5 Ways to Start Your Company’s Innovation Program

To stay relevant in a rapidly changing market, it’s imperative to generate new ideas, solve complex business problems, and create value for customers. One reliable approach to achieving this is starting your organization’s innovation program. Continue reading to learn more.

Innovation is a crucial factor for business success in today’s dynamic market. However, even the most innovative companies face challenges from a lack of good ideas to failed projects and low creativity. It is essential to maintain the momentum and pursue innovation initiatives, even when there are challenges and setbacks. That’s where innovation programs come into the picture, creating an environment that generates new ideas. But developing unique business ideas is easier said than done. However, with the right resources, you can improve efficiency and foster a culture of innovation. In this post, we will explore 5 ways to start your company’s innovation program and stay ahead of the competition.

5 Ways to Start Your Company’s Innovation Program

1. Understand Innovation Approaches and Structures

Having a clear vision of the future is imperative for success, and requires gathering trends and innovation insights from your industry. First, let’s understand the four major types of innovation approaches you can also adopt: disruptive, incremental, sustaining, and radical. Disruptive innovation creates new markets and networks, often driving existing markets out (think mobile phones with music displacing decades of domination by cassette and CD players).

Incremental innovation involves making continuous improvements to existing products or services through small and gradual upgrades (think Gillette and its continuous improvements, particularly in blades). On the other hand, sustaining innovation improves the current value of a product or service through significant enhancements in quality, performance, or functionality. For example, smartphones make big leaps in technology every couple of years. Radical innovation introduces a completely new product, service, or business model that creates an entirely new market (think Airbnb, which complements rather than replaces the traditional hospitality industry). Choosing the right approach to innovation is crucial to achieving your business goals.

Choosing an Innovation Structure

Depending on the type of innovation you are seeking, choosing the appropriate structure is also important. In a centralized structure, most decisions are made by top management, and it benefits large organizations with multiple business units. Whereas, in a decentralized structure, most of the decision-making is delegated to low-level managers or teams working closely with customers. This structure increases creativity and results in quick responses to market changes. A hybrid structure balances the benefits of both centralized and decentralized decision-making. After selecting a structure, it is crucial to break down areas of change into clear problem statements. This allows you to prioritize particular problems, resulting in a clear path for implementing innovative solutions.

Read more about this: Discover 4 Types of Innovation

2. Stimulate Intrapreneurship

Intrapreneurship is encouraging employees of your organization to act like an entrepreneur and develop new products, services, and processes. Fostering an intrapreneurial mindset among your company’s employees drives innovation and improves organizational processes. It involves encouraging creative thinking and providing resources and support for developing and implementing innovative ideas. Hiring individuals who possess an intrapreneurial mindset are beneficial as they are more willing to challenge existing models and question underlying assumptions. This way, experimenting with ideas promotes a culture of creativity and collaboration. Further, leveraging the knowledge of your workforce is key to quickly innovating and creating an environment conducive to generating new ideas.

Taking actionable steps such as communicating the company’s vision, mission, and strategic goals to all employees regularly stimulates intrapreneurship. This aligns their innovative ideas and initiatives with your company’s broadest objectives. Intrapreneurship empowers employees by giving them ownership and autonomy over such projects. Also, celebrating failure is equally important during any innovation process. This is because a previously failed idea can potentially be revived and turned into a profitable one in the future.

You might be interested in: How Intrapreneurship boosts Corporate Innovation

3. Launch Closed Innovation Programs

Implementing closed innovation programs involves using in-house resources like employees, internal research and development departments, and proprietary technology. Closed innovation provides a secure environment for idea generation and development, thereby reducing the risk of intellectual property (IP) theft. It also offers you total control over the innovation process, allowing you to tailor new concepts to align with your business strategy and objectives. This also inspires employees to develop unique and creative solutions to problems within the company. Closed innovation gives you a competitive advantage by keeping innovative developments within the company, thereby protecting technologies and processes.

Since organizations rely on their own capabilities and resources, planning and risk assessment are essential steps in launching a closed innovation program. Defining the program goals is the first step, which involves specifying the innovation areas and the desired outcomes. The next step is establishing a process for the closed innovation program, including setting up a team, defining roles and responsibilities, and establishing timelines and milestones. An example of a closed innovation program is the development of Apple’s iPhone. They had a clear goal of creating a revolutionary smartphone that combined a touch screen, a music player, and a web browser. Their dedicated team of engineers and designers developed iPhone in secrecy, without external collaboration or feedback. And as you all know, this breakthrough product changed the mobile industry.

Also read: The Ultimate Innovation Intelligence Platform: Stay Ahead of the Curve

4. Run Open Innovation Programs

Open innovation program allows an organization to leverage external sources of ideas, knowledge, and expertise to solve problems. This involves collaborating with a broader network of stakeholders. They can be customers, suppliers, partners, public universities, startups, and established companies. With open innovation programs, organizations tap into a diverse range of perspectives and expertise to develop novel, innovative, and effective solutions to solve pressing business problems. Further, a hybrid model that combines both open and closed innovation models allows organizations to develop technological solutions internally, while also leveraging external resources to test and optimize products at scale.

