Innovation Days are a way for corporations to take their first steps towards embracing a culture of innovation and collaboration with startups. While the details vary according to the client, Pioneers Discover typically inspires the attending employees through tailored sessions and presentations specific to the client’s business challenges, through startup scouting, pitches and introductions, and through co-creation workshops.
“Innovation Days are ideal for introducing a company to its first experience of the startup world,” says Pioneers Discover Project Manager Anton Schilling. “They’re designed to inspire top staff to think in innovative terms and give them the opportunities for first contact with relevant startups. The ideal outcome is that the participants become ambassadors for startup collaboration within the business.”
Yesterday’s Henkel Innovation Day, run in Vienna for around 100 staff from the Integrated Business Unit, was a case in point. The spirit of innovation in the room was almost palpable, with both the throng of employees and the nine invited startups really giving it their all. A short but effective startup-corporate collaboration session in the afternoon, in which different teams from Henkel met with the startups to discuss both pain points and solutions, produced a real buzz. And the outcome was nine great pitches that really were the result of a joint effort.
While choosing the best of a terrific bunch was unusually tough, Henkel invited four startups to travel to its international headquarters in Düsseldorf where they can form a deeper connection with the company and discuss potential collaborations. From tools that can forecast local sales patterns to AI-driven chemical fomula optimization solution, each of 7LYTIX, CCS Digital Education, DEEPSEARCH and serial Pioneers event winners Craftworks showed something concrete they could build for Henkel.
“The nine startups were super,” said Dr Paolo Bavaj, Henkel’s Head of Corporate Venturing, who travelled from Düsseldorf to keep an eye on proceedings from a collaboration and investment perspective. “I attend a lot of pitch events, but not many with such a high quality of startups. They had very well thought-through business models and were at a very good maturation stage, having first business and traction already. You rarely see that at normal pitch events. I was pleasantly surprised to have such a lot of problems picking the winners.”
Also pleased with outcomes was his colleague Dr Wolfgang Binder, EIMEA Head of Process Consulting, who is driving the initiative to grow the innovation culture in the Integrated Business Solutions unit.
“I wasn’t really expecting anything much,” said Binder, “but I’m amazed with the amount of ideas that popped up in the end. There were far more on the table than made it onto the stage in the end, and we’ll be following up on all of them.
“Such an event was a first for us, and our experience with startups is in its infancy. What happened today wasn’t typical for us – and the outcomes were much more beneficial for Henkel than we thought they might be.
“I was impressed with the amount of interaction and questions from our employees in the audience. Our people showed such a lot of interest in new ways of working. They started thinking about topics they hadn’t connected with before. When I looked around the collaboration session this was really visible, as I saw the ideas going up on the canvas.
“This was a pilot for us and the conclusion is that we would like to take this format further in one way or another, adapting for local requirements of course. It also shows we’re ready and open for other formats, like hackathons, where we have concrete issues or problems to address.
“For sure we would be happy to work with Pioneers Discover on these: the co-operation worked really well and it was obvious that they are experts in doing such events! We were only going to invite three startups to Düsseldorf, and the fact that we decided to invite four was an indication of their quality.”
Pioneers Discover has delivered similar innovation days for the likes of Porsche, Rehau, Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich and the Austrian Post Office.
Rehau, a leading systems and service provider for polymer-based solutions in construction, automotive and industry, wanted to inspire employees in various departments to think innovatively and co-create with startups specifically in the areas of Smart Retail, Smart Industrial Solutions and Smart Furniture Applications. This was a two-stage innovation program that started with an Innovation Day and then led into co-creation workshops with startups.
“Pioneers Discover connected us to first-class international startups and introduced us to the vibrant and intriguing startup world,” said a representative from the Rehau Research & Development Department. “The co-creation workshops with the startups inspired us to think in completely new ways and business models. We can definitely recommend Pioneers Discover to facilitate the venture into the startup world as a corporate and to introduce fruitful collaborations with top-notch startups.”
Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, meanwhile, were looking to meet FinTech startups to help develop innovative solutions for Austria’s leading regional bank. Their program culminated in an Innovation Day and resulted in the implementation of mobile payment solution developed by Blue Code, one of the attending startups.
“The Innovation Day at the not only revealed many exciting new additions, services and solutions for the financial industry, it also provided insights into the efficient operation and organization of start-ups,” said Dr Heinrich Schaller, General Director of Raiffeisenlandesbank OÖ. “The exchange and cooperation with Austrian and international FinTechs is an essential component of our innovation strategy.
“The resulting cooperation with Blue Code represents an important extension of the service spectrum to our customers and has also closed a gap in mobile payments for smartphones using the iOS operating system.”
Innovation Days, of course, are just the beginning of what our consultancy arm can offer. Once they’re on board with the startups world, companies may consider diving deeper into bespoke tech solutions by means of a hackathon. For more on what a Pioneers Discover hackathon entails, click here.
To get in touch with Pioneers Discover, email firstname.lastname@example.org