During times of change companies and investors are more inclined to pursue innovation. The Corona Covid-19 crisis has increased the relevance and urgency of digital change. As John F. Kennedy noted, “the Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word crisis. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis be aware of the danger, but recognise the opportunity”. Many traditional businesses have struggled with digital transformation such as industry 4.0 and other fields, post Corona Covid-19 startup innovation is becoming more relevant in helping those businesses to achieve their goals.
Executives explore more pro-actively opportunities for innovation to support research and product development. Corporate accelerator or incubator programs are characterised by direct business engagement and often rely on on-site groups. Open innovation programs, which scout for new startups outside the corporate boundaries generate pragmatic and targeted value-add. Across the corporate innovation agenda we see tendencies towards more virtual scouting collaboration. It provides remote pin-pointed innovation sourcing to quickly fill the needs gap with the help of dedicated tech scouting partners.
Virtual open innovation scouting is not hindered by distance. This is important because even national flights or train journeys for personal meetings, e.g. in Germany from Berlin to Munich become more challenging post Corona Covid-19. Companies commonly scout for startups globally in leading tech hubs such as Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv. Investors and businesses of various sizes choose to work remotely with local scouting partners to secure tech startups that help them foster their open innovation agenda. To save time, money and resources, foreign executives install local innovation scouting partners abroad to source startups on their behalf.
We draw upon our experience with European corporates and Israeli startups to demonstrate a modular approach for virtual open innovation. In the post Corona Covid-19 era we see four phases underpinning a robust innovation venturing framework.
Knowledge exchange: executives learn from other corporates that do innovation (better than themselves) to become more comfortable going forward with their own innovation mandate.
Personalized scouting: scouts identify relevant startups to tackle corporate’s specific problem statements, take time to understand the business needs and have expertise to challenge them if necessary.
Startup demo: scouts explain corporates’ needs to startups and prepare entrepreneurs to present business relevant applications.
Innovation buddy: corporates and scouts partner for ongoing value creation through continuous scouting and project management.