Three things you should consider before setting up an innovation lab

Everyone is doing it! Setting up an innovation function, incubator, accelerator, lab or hub. Here are three things you need to consider, even before starting due diligence

1. Innovation in a traditional corporate environment is hard

I wrote previously about how to become an intrepreneur in a corporate environment, and this holds true if you decide to set up innovation functions within the company. How can you allocate resources for high-risk projects if you are too busy trying to hit those sales targets?

Even if you set up a separate entity, if you ‘spin-in’ an innovation, you need to consider how this innovation fits with your corporate goals, processes and motivations of the existing staff.

2. Make sure you know what you want to disrupt

We’ve all seen it, and there are many examples of industries that have been disrupted by companies: Uber + taxis, AirBnB + travel, Netflix + film, Spotify + music. We hear and write about these successes, as well as the failures – and in fact the list of failures is longer than we could imagine.

That’s why when you want to start an innovation lab, you need to consider your motivations – do you want to disrupt your industry, your sector or even your company? The answer to this question will determine how you approach an innovation lab and the setup, whether it’s an internal ‘function’, a subdivision or even a separate entity.

3. Choosing the right structure is paramount

It’s not easy deciding which model works for your company, but there are many to choose from.

Incubator or Accelerator?

Skunkworks, Lab or Hub?

Integrated or Separate?

Each has it’s drawbacks and benefits and these different models need to be considered to match the culture, goals and budget of your organisation.

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