It’s imperative that today’s businesses innovate fast and continuously. Designing systems and structures and making the right connections are essential to meeting this charge.
An ‘Innovation Accelerator’ is a structure for identifying, attracting and providing the resources necessary to define and launch new internal or external initiatives to meet business objectives faster. It’s all about bringing speed, momentum and capacity to bold ideas and new ways of working to advance innovation culture and results.
Accelerators are being used across all sectors—from Fintech to Healthtech, Climatetech and more— not only to continuously push toward the new and disruptive, but also to actively de-risk innovation, providing a purpose-built environment to conceive, then iteratively test and refine new solutions prior to entering the market.
And while the business needs that determine the appropriate shape and functioning of accelerators are continually shifting, the pace of change that makes them essential is only increasing. According to Statista, the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the need for innovation accelerators, specifically in emerging tech like advanced analytics, IoT and AI.
No matter your industry, objective or team structure, the Innovation Accelerator Canvas developed by frog’s Org Activation team, can help you meet your innovation goals. Download the editable PDF to help anchor your strategy and make key decisions about your accelerator’s purpose, its sourcing and selection strategy, the acceleration process and make up of your team, as well as the nature of your revenue and value streams.
From our work with Microsoft Ventures, Google 30 Weeks, B612 Cockpit, Allianz Global Digital Factory and others, as well as our collaboration with one of the world’s largest tech companies to structure the experience and curriculum for its global network of startup hubs, we’ve learned from years of experience helping design innovation accelerators.
As each accelerator reflects the specific assets, capabilities and value-generation model prioritized by its hosts, no two are identical. That said, when grouped by their strategic intent, some commonalities emerge. Your accelerator might fall under one of these categories, be a combination of several of them, or be something unique altogether.
Accelerator for internal change: A common objective of an internally focused accelerator is to mobilize employees as intrapreneurs and transform company culture. This involves the definition and dissemination of values, methods and routes toward innovation. In this model, the outcomes often pertain more to the improvement of business operations (e.g., becoming more agile, building new capabilities) than direct financial returns. For example, DSNA (a French air traffic management company) designed a specific acceleration program in order to foster an intrapreneur’s mindset and add new momentum to the organization’s transformation and increase competitiveness.
Accelerator to enhance open innovation: In an open innovation accelerator, the typical objectives include fostering the development of collaborative projects, attracting promising partners and strengthening engagement with external ecosystems. It’s not uncommon in these models to host open calls for innovative projects and to stimulate internal teams with external “sparring partners.” For example, pharmaceutical giant Sanofi built its Sanofi 39bis and 14bis Open Innovation Labs in Paris and Lyon to explore open innovation initiatives with partners.
Vertical-focused accelerator: Some ventures and initiatives require deep domain knowledge to make meaningful progress. These specialized accelerators might have an industry orientation, such as the Airbus BizLab which focuses on aerospace innovation, or a tech specialization, such as Nvidia—a global network of over 6,000 AI startups.
Accelerator for VC-oriented startups: To attract VC funding and follow-on rounds, startups need to demonstrate key forms of traction at each stage of their development. This might be proof of technological feasibility or product-market fit in the earliest stages, customer acquisition, engagement and retention as they progress, and revenue-oriented metrics later on (e.g., MRR, ARR, LTV, etc). Accelerators supporting these startups often provide a structured environment to hit key objectives within a clearly defined timeline—with the goal of tangibly increasing both the startup valuation and likelihood of funding. Their engagement models often focus on maturity stages (e.g., pre-seed, seed, scale, etc.) and verticals (industries and/or technologies) in order to allow for deeper support of a more aligned cohort of participants.
Looking to set up and run an accelerator of your own? The Innovation Accelerator Canvas is designed to help you define a strategy that works for your organization’s unique needs. Download the Innovation Accelerator Canvas to start your accelerator journey today.