Mastering Corporate Innovation - Best Practices, Tools & Implementation

Mastering Corporate Innovation on June 23rd, 2022 was an event to remember. Taking place at the Strascheg Centre for Entrepreneurship in Munich, our guests joined us from the start-up, corporate, and university worlds. It was great to hear so many viewpoints on an issue we all need to work harder on implementing in Germany – innovation

Mastering Corporate Innovation

Following a stellar introduction by CURAZE co-founders Natascha Zeljko and Claus Schuster, some takeaways of the evening included a keynote by Bettina Maisch, Professor for Entrepreneurship at Munich University of Applied Science, on “Challenges in Corporate Innovation”. She covered:

  • Silo thinking
  • The problem of conflicting interests: achieving quarterly numbers often clashes with longer-term thinking.
  • Internal competition between teams instead of collaboration.

The only way to drive or push through an innovation? The boss wants it, the customer wants it - or the competition has it.

Bettina Maisch, Professor for Entrepreneurship Munich University of Applied Science

We then heard from Design Thinking, Multipreneur, and Business Angel Expert Alex Grots, who shared with us the innovation tools worth using and some terms to know:

  • The forms of innovation: viability, feasibility, and desirability.
  • The purpose of innovation at the interface between user, the company, and the offering is highly relevant for behavioral change (Ex. The case of Toyota Prius.) See also the example of AOL, who already invented a social platform – but as it was not clear how to monetize the business (or lack of fantasy) it was eventually Facebook who built a multibillion business.

Companies are like an immune system. New things are rejected.

Alex Grots, Design Thinking Expert and Business Angel
  • Run the bank, change the bank: one example how innovation could be pushed forward (but also failed) was a bank who tried the “run the bank, change the bank“ approach. One part sticks to the old business, one part disrupts the old business.
  • Must have qualities to innovate: being open, optimistic, curious, empathic, collaborative, and creative.
  • The most important driver for a successful innovation? FUN. Never forget the reward strategy.

The most important thing about entrepreneurship is making decisions.

Alex Grots, Design Thinking Expert and Business Angel

EWOR Founder and Managing Director, Daniel Dippold reflected in his first presentation on “Corporate Innovation Done Wrong” that:

  • Innovation cycles are accelerating at an impressive speed. The number of unicorns worldwide in 2013, 4. In 2021, 568.
  • The lifetime of companies has also decreased dramatically from 30 years (1990) to 5 years (2020).
  • With pressure increases, you have to reinvent yourself again and again.
  • We’re facing a disruption dilemma.

Experience does not mean more expertise.

Daniel Dippold, EWOR Founder and Managing Director
  • What is an Accelerator // Innovation Lab // Incubator:
    • Accelerator-Problem/Challenge: culture clash, no compatibility with core business, no functional compatibility, and missing incentive mechanisms
    • Innovation Lab-Problem/Challenge: corporate culture vs. start-up expectations, no mechanism for successful spin-offs, and lack of training and know-how of employees.
    • Incubator-Problem/Challenge: Compliance problems, problems with re-staffing, lack of training and know-how of employees, and tunnel vision from 'inside'.
  • T-Shaped vs. I-Shaped teams and organizations and why the minimal viable prototype (according to Martin Kagan) and not the minimal viable product is the solution.
  • It’s all about the speed of the innovation process.

How this works, Daniel showed us a best case “From 0 to Forbes in less than 12 months”, which was created according to the EWOR Innovation Circle:

  • Customer Discovery
  • Synthesis & Ideation
  • Early Validation
  • Prototyping
  • Later Validation
  • Scaling

This process is how Flike managed to build a software for a middle-sized company.

  • The task: replacing Excel as a tool, since it is very prone to error with companies spending up to 30 % of their time to identify and erase the error.
  • What the Flike founder found out: people love Excel, so it’s not very likely that they will use a new tool.
  • His solution: keeping Excel as the surface and underlying a completely newly constructed data base, which makes the process run smoothly and properly (without mistakes.) And currently with even more progression with machine learning on top.

Next, EWOR fellow’s Jan Hoffbauer and Günter Rottenfußer presented us with another best-case scenario: how they built the app Compenshare in collaboration with Lufthansa; An app which reduces food waste significantly. Their approach: Gamification.

Save the planet while having fun.

Coming full circle, the event closed with an intriguing presentation on Innovation and Circularity by Impact Venture Capitalist Xavier Sarras.

The basis is to allow disruptive culture, to establish it in the values, to live it.

Xavier Sarras, Impact Venture Capitalist at 4P Capital

Xavier showed us four start-ups of the sustainability and circularity sector, how creative and smart these innovators solve severe problems:

  • Resortext: They have developed a thread that dissolves at higher temperatures. This makes it easier to reuse denim, for example.
  • Positive Carbon: They established a fully automated food waste monitoring system.
  • Matter: Capturing, harvesting, and recycling microplastics (they build filters for washing machines.)
  • One Point Five: Next gen eco-saving materials.

Sustainability is not eco blah blah, but a gigantic business opportunity.

Xavier Sarras, Impact Venture Capitalist at 4P Capital

A huge thank you to flavoury GmbH for providing a delicious, healthy, and eco-conscious menu, as well as Wyne for the refreshments – the white wine hit just the spot on a hot summer evening.

We’d like to thank all those who attended and traveled from all over Germany to attend. It was great to see so many familiar and new faces! And for once we had a majority female audience – something that is rather rare at events like these! A big round of applause to the EWOR team for curating the perfect lineup, as well as the Strascheg Centre for hosting us. We are already looking forward to the next event!



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