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15 Examples of Open Innovation between Big Companies and Startups

by Stefan Lindegaard
August 12, 20148/12/14 11 Comments

Open innovation is a strategic game for big companies and one of the most important moves to consider for their innovation leaders is the allocation of focus and resources in the context of open innovation.

Here we need to consider that big companies like GE, Cisco or Microsoft tend to have 8-12 different value pools (think suppliers, startups, customers or universities) to consider for their open innovation efforts.

The challenge is that even companies that are good at open innovation only seems to be able to handle 3-4 value pools properly at the same time.

I have no doubt that the value pool of start-ups and entrepreneurs is highly relevant value pool for most big companies and there are lots of initiatives that underscore my reflections.

Just check out this list of corporate (open) innovation initiatives aimed towards startups. Let me know if you can add others!

GE: This is one of my favourite companies. A few years back, GE ran a string of Ecoimagination challenges aimed at start-ups, they have lots of initiatives focused on the startup heavy Maker community and now they have also launched a new, interesting initiative called FirstBuild.

On the latter, you should check this article: GE launches ‘microfactory’ to co-create the future of manufacturing

Cisco: The Entrepreneurs in Residence program allows Cisco to invite early-stage entrepreneurs with big ideas for enterprise solutions to join their startup incubation program. This includes access funding from Cisco, potential opportunities to collaborate with their product & engineering teams, co-working space in Silicon Valley and much more.

You can also check out this blog post: Open innovation: Harnessing the ideas, talent and passion of the startup eco-system

Samsung: Check out the Samsung Accelerator, which provides entrepreneurs with access to Samsung decision-makers, information, and distribution channels.

This interview with the VP of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center, Mark Sherdorff, is worth a read: Dancing Giants: Samsung’s Open Innovation Center

You can also visit the Open Innovation page for the Samsung Semiconductor division to get an idea of the differences in approaches within Samsung business units.

Telefonica: Wayra by Telefonica has been around for three years, and today, it is present in 11 countries across Latin America and Europe. It seems to be very well organised and it is very active with more than 300 startups engaged so far.

Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola wants to tap into entrepreneurs and their initiative is called the Coca-Cola Accelerator program. It is not so easy to find information on their efforts, but I have met some people at Coca-Cola working on this and it could become quite interesting.

Citrix: This accelerator is a seed-stage program with continuous enrolment that includes funding, a deep advisory panel, office space in Silicon Valley, close collaboration, and a focus on enterprise market validation.

Microsoft: Microsoft has brought most of their innovation initiatives towards entrepreneurs together under the Microsoft Ventures organisation. This includes BizSpark, which I mention here although it not as focused on startups as other initiatives as it is based on offering free software and support.

However, Microsoft also did some interesting things with their Accelerator for Kinect program a few years ago and we might see more like this in the near future.

Shell: Budding entrepreneurs within the energy industry (and even beyond) can get in touch with the GameChanger program at Shell. Here a team of 12 dedicated technical and scientific experts has the benefits of support from Shell while also being allowed the freedom to make their own decisions.

Turner/Warner Bros: Media Camp is a comprehensive three months accelerator program that educates entrepreneurs and enables them to build innovative media businesses.

Google: The Google for Entrepreneurs program includes a global community called Startup Grind.

DSM: Corporate venturing and open innovation seems to be linked closer and closer together and this is the case at DSM Venturing, where investing in emerging companies is considered as a key part of their overall outside-in open innovation activities.

Orange: The Orange Fab is a start-up accelerator aimed at helping start-ups by giving access to Orange assets.

You can also find lots of corporate innovation outposts in Silicon Valley, which have a strong element of interaction with startups. Some examples:

• Target Technology Innovation Center – San Francisco

• Walmart Labs

• Ford Silicon Valley Lab

Let me know if you can add other noteworthy initiatives in which large companies engage specifically with startups. Input is much appreciated!

Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. Hi Stefan,

    Mondelez has the Mobile Futures program to partner with startups to develop mobile applications. Program has run in US, Brazil and Australia https://www.mobilefutures.com http://ir.mondelezinternational.com/releasedetailhttp://ir.mondelezinternational.com/releasedetail

  2. PatrickV says:

    And this one? Alcatel-Lucent's ngConnect program: http://ngconnect.org/the-program/ (though this seems more the organization of an ecosystem than direct (funding) support to start-up's

  3. Gebildete says:

    Thank you for this post. I will tell to the people who are in charge of the konstruktor to cooperate with these companies.

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