategy, managing, and activating innovation programs. These leaders are experts at internal communications and are proven change agents. Centralized teams deploy on behalf of the business units, and often act as a governing body when deployed on a global/cross-functional scale to manage multiple innovation team strategies.
  2. Innovation Center of Excellence
    Innovation Centers of Excellence (CoE) enable innovation across multiple departments within the
    company, and members serving on the CoE are also responsible for senior leadership within various corporate groups. Common departments included in the CoE are marketing/digital, PR, legal, HR, IT, and product. The goal of the CoE is to standardize and scale innovation across the company, providing guidance to efforts that do not yet have dedicated teams or leadership.
  3. Intrapreneur Program
    Rather than rely solely on external programs, internal employees — dubbed “intrapreneurs” — are
    given a platform and resources to innovate. These programs invest in employees’ ideas and passions to unlock everything from customer experience improvements to product enhancements and full-blown internal startups that are then launched from within the company.
  4. Open Innovation (Hackathon or Internal Incubator)
    Hosted inside a corporate office, large corporations invite startups to embed at their physical locations
    and “incubate” them with funding, corporate support, and other perks. This can also take the form of overnight hackathons, demo days, and online open-innovation programs/contests that request — and often reward — ideas from the crowd.
  5. Innovation Excursions
    Frequently, inspiration comes from outside, not within. Corporate leaders tour innovative
    organizations, companies, and regions (in Silicon Valley and other relevant tech hubs) to discover trends in various industries, learn from speakers, meet partners, and be inspired as they immerse themselves in innovation culture.
  6. Innovation Outpost
    An innovation outpost is a dedicated physical office, in Silicon Valley or wherever innovation
    happens in a corporation’s key market(s), staffed with professionals whose job is to sense current trends and disruptive technologies, connect with local startups, and integrate programs back into corporate headquarters. Some innovation outposts are host to partners, events, and startups, thereby overlapping into internal accelerator territory. An innovation outpost is typically managed by employees, unlike an external accelerator, which is run by a third party.
  7. Technology Education / University Partnership
    Through an educational partnership, corporations can tap into new university graduates, early-stage
    projects and companies, and the network of an established educational institution. In addition to traditional universities, there are new private versions opening up that are dedicated solely to technology training, like Galvanize and General Assembly.
  8. Accelerator Partnership
    Corporations partner with third-party accelerators to provide sponsorship and/or funding in
    exchange for relationships with startups and integration opportunities. Corporate innovation professionals often embed themselves in accelerator offices, fostering relationships with local startups. These external accelerators are run entirely by vendors (investors, advisors, etc.), unlike innovation outposts, which are managed by employees.
  9. Startup Investment
    Corporations place bets among the startup ecosystem, with both small investments for early-stage
    startups and larger amounts of corporate funding that yield market data, create opportunities for follow-on investments, and block competitors. Intel Capital is a recognized leader in corporate investing, raising $1.28 billion in funds and making 1,094 investments in 769 tech companies to date.
  10. Startup Acquisition
    Rather than build innovation from the inside, corporations acquire successful startups and integrate. While expensive, the startup is often already successful, and the acquisition can help the startup
    scale further. According to recent studies cited by Global Corporate Venturing, only 5% of corporate venture capital (CVC)-financed startups are acquired by the backing parent corporations.3 A new study from MassChallenge also reveals that 23% of corporations see working with startups as “mission critical,” and 67% say they want to work with earlier-stage startups.

Which program is best for every company? We didn’t find a silver bullet for all, as it varies on the innovation goals and culture. For example, some cultures are open to employee feedback, and thus an intranpreneurship program makes more sense. However, in some cases, working with outside companies is easiest, so partnering through accelerators or investing in startups is more sensible. Want to know more? Download the  report.

Corporate Innovation Programs Focus on Teams and Empowering Internal Innovation

Though there are many ways to approach innovation, the majority of companies focus on building innovation teams or “Innovation centers of excellence,” as well as fostering internal education, before moving toward external deployments.

In Crowd Companies’ recent report, The Corporate Innovation Imperative (download here), we identify 10 types of innovation programs corporations pursue when looking to evolve their business models, customer experiences, operations, or products and services. More on the 10 programs can be found here. We discovered that corporations often excel in one program initially, then add programs to their innovation portfolio as they mature and are able to justify related expenditures.

And, where do they begin? With their own teams. Through our survey, we found that dedicated innovation teams (79%), innovation “centers of excellence” (61%), and technology education / university partnerships (54%) are the most commonly deployed corporate innovation programs (see figure below). This shows that companies are first focusing internally on building the right teams, getting governance and processes in place, and educating current and new employees on emerging technologies before spending time and resources on rolling out external programs or investing in the startup scene.

Frequency of Corporate Innovation Programs

One way corporations are focusing on building strong teams is by involving cross-departmental constituents in their efforts. This smooths the path to internal acceptance and adoption as advocates are in every corner of the organization.

Much of the success of innovation teams depends on internal alignment among tangential departments, like legal and marketing, to move from ideation through implementation. Verizon recommends bringing new ideas and developments to lawyers early, who can help obtain and protect intellectual property rights in a fast-changing global legal landscape. Innovation teams should also have their own marketing and PR resources, as Mastercard Labs does, to socialize ideas internally and externally, when appropriate, pick up sponsorship, build momentum, and identify pilot customers. Mastercard Labs also produces its own 60-second “pitch” videos for each idea that makes it to prototype, as an easy way to promote viral sharing within the company.

How is your company approaching corporate innovation? Are you looking to build teams and foster education before looking outward to bolster innovation?

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