Risky Business
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Risky Business

4 Frameworks for Corporate Innovation

Blending academic models with practical experience

1. Horizons of Growth

This model is sometimes referenced by corporate innovation teams and sorts innovation efforts by stage, risk, and timing; this allows a portfolio approach to balance near-term execution with long-term goals.

adapted from Grow From Within by Wolcott & Lippitz

2. Four Models of Corporate Entrepreneurship

According to Wolcott and Lippitz, there are four main types of uncertainty facing corporations: market, technical, resource, and organizational. Of these, only resource and organizational uncertainty are under direct control of management and the Board of Directors.

adapted from Grow From Within by Wolcott & Lippitz

3. Innovation Radar

Innovation Radar is also an academic framework, providing corporate entrepreneurs a mechanism for understanding twelve different aspects of their business that are impacted by innovation efforts. Each dimension of the innovation radar can be emphasized by different activities. For example, when Kellogg’s launched its CVC fund eighteen94 Capital to invest in healthy, “better for you” food brands, the effort began addressing dimensions like Offerings (by funding new products and food categories), Brand (by developing an identity tied to health, sustainability, and better ingredients), and Customers (by accessing new consumer groups through novel products). Simon Burton, the head of eighteen94 Capital, spoke to the class about the formation of Kellogg’s corporate venture fund (disclaimer: Touchdown Ventures works directly with Simon to manage eighteen94 Capital).

from Grow From Within by Wolcott & Lippitz

4. Inside Out

The Inside Out framework focuses on implementation, categorizing the different types of tasks available to corporate entrepreneurs according to whether the corporation is in control or third parties are in control. As described in Scott’s article Inside Out, originally published in TechCrunch, corporations can choose among research & development, incubation, acceleration, corporate venture capital, and mergers & acquisitions. Innovators can mix and match these tools. We developed the “cheat sheet” below to summarize the strengths, weaknesses, and use cases of these various approaches to innovation.

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Thoughts on corporate VC from the team at Touchdown Ventures, the leading provider of managed venture capital for corporations.

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Will Geiger

VC investor at Touchdown Ventures. UCLA Anderson MBA and USC Trojan.