Sunday, October 9, 2016

Winning the Global Innovation Game

FEI Europe 2016 presentation by James Millar, Director of Partnerships, MassChallenge

MassChallenge is a startup accelerator programme originating from Boston, MA in the US (masschallenge.org) and claim to be 'the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet'. This not-for-profit has their focus on impact over equity and is generating some impressive statistics: over 50k jobs created, over £ 1bn funding secured, and 83% of their accelerator clients are still active.

James is based in their London office (they have 5 locations globally) and he shared with us 8 insights for large corporates they find are important in working with startups and winning the global innovation game.

  • 1 Understanding what is innovation
In working with both startups and corporates the MassChallenge team find it's important to clarify what is understood by innovation for the firm they are talking with, and their appetite for the different forms of innovation (incremental, disruptive) & the possible outcomes.
  • 2 Setting the right objectives
It is important the objectives are focused and very achievable in the early stages, to build confidence.
  • 3 Building the winning team
For corporates growing startups in-house, cycling for 6 months teams of three from elsewhere in the organisation in and out of the innovation team can provide exposure to the innovation team's activities, and build champions of innovation across the organisation.
  • 4 Winning hearts and minds
A third of corporate startups fail because of a lack of internal support. Find, build, and nurture the champions.
  • 5 Building great structures and tearing down the bad ones
Many traditional corporate policies are detrimental to startups, such as 90 day payment terms and RFP timeframes. Become startup-friendly and find ways to support your startup's on their growth journey, and you will be sought out as a partner.
  • 6 Treating risk and failure as friends
In both startups and corporates, don't be wedded to the outcome - allow for failure to pivot you in a different direction.
  • 7 Burn the boats
Don't have innovation as some part-time task on someone's day job; the day job will always win out.
  • 8 Don't build an accelerator
There are smarter and cheaper ways to connect with the startup scene than building your own infrastructure. The nature of corporate and startup interaction is changing very quickly and it's very much about interaction and collaboration.

One question during the Q&A time was how do smaller corporates work with startups. As smaller corporates have less resources to allocate in this direction, it was stressed that strategic fit is very important, and they should look to start with pilot projects and smaller commercial contracts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr Claire McGowan is CEO for SODA Inc. (SODAinc.com), a Founder-focused incubator and Wintec company based in Hamilton, New Zealand. Claire has trained as a life scientist, worked in venture capital and investment banking, and built and sold several businesses, including IPMarket.com. @clairemcgowan @Soda_inc @IPMarket

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