When corporate innovation teams seek to launch internal accelerators, they often find it's challenging to replicate the culture of innovation that's found in entrepreneurial hubs like Silicon Valley. The limiting factor is rarely budget, as many enterprise leaders already have strong R&D programs in place and recognize the value of future-proofing their businesses through innovation. What does hold them back, however, are challenges around day-to-day operations and creating a value proposition that attracts the right long-term startup partners.
As a result, some corporates find that it doesn't make sense for them to build internal accelerators, but that doesn't mean they need to give up on corporate innovation altogether.
The beauty of corporate innovation is that every company's expertise, methods, and processes are different. What works for Cisco, a company with deep roots in Silicon Valley, may not work for Lufthansa, a global leader in a completely different industry and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Meanwhile, all enterprise companies want to minimize their risk for new, experimental initiatives.
One alternative is to pursue an open innovation model, in collaboration with enterprise leaders with similar business interests. For instance, Lufthansa Cargo, Kaleido Logistics, and Ingram Micro are part of RocketSpace's Industry Accelerator Program and launched a Logistics Tech Accelerator, which draws from the diverse expertise of multiple corporate members, startups and industry mentors.
Determine Whether Open Innovation Is Right for You
Before you jump into the fray, take these two steps to determine if open innovation is the best path forward.
Step 1: Do due diligence on your long-term vs. short-term KPIs
It may sound basic, but many corporate accelerators fail for the simple reason that executives aren't sure what they're after. Knowing that innovation is "important," management teams go through the motions of establishing formal programs, on-boarding partners, and even making acquisitions. Without a connection to a long-term goal, however, these decisions have the potential to be risky. And when initiatives fail, innovation practice leaders may jump the gun and terminate efforts prematurely, before they have a chance to course-correct and begin delivering results to core business units. Because companies are under pressure to deliver short-term value to shareholders, innovation leaders need more than a compelling story to tell—they need to justify the long-term ROI of their efforts. The first step is to be able to tie efforts back to long-term business objectives that are clear and measurable.
Step 2: Identify Whether You Can Attract the Right Partners to Get to Market Faster
When you're running R&D or innovation efforts at a corporation, you are likely coming across startups—all day, every day—that are vying for your attention. But you can't take this outreach for granted; even though a number of startups might be reaching out to you, the organizations pitching you may not be the right fit as partners. When evaluating a potential startup partnership, you need clear, objective criteria to evaluate fit. Not to mention, you need the right value propositions in place to attract the right partners. If you're looking for the best of the best, you'll want to provide a sense of mentorship and community, with opportunities to help that startups grow. The right startup partners will speed up your time to market and fast-track your ability to pursue challenging, yet rewarding, opportunities in the market.
Looking for Guidance?
If you're looking for tips to build your corporate accelerator, get in touch with our corporate innovation services team. At RocketSpace, we love to share the lessons that we learn in the trenches (sometimes, the hard way), so you don't have to.
Want to work with startups but don't know where to start? We can help. Learn more about our Corporate Innovation Services.
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