No one wants to be the next Kodak, Blockbuster or Borders. Failing to embrace innovation comes with consequences. “Corporates around the world are worried about getting disrupted by Silicon Valley innovators,” explains Steffen Bartschat, a longtime Silicon Valley tech executive and technology scout for Faurecia, a $20B tier one automotive supplier. To keep up with rapid advances in technology, “they establish listening posts here, to connect with startup entrepreneurs and divine future trends,” Bartschat said.
Those listening posts come in various forms, from partnership with startup accelerators and incubators to creating their own innovation labs following in the footsteps of Citi with its 15 innovation labs around the globe. Innovation is also outsourced by corporates to innovation consultancies such as HowCanWe, which focuses on helping companies innovate internally, and to organizations such as BCG Digital Ventures, launched by The Boston Consulting Group, whose teams around the globe take an idea or disruption, build businesses and/or products for partners and then bring solutions to market.
With many options for embracing innovation and leveraging the technology of the future, one challenge is knowing which is the best innovation investment decision. “Funding Innovation Labs in Silicon Valley is a similar problem as picking a nice bottle of California wine – sure, that $150 bottle is highly likely to be a better experience, but maybe the $25 bottle is good enough? There is a vast range of dollars being spent on corporate innovation here in the Valley, and much of it is wasted,” Bartschat explained.
To shed more light on the issue of effectively participating in the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem and generating a valuable return Bartschat will moderate a panel for the German American Business Association in Palo Alto on June 4th with panelists from Deutsche Telekom, Schneider Electric, SanDisk and Crestlight Venture Productions. The event is open to GABA members and non-members; tickets and more information can be found here.