Scouting solutions for your company’s problem: too many choices?
When I worked at major corporations, we sometimes faced a problem that we couldn’t solve internally. A client wanting additional features on a product for which we didn’t have the technology nor the experts. Clients needing a product we didn’t have in our portfolio and a must have in our end-end-solution offering. Or we wanted to change technology to build more sustainable and energy efficient products without have the right tech. Just to name a few.
I had many good reasons for looking over the corporate fence to find solutions. We didn’t have experts with the right skills to develop the product feature, or we needed a solution urgently, or we didn’t have the necessary resources to build a team and solution, or we wanted to explore a totally new untapped domain.
As many other major corporations, we used a portfolio of services to get to the right experts, technology, products or businesses. The most common path was to send some people to conferences and trade shows — I have been to many, learned a lot, met interesting people but how difficult was it to get the new information channeled to the relevant people within the company? We set up partnerships with leading universities worldwide to find experts and technologies early on. We scouted startups in relevant fields and learned about their tech. We participated to government sponsored research projects. We setup joint development agreements or joint ventures with companies that have the right technology, people or products. And more.
Plenty of options, if you have the resources, and, time. But what if you haven’t?
Even if you have, how do you find the significant and reliable others you want to partner with?
We also organized competitive challenges in specific domains to attract interesting applications from experts, teams, and startups. We got a lot of input, but it required a humongous amount of time and internal resources to sift applications — the return on investment was not always great. Or we worked with a venture studio whom we gave our business challenge — the studio would come up with solutions, entrepreneurs and funding to kickstart startups. Or we sponsored an incubator or accelerator that found relevant startup teams working on ideas for solutions (incubator) or building and scaling solutions (accelerator) for the business problems we provided. Or we built relationships with VCs and funds to identify and invest in relevant early-stage companies, and possibly acquire them.
In the current climate of uncertainty and disruption such efforts might require a whole arsenal of resources (financial, people and time) just to find the solution and manage resulting stakeholder relations. So, even more options.
Whether in urgent need for a solution or for longer-term relationship building, a simple way to search for a solution or the seeds of a solution would have been welcome.
That is where an innovation matchmaking platform comes in handy. For the problem statement at hand, the platform gives a set of desired solutions, whether prototype, product, technology or expert. A platform that provides curated solutions based on selection criteria, vetted and ranked is even better — a cost-effective, resource-efficient and almost real-time way to find solutions. A platform right in the hands of those who need a solution, at the business unit level and not some team somewhere in a corporate office.
Thierry Van Landegem leads the Climate & Energy Tech as well as the Smart Manufacturing & Industrial IoT cohort of the mHUB Accelerator, a program that fast-tracks hardtech startups on their journey to becoming scalable, profitable, and sustainable businesses. He is responsible for startup sourcing and evaluation, as well as program development and execution. Thierry is also advising several startups, one of them focusing on innovation matchmaking.