Many corporate accelerators are adding to ‘innovation theatre’

Off the Record

Monthly Archives: July 2018

Many corporate accelerators are adding to ‘innovation theatre’

With this growing interest, comes a line of partnerships and spaces that have emerged over the years. Unfortunately, not all of these efforts -corporate accelerators to be exact- have lived up to their mission.

The sad reality is many corporate accelerator models are “by corporates for corporate interest”, adding to ‘innovation theatre’, otherwise known as innovation just for show.

Today, many corporate accelerators have become a place to draw up excitement by experimenting with innovation, but failing to help scale and commercialize any startups. A large part of this is because many corporate accelerators are not truly unlocking their internal resources and extensive networks to solve the problems they say they care about.

The fact is, many of these corporate accelerators haven’t found a formula that gives both startups and corporates what they want. The current state of these spaces have not established a ‘win-win’ for both parties.

So, how can corporate accelerators do better?

To become a constructive part of the global innovation ecosystem, it’s necessary to build a model that can help startups leverage corporate assets in order to scale and grow (instead of it feeling like it’s the other way around).

Stop working in silos – there are a number of great incubators and accelerators within the ecosystem. Instead of putting resources towards something new or hiring an incubator/accelerator to run an accelerator, find ways to support what’s already working within current incubator/accelerator programs that can also support your end goal.

If you’re a corporate going forward with an accelerator program, then you need to understand the playing field. Trying to add corporate bureaucracies and fixed procedures will not be conducive to an environment that should be focusing on startup growth.

In many cases, there seems to be more effort, time and money being put into launching corporate accelerator spaces than there is notable opportunities for entrepreneurs. And until these points are addressed, startups -the ones who can’t afford to waste time during a pivotal part of their growth- will feel disconnected and dissatisfied by the efforts of such spaces.

Canada: The need for more

Canadian entrepreneurs have the opportunity to create a global impact. Our startups and innovators are world-class leaders. However, if we don’t create an ecosystem where they can flourish, our prosperity is at risk. And unfortunately, that’s where we are now.

Creating a successful home-grown business benefits all stakeholders. We see this with countries that are currently leading today’s innovation economy. They do it on the back of entrepreneurs and by commercializing their ideas. However, in Canada, Blackberry (launched by RIM) is still the only company that has been listed among the world’s top innovators. And that was almost 20 years ago.

If we want more Canadian tech companies to become household names around the world, we need to stop riding waves and become market leaders. Our government pumping money into an innovation agenda isn’t enough. There needs to be a shift in our mindset and strategies. We need to be more aggressive and assertive in our approach.

It’s time to understand what role we each play in making sure critical steps are taken to help us transition from being a country with potential to one that is prosperous.

We can only do this if our country’s universities, businesses and political leaders come together to consider programs, policies and initiatives that work hand-in-hand with entrepreneurs. It’s time to boost links between our most important stakeholders and stop working in silos. Our ecosystem, and the players within it, have matured. And now, it’s time for us to make some hard decisions. We need to double down on our high potential startups and programs in order to guarantee success. Spreading our resources equally to all players is no longer an option if we want to get to the next level.

The stakes have gotten higher and it’s no longer about creating a vision to help startups grow and compete in the global innovation economy, but developing a path to make sure they win on the global stage.