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Home > Blogs > Leslie Kossoff > Innovation funding – the prize isn’t in the box

Innovation funding – the prize isn’t in the box

Innovation funding | Innovation funding – the prize isn’t in the box. Leslie Kossoff

One of everyone’s favorite corporate phrases is, “Let’s think outside the box.”

That’s actually wrong. Because in the real world, there is no box. Otherwise, innovation wouldn’t exist.

Smart players know this. Big time. And, as a result, they’re putting their money where their belief is.

From government organizations to major corporations, the understanding is out there that they can’t find the answers on their own. They need new thinking that comes from people who are doing things that are far outside their own enterprise’s particular ‘box.’ They need the kind of new thinking that changes worlds – or at least creates or enhances products and services.

Procter & Gamble’s Connect + Develop is a perfect example of a big player that knows that it needs outside influences both to create new products and brands as well as to improve their existing stable. No matter how much they invest in innovation and R&D, they’re not going to nail it all – and that opens the door for outsiders to be welcomed in.

Then there are sites like Innocentive that create opportunities for those who have problems to meet up with those who solve problems – with both making money in the process.

But that’s nothing new. In a report by McKinsey & Company, there is a multi-page appendix citing all the different prize sites that range from the social solutions challenge, Changemakers – which offers $5,000 in actual cash but, more importantly, access to big ticket investors – to NASA and its need for innovation in aerospace technology. The latter nets the innovator anywhere from $300K to $2m in financing.

And even NASA isn’t the biggest bucks player out there and actively looking.

The XPrize Foundation offers funding prizes of at least $10m to “drive innovators to solve some of the greatest challenges facing the world today.”

I first became aware of the XPrize Foundation when I was looking at alternative metrics and models relating to innovation. Using the electric vehicle industry as a case in point, with all its new technologies, business models and infrastructure, led me to the XPrize’s new metric for the industry: MPGE.

MPGE stands for Miles Per Gallon Equivalent which they established “because sometimes what powers a car isn’t a gallon of anything.”

Talk about opening up a world of opportunity for creativity and innovation. And profit.

If you’re small and you want to get big – or bigger – the problem you’re always confronting is and will be money. There’s not enough. At least not in your own bank account. And, chances are, your bank isn’t going to be all that willing to help you out.

And if you’re big and you want to get bigger, the problem is finding the new thinking that will take your enterprise all the places you know it can go – but can’t seem to find on its own.

The good news is, you’re both looking – hard – for the other side of your particular equation.

The better news is, you’re both out there.

Now go find each other.

For more insight from Leslie L. Kossoff, follow her blog, The Thinking Executive.

Tags: fund management , innovation funding
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