Perhaps the biggest developments in corporate innovation over the last 5 years has been the rise of Accelerator programs. In Norway, Innovation Lab helped one of the biggest banks build a comprehensive startup program which led to the adoption and investment of a $100 million startup technology company.
For decades, incubators and accelerators were the domain of government-sponsored programs that were loosely coupled with the industry. Today, professional Accelerators are combining the muscle of big industry with the agility of startups to bring fundamentally new products to market. For Sparebank 1 SR-Bank, it started as a mere CSR initiative, focusing on helping early-stage entrepreneurs craft their ideas in search for a sustainable business model. However, that quickly changed when an A.I team joined the cohort and went on to build the world most sophisticated chat-bots with the bank as it’s first customer. The startup, Boost.ai, is now the fastest-growing startup in Norway, with a valuation of over $100 million.
Building a value-adding Accelerator program is inherently difficult because it fundamentally requires corporations to do something that goes against traditional corporate wisdom: openly sharing their problems, allowing outsiders to access their network, and engaging with their local entrepreneurship ecosystem with a zero-sum attitude. In Norway, Innovation Lab helped one of the biggest banks – Sparebank1 SR-Bank – build a comprehensive startup