Additionally, it is equally important to cultivate a culture that embraces novel ideas, experimentation, trust, sharing, and continuous learning and adaptation. Running open innovation programs involves the following steps: identify the target audience, define innovation objectives and goals, select the open innovation approach, utilize a reliable open innovation management platform, and initiate small-scale pilot projects. An example of this is renewable energy leader Iberdrola’s open innovation challenges. It collaborates with startups to find solutions that solve its specific business challenges. With this, it creates value, transfers knowledge, attracts talent, and promotes entrepreneurship in the energy sector.

You might find this helpful: 5 Top Lessons from Iberdrola’s Open Innovation Challenges

5. Continuous Monitoring & Evaluation

To optimize your company’s innovation strategy and see real results, it is crucial to consistently evaluate and monitor your innovation programs. Measuring progress using metrics enables assessing how well the program is performing. The metrics are important, and choosing the right ones to track is essential. Further, establishing a reporting system that is easily accessible to all stakeholders is important. Regular reports keep everyone informed and enable the identification of any issues that need attention. Additionally, encouraging feedback from employees and stakeholders improves the overall performance of the innovation program.

Another important factor to consider is the number of projects that have been successfully executed by the organization during the innovation program. Measuring customer satisfaction and turnover rates is also important to inform future decisions and actions. Planbox Continuous Improvement Platform is one such innovation tool that enables stakeholders to submit new proposals, feedback, and suggestions for management to review on a regular basis. This ensures that the organization is always looking for ways to achieve business excellence and innovate new products and services. By continuous monitoring and evaluation, you can jumpstart your company’s innovation program and stay ahead of the competition.

Don’t forget to read: Use these 10 SaaS Tools for Innovation Management

How to Start Your Innovation Program with StartUs Insights?

As AI continues to progress, data is playing a larger role in innovation programs. The good news is that you can use data to generate valuable insights into your target market.

Trend Intelligence

We, at StartUs Insights, develop a Trend Intelligence solution that gives you access to 29 500+ trends and technologies. This allows you to:

  • Anticipate Future Trends & Business Opportunities — We deploy advanced analytics to hundreds of thousands of trusted sources on startups, emerging technologies, and industry trends to provide you with accurate insights into trends impacting your industry in a short amount of time.
  • Stay Up to Date — Monitoring the business ecosystem continuously ensures the identification of emerging technologies, trends, and opportunities. Our service provides you with regular updates on recent developments through Trend Intelligence Reports, Innovation Maps, and Real-time Databases.

Also read: Identify Innovations Early with Best Trend Intelligence Platform




Innovation Scouting

Our Innovation Scouting Platform helps companies like yours to keep a tab on the market — what’s new, what’s changing, what has the maximum scope, and much more.

Using our big data and AI-powered software, we:

  • Analyze billions of data points from various startups & technologies
  • Map the data with AI and expert knowledge
  • Let you discover and get in touch with innovative startups

So, what does this mean for you?

  • Discover Opportunities Before Others — Our proprietary technology enables you to discover relevant startups, technologies, and business cases early on. Hence, you can empower your business units with actionable, data-driven insights.
  • Detect Pivotal Changes — We continuously monitor the startup ecosystem to detect pivotal changes.
  • Map the World of Tomorrow — Our advanced data mapping process provides you with a bird’s-eye view of the emerging technology landscape. Use our comprehensive Innovation Maps for effective decision-making.

Read more: Startup Scouting: A Comprehensive List of FAQs

Startup Program Service

Our Startup Program Service consisting of data-driven promotion, direct outreach, and storytelling reaches hundreds of thousands of startups and scaleups, making sure you attract the most relevant ones for your company’s startup program. This is why 500+ companies trust us with their open innovation challenges!

We manage & promote your innovation program in two ways:

  • Direct Outreach — Using the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, our expert analysts shortlist more than 2 000 relevant startups catering to your criteria from a huge database of 2 093 000+ companies and directly reach out to them with your offer and convince them to apply.
  • Promotional Activities — Our marketing ninjas produce informative SEO-driven articles promoting the program to be published in our blog and super-engaging social media copies that are posted across our social media channels.

Apart from the core services mentioned above, we also offer:

  • Setup of Conversion-Optimized Landing Page — Don’t have the time or bandwidth to create the web page for your program? Taking maximum advantage of our experience with SEO-optimized content, we set up the landing page of your startup program to attract more applicants.
  • Applicant Pre-screening — Received more applicants than you can handle? We got you! Our in-house trained analysts will analyze startup data to pre-screen the applicants with the best potential

Whether you are stuck in an innovation abyss or overwhelmed by too many ideas, innovation programs will streamline your innovation process. Reach out to us to start your innovation program today.

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