Innovation Scouts for Big Companies

This past week the term “scout” came up in two different conversations in the context of big companies hiring other companies to help source innovative ideas and startups. Generally, the concept makes sense but I hadn’t ever heard of formal programs with retainers and performance-based fees. Big companies have a hard time innovating internally, which is one of the main reasons startups have such great opportunities.

Here are a few thoughts on innovation scouts for big companies:

  • The bigger the business, the bigger the new opportunity needs to be so that it’s worthwhile unless it is a bolt-on to an existing business (e.g. if you’re Google and the new line of business won’t have a billion in revenue in a few years, it isn’t worth their time)
  • Many industries have exceptionally long lead times to bring an innovative idea in the fold, like automotive, making for an even larger need to cast a wide net and fill the top of the funnel
  • Innovation has a number of false-starts such that it’s even more beneficial for scouts to filter the signal from noise for big companies

Innovation scouts make sense for big companies and I expect there’s more out there than most people realize.

What else? What are your thoughts on innovation scouts for big companies?

One thought on “Innovation Scouts for Big Companies

  1. David
    Just to say I subscribe to your posts and am a regular reader.
    I’m a freelancer who supports new ideas the British national health service. I’m doing some work to stimulate innovation in 3 large NHS trusts at the moment by running a competition.
    The idea of having a ‘scout’ would be very helpful and it’s something I’d consider putting forward during my project. It might help get over ‘not invented here’ syndrome by actively going out to look, rather than the NHS foisting innovation adoption on NHS Trusts.
    I think the NHS has some way to go to understands how this would aid competitive advantage, as the idea of competition is very contraversial.

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