Business introduces new solutions and technologies from scratch.
The bright trend of last year is the increase in corporate activity in the venture capital market. The number of corporate venture transactions has more than doubled — from 23 in 2017 to 47 in 2018.
The number of the corporate acceleration programs is also increasing: About 20 programs were launched in 2018, such market players as VTB, MTS, Sberbank and Unilever declared of searching for innovative solutions. The task for the future years is to master working with innovations on a systematic basis.
First you need to assess the readiness of the business to change. It is necessary to understand whether the company has an innovation development strategy and how consistently it is being implemented, whether additional resources are allocated for this activity, etc. Does the personnel policy stimulate entrepreneurial activity, does the company have the infrastructure for testing new technologies, and how far is the enterprise open to ideas from the outside?
At the next stage, it is necessary to assemble a team of like-minded people. An audit, for example, having arranged the interviews with managers of key areas will have helped find out which technological solutions, in their opinion, could improve the direction for which they were responsible. The most motivated persons can immediately be invited to your team.
Quite often, especially in large companies, the Director of innovation decides to act by “order from above”. But this approach does not prove itself. It is much more productive to assemble a team among those who are really burning with the idea of changing something. When in 2018 the VTB Group decided to open its accelerator, the employees of the digital transformation department of the bank took a lot of time to find interested departments that would like to run pilots with startups to develop their products and services. It took several months, but the team for working with startups in the bank was able to increase many times — from 4-5 to 50 people.
It is important that the team has at least one person with experience in technological project management. Without the skills of technological entrepreneurship and wide connections in business circles there is nothing to do in this area. It is not easy to find a manager with similar competences within a corporation. Therefore, some companies "hunt" specialists from the open market — for example, in accelerators and startups.
The number of corporate venture transactions has more than doubled — from 23 in 2017 to 47 in 2018.
It is equally important that the innovation department team and the rest of the company's employees speak the same language. Otherwise there is a risk of getting into a typical situation: the division puts forward some kind of idea, and the “front-line soldiers” do not understand why it is necessary. In practice, it means that the innovation department should not stand apart from other parts of the company. Often it is necessary to remind employees of a common goal and pursue a consistent policy that encourages the introduction of technology.
On average, the budget allocated to operate with innovations ranges from 5 to 30 million rubles. The final cost depends on the tasks that the company sets itself, and the amount of work needed to solve them. The team explores the market and makes proposals for business development, while each part has its own role. One team member builds a strategy, interacts with partners, another one assesses startups, the third accompanies pilot projects. The innovation department also monitors other organizations, including international ones, visits accelerators and events.
It may seem that the most startups are represented on the Internet and there is nothing difficult in finding them, however this is not quite so. There are many authors of innovative solutions who have not formed yet their idea into a product. Various are developing perspective ideas in the “garage” — within the walls of a research institution or university. In order to gain access to them, the company will need to invest time to establish contact with their administrations and laboratory personnel.
After a good project has been found, it must be given to an assessment by the personnel of the relevant department and, if it is successful, the pilot can be run. At this stage, a business case is formed, that is, a measurable and applied task is set for a startup. If you work in IT company, then you can conduct a pilot both inside and on the infrastructure of your technology partners. It is more difficult with manufacturing companies, as it is necessary to allocate our own capacities for testing.
Corporate acceleration is one of the most advanced methods of working with young technology companies, but other tools are also needed.
Is it worth creating an accelerator? There are two kinds of them: internal, when the company independently rebuilds the mechanisms for searching, evaluating and implementing of found projects, and external, when professional players are involved in solving this problem. Such services are in demand in the West European markets. The large companies from all over the world refer to the international accelerators, such as Plug and Play, Singularity University, Rocketspace, Runway, 500 Startups, Betaworks. In Russia, such work is organized by GenerationS and RVC, for example. Thanks to the acceleration program, startups can even be considered as ones on early stages and grow them "by themselves", for specific tasks. In addition, accelerator graduates develop very fast, already in the perspective of 3 to 6 months, we can understand which idea will “shoot” and which one should be abandoned.
Corporate acceleration is one of the most advanced methods of working with young technology companies, but it is not a panacea. To work with innovations in any large company, it is necessary to arrange an ecosystem of innovations in which different tools will be available. Venture funds will be needed to solve the investment issues. In order to “comb” the startup and test it, an accelerator will be needed, and to prepare the product for absorption other tools will be useful. Innovation should be a part of the corporate policy and strategic planning.
Author: Ekaterina Petrova(the Director of the corporate accelerator by RVC)