Corporate accelerators…waste of time & money?

To the point and controversial as always, Anand Sanwal article (founder of CB Insights) popped into my inbox this morning (see below) ….I agree with some of the points….but what’s the answer – how can corporates seek & then collaborate with start ups to deliver innovation? Love to hear views especially from Barclays, Nike, Unilever folk who’ve all invested ?

Corporate accelerators — innovation scouting done wrong

(This will probably be unpopular)

When I see a big corporation launch a buzzwordy accelerator program, I hear the sound of money getting flushed down the toilet.

They launch these to get some buzz/look cool and, in theory, support and learn from start-ups. But here’s the rub: if you’re a giant, slow-moving company not known for being particularly innovative, the start-ups attracted to your accelerator are going to be 2nd or 3rd tier.

This is innovation theatre.

That said, if you are focused on trying to “look innovative,” here is the full list of tactics that we’ve previously detailed:

  1. Hire a chef.
  2. Make up ridiculous sounding titles for people like Innovation Sherpa or Digital Prophet.
  3. Build a startup-y office with an open floor plan, showers, and an Xbox/PlayStation.
  4. Talk a lot about failing fast and disruption.
  5. Visit Silicon Valley to meet start-ups.
  6. Talk about how you’re embracing innovation during company townhalls and tell stories about hoodie-wearing founders you’ve met.
  7. Launch an innovation lab or accelerator. It doesn’t matter what it does (if anything) — but do this.
  8. Tell people that you don’t wear suits and that you wear jeans to work.
  9. Hire someone who wasn’t getting promoted at Google or Apple to head your innovation efforts.
  10. Tell people regularly that this person is from Apple or Google.
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