What innovation method is right for you?
You want to innovate, but the innovation landscape is full jargon and far from straightforward. It’s hard to know where to start, what to pick or which way to go for what you need. We get it.
To help through that journey, we've laid out the innovation methods, identifying which ones are best for which company structure and goals.
Some methods require more time or resources, others depend on buy-in from multiple departments, or won’t work without some prior experience and expertise. You can see at a glance which methods make sense for companies on a budget, those with a small team, and those whose main concern is impact. Note that your own experience will be unique, so while this is based on industry knowledge and experience, it’s still only guidance.
Hackathons are a good way to associate your brand with innovation and make a small attempt at solving a problem. Hackathons are a great source of ideas but are unlikely to transform your business.
Hackathons are strongly focused on ideation and limited proof of concept: someone has an idea, and they can kind of make it work. But everything beyond that, including validation, testing, development, and deployment, all has to be done outside the hackathon itself, meaning that if your hackathon produced something amazing, your problems are still far from over.
Much like the name suggests Innovation incubators are a space for founders to build their businesses. They are easy to set up, all you need is a space and someone to manage the project. But there is no guarantee of return on investment. While they’re a good way to be around start-ups without knowing how to work with them, they can also consume resources without producing anything. Because this is a hands off model, tangible impact for the corporate is limited by the lack of alignment between the opportunity or pain point the corporate is trying to capitalise on and the solution the start-up is building.
Accelerators are a step up from incubators for those more seasoned in innovation.
There is generally an expectation of a curriculum and support for founders making the process overall more hands on.
Reasons that they’re usually more serious is the time commitment and an exchange of equity between the accelerator and the founders, but despite the increase in commitment there isn’t necessarily an outcome. You can read our accelerator case with GE Healthcare here.
The Intrapreneurship model is sponsoring someone internally to build a new business inside yours. The advantages are obvious: you know your problem, can pick your team, lay out your criteria for success, assign budget and resources knowing that you have ownership over the whole process. But the big risk is that most companies don’t know how to build a company internally. If you’re a company without a strong history of internal innovation, this can be a very expensive mistake.
It sounds great right? Building a new business in the existing business (without all that risk) but what often happens is that intrapreneurs end up doing their real job whilst building a business part-time and the business fails. But when it does work it’s a great way to keep the workforce engaged/excited. It’s also a good way to build an innovation culture and a solutions oriented team.
You generate ideas that are more aligned with the business/that come from genuine business pain points unlike a hackathon.
Venture-building resembles Intrapreneurship, but instead of building a ‘start-up’ off of your staff’s ideas, you pick a very specific business problem and bring in an external team to build the company, usually as a separate business unit.
Typically, this will be oriented so as to directly address your business problem. The results can be impressive, and you retain significant control — but at the price of significant commitment and investment.
Businesses that have:
CVC lets your company act as a venture capitalist to a start-up. CVC is where you are actively investing in start-ups either for financial returns or strategic fit with the business.
Unlike other innovation methods CVC is less focused on tackling internal problems and more focused on future trends and technologies and identifying new opportunities.
CVC requires knowledge of the venture landscape, a team that is able to find companies and deploy capital and manage those relationships.
Businesses that have:
Where CVC is focused on investing in start-ups, venture client is focused on building a commercial relationship. Different to intrapreneurship Rather than building a product internally you are using an existing product. That's what makes venture client cost efficient, time efficient and risk efficient.
Venture client is a very focused approach, whereas an accelerator has a broad net and is about scaling start-ups. Venture client is deeply scouting companies to solve very specific problems for the client.
Companies that have:
If you want to look more into innovation and would like some advice you can contact us here.