Corporate accelerator as a strategy to thrive open innovation

Assessing open innovation climate and its impact on absorptive capacity

In an attempt to thrive open innovation and collaboration with young and innovative start-up companies, more and more corporate firms use so-called corporate accelerators (CA). In such CA initially scouted start-ups work together with mentors and corporate internals to proof the strategic-fit of their innovative ideas and technologies with the sponsoring corporate firm and qualify for an ongoing collaboration. The working methods and routines inside a corporate accelerator are based on strong collaboration of individuals from different professional backgrounds and described as flexibly responding to the changing demands of the market-place. Structurally separated from the often mechanistic and inward-looking culture in corporations, the flexible climate and the agile routines in corporate accelerators are aligned to create a breeding ground for external innovations and allow fast-track progress in the knowledge absorption process.
To validate those assumptions and illustrate the impact of CA, this presentation will illustrate the results of a single case-study of corporate acceleration (Alperia Startup Factory). Hereby the open innovation climate prevalent in a corporate accelerator was compared with other conventional business units of the same company. Furthermore this climate’s impact on the respective units’ realized absorptive capacity was assessed. In an additional ad hoc analysis different meaningful clusters of open innovation climate on the unit-level in the analysed company could be illustrated.
The results of this study show, that corporate accelerators can in fact be understood as a relatively fertile breeding ground for external innovation. But also evidence for the CA-accompanying limits and challenges will be illustrated, i.e. the importance of a well-executed initial scouting process of external start-ups and the raising question of how corporate acceleration-outcomes are best transferred into the corporate core-business in the aftermath.