October 8, 2018 – If necessity is the mother of invention, then innovation is the child born from that necessity. For corporations, however, innovation is often blocked by the desire for company longevity and profitability while employees focus on job security and avoiding risk. People get caught up on the next paycheck which unknowingly causes corporate projects to morph into a zombie-like experience. As a result, innovation is slow to evolve because risk to the company or an employee’s survival is potentially threatened.
Enter the Corporate Innovation Program (CIP) initiated by ITEN in 2016. What first began as a pilot program to test collaborations between startups and corporations, resulted in greater insight into emerging technologies and enhanced growth for corporations.
Mark Showers, a former board member to ITEN, recognized the value of engaging the St. Louis startup community with local corporations. The value became more evident when Mark joined RGAX as Chief Solutions Officer seeking the energy and mindset of a startup. These entrepreneurs in residence (EIR) bring unrestrained energy to a corporation which helps introduce business ideas and grow them into a reality. RGAX needed that help, which is a common scenario most corporations struggle to initiate.
Corporate Innovation—what is it?
Mark Showers defines it well: “Startups gain access to corporate leadership while big business can feed off the energy and innovation of startups.”
Established companies have ongoing projects, tight budgets, and limited runways to introduce new ideas into their culture. Introducing outside, fresh thinking eliminates these blocks and enables innovative processes within the company. It’s a form of apprenticeship that unites an entrepreneurial team with a corporation seeking their particular brand of innovation.
Corporation gains from CIP
- Access to cutting-edge technologies
- Accelerated introductions to startups through ITEN’s innovation showcase
- Product risk is lessened when matched with an entrepreneur
- Retaining and attracting local tech talent
- Improved ROI
Startup gains from CIP
- Insight and validation from corporations on market-driven problems
- Acquire corporate mentoring in preparation for investor pitches
- Mentorships often result in partnering, investing, or piloting additional programs
CIP: Beyond recruiting
For companies wishing to utilize the top tech talent for their innovative purposes, the CIP is the best place to identify and explore collaborations. The level of specialized talent and the connections facilitated by ITEN’s showcases are unavailable at the recruiting level. As a result, stronger innovative and collaborative opportunities are generated, which encourages corporate growth.
For corporations seeking innovation outside of their comfort zone, ITEN’s CIP introduces the best fit through their knowledge, network, and programs within the STL tech ecosystem. To learn more visit: