Startup companies have flooded the market with work processes that happen faster, better utilize technology and place ideas in consumers’ hands more frequently during the innovation cycle. The line between corporates and startup is starting to blend as corporations desire to be more agile and transparent like their entrepreneurial counterparts.
Corporations have employed a multitude of tactics to get closer to the startup community, including partnering with startups or taking part in initial rounds of investment. But some companies have gone even further beyond the learning phase and have put their knowledge into action, employing groundbreaking innovation at the corporate level.
Below is a list of corporations that have truly embraced risk-taking, thinking differently and learning from failure in an attempt to work more like their startup counterparts:
1.Chick-fil-a has created Hatch, a 80,000-square-foot facility devoted to innovation. It includes a mock kitchen, a collaboration area, devoted learning spaces and even a virtual simulator–a great way to prototype new technologies and even restaurant spaces without too much financial risk.
Chick-Fil-A’s step into innovation stresses the importance of place. If there is a dedicated place for innovation work to take place, the work is more likely to happen.
2. Sony hopes to borrow a page out of the playbook from some of the successful companies that got their start on Kickstarter. Sony has launched First Flight, an internal crowdfunding platform that enables consumers to back concepts of niche products before they are available in the market.
First Flight gives Sony a platform for risk-taking without investing in the production of a product that might flop. The platform is currently only available in Japan, but should eventually be available in the USA.
3. IBM has developed iFundIT, an internal crowdfunding platform that goes a step beyond Sony’s First Flight. IBM gives employees $2,000 of actual company money to invest in one of the ideas on the platform. A total of 1,000 employees in 30 countries have participated in two rounds of IBM crowdfunding, and the program has received about $300,000 in seed money from the company. Most of what has been developed have been small internal apps to increase efficiency, but some of these apps may have applications outside the office.
IBM was one of the first companies to build on the classic suggestion box. John Rooney, IBM’s Manager of IT Strategy says, “Typically in corporate IT, we’re working top-down. This is trying to take that and turn it around and work from the ground up.”
4. GE has partnered with a venture capital firm called Frost Data Capital to launch 30 internal startups that serve the shared needs of GE and Frost Data. Given funding and access to a wealth of engineers, systems and software developers, the two companies hope this new initiative can solve a number of their shared operational inefficiencies.
This project is unique in that GE is starting companies to solve its own problems. Once the idea is formed and the company is backed with funding, a CEO is hired on to implement the idea and scale it internally, and eventually externally, to other companies. As the industry becomes more technical and diverse, large companies might find this tactic to be most beneficial when solving critical problems.
5. Hershey was the first corporation to sign on to a Philly incubator whose mission is to connect researchers with industry professionals around ideas. This incubator is the brainchild of the University of Pennsylvania. The 58,000-square-foot building is designed to feature labs, private offices and a co-working space for up to 200 members.The center will hold Hershey’s Advanced Technology & Foresight Lab, which is focused on solving for what’s next in packaging, production and consumer science.
Hershey is taking a gamble by working alongside researchers and employees from other corporations, but risk for the sake of learning is what entrepreneurship is all about.
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Photo credit: Unsplash user Samuel Zeller