by John Bacon
I’m a lucky guy! I have worked for very large high-tech manufacturing companies, led software company public offerings both in the U.S and in Europe, and co-founded my own company. Plus, I am faculty for the National Science Foundation’s I-Corp program.
Some of you may know I-Corps as the result of an audacious initiative between your federal government and Steve Blank, serial-entrepreneur turned academic, and the thinker who launched the Lean Startup movement. Continue reading “Why Businesses Struggle with Lean Startup Methodologies” »
by Bill Weber
For people deeply versed in the way innovation actually works (or doesn’t work) in a big company, the value iP2Biz brings to the table is immediately apparent. But most executives are not innovation specialists, and our first meeting with a potential client often involves this question: “We have some really cool technology, can you help us sell it?” Continue reading “iP2Biz or IP Broker” »
In today’s business environment, there is tremendous pressure on corporations to continuously innovate with greater efficiency in order to stand out from the pack. Henry Chesbrough in Open Innovation describes a growing trend: small firms seeking to augment in-house R&D by integrating external technology into a corporation.
This is not without operational risk. While external technology partnerships can accelerate innovation, they create new dependencies and management issues. The firm and external partner must collaborate and jointly manage and control in the Front End of the development process. This is the only way a technology will successfully be incorporated into a new product offering.
In traditional Open Innovation processes, there is focus on tightly defined sourcing of technology, to enable a predefined solution. This tight focus rules out the potential for iterating into a more creative breakthrough solution. In fact there are four stages to successful effort with an external technology partner that maximizes innovation: Continue reading “How to Work with an External Technology Partner” »
A valuable landscape analysis provides sufficient actionable intelligence that enables the product development team to exploit areas of high potential for breakthrough innovation. Through examination of current customer processes, deployed technologies, and gaps or deficient areas in the landscape, a technology market analysis can be developed.
A complete assessment of the current landscape must be done to illuminate the potential success of any change. To understand the potential of creating new value propositions (either by enhancing current positions or by creating disruptive innovation that rearranges the entire ecosystem value pool), the analysis must detail: Continue reading “Effective Technology Market Analysis” »
iP2Biz is featured in the May-June issue of innovation journal Research Technology Management.
“The Role of the Innovation Capitalist in Open Innovation” explores strategies businesses can employ to maximize success when working with innovation intermediaries like iP2Biz.
Innovation – the valuable disruptive kind that changes the future and creates fortunes – is borne of chaos. It can’t be a tidy, orderly process. Some wandering and confusion are vital; ideas and technologies the “experts” would dismiss at a stroke must be stumbled through (sometimes genius is discovered in that space between stumbling and falling flat on our faces). Attempts to suppress the mess will destroy the initiative. Every time.
Christensen teaches us with clarity and certainty that companies can’t get beyond everyday sustaining innovation precisely because they are organized to suppress chaos. So no matter how noble the calling, how enticing the Big Idea, how plush the office from which the “mandate” originated, the effort to identify, explore, validate and grow the craziness of Disruptive Innovation is always dragged down by the hounds of corporate order and control.
And this is true even when Chesbrough’s internal OI disciples are tasked to make and contain the messes. Those departments still have to convince those on the other side of the fence to eventually join in the glorious mess of Disruptive Innovation. The problem is caused by the belief that the process has to be tidied up before the learning can be shown to future stakeholders not involved in the mess-making. Learning is stifled, buy-in retarded, potential co-conspirators turned away. Ideas die.
So what to do?
Simply export the chaos.
There is no shortage of potentially good seed corn for game-changing initiatives inside most companies. Most people are wired to have ideas which could, just maybe, change the outcome of the game. But no matter how influential that person is, they won’t get their ideas through the necessary chaos to a state of order which allows them to enter the corporate commercialization structure. And even if they try, they first have to fight battles of “my idea is better than your idea”.
Today it’s smart to just stick to business and partner with companies like IP2Biz. We get up every day excited by the coming chaos which has been put on our plates by our clients. We love to get bloodied by the messy process of finding a path to that epiphany when the fog lifts, the din of the battle subsides, and clarity emerges from the gazillion bits of information created during the work. We know how to take a portfolio of early ideas, assess likely priorities, unearth the technologies no one else could see, confirm their validity and demonstrate that they will – one day soon – make good commercial sense for our clients.
In the seven years we’ve been at this business of launching potentially great but risky ideas, we’ve gotten pretty good at wading into the constructive chaos of Disruptive Innovation, identifying the valuable bits, cleaning them up and delivering them to our clients in a way that stakeholders inside recognize as relatively safe and actionable. Precisely because we are external partners working closely with internal stakeholders, we can bring speed, objectivity, thoroughness and confirmation to their side of a chaotic process. We celebrate the chaos, not suppress it.
Clients tell us that exporting the chaos allows them to engage around ideas and possibilities which were impossibilities before. The valuable mess and risk taking is still there, it just happens in our shop, so it doesn’t get quashed. Permanent, profitable change emerges.
Last June, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a new initiative called Innovation Corps (I-Corps) to help develop emerging technologies into practical new products. This public-private partnership operates with the goal of connecting scientific research funded by the NSF with professionals who have the expertise in business and technology that is needed to “enable the advancement of science innovations to the market,” says Lesa Mitchell of the Kauffman Foundation for promoting entrepreneurship, one of I-Corps’ founding institutions. The Deshpande Foundation serves as another founding member organization.
“The United States has a long history of investing in–and deploying–technological advances derived from a foundation of basic research,” says NSF Director Subra Suresh. “And the NSF mission connects advancing the nation’s prosperity and welfare with our passionate pursuit of scientific knowledge. I-Corps will help strengthen a national innovation ecosystem that firmly unites industry with scientific discoveries for the benefit of society.”
Experts in the private sector participate in by advising I-Corps awardees and serving as mentor volunteers. The program has begun with 100 innovation projects, each one with a budget of $50,000. Over a six-month period, each team, composed of a principal investigator, a mentor, and an entrepreneurial lead, systematically identifies and addresses the steps needed to turn cutting-edge science into innovative technology within a viable startup company. “While the main goal of I-Corps is to build on NSF’s investment in fundamental research,” says I-Corps program director Errol Arkilic, “the program also seeks to offer academic researchers and students an opportunity to learn firsthand about technological innovation and entrepreneurship to fulfill the promise of their discoveries.”
It’s not hard to see that I-Corp and IP2Biz have a lot in common. Although I-Corp sprang from the public sector and IP2Biz was founded as a private company, both serve as a bridge between research in the lab and technology in the market. Our next post will focus on some of these similarities and introduce the I-Corps curriculum.
We are excited to announce that IP2Biz is featured in the May-June issue of innovation journal Research Technology Management. “The Role of the Innovation Capitalist in Open Innovation” explores strategies businesses can employ to maximize success when working with innovation intermediaries like IP2Biz. Feel free to share this post, and let us know what you think in the comments section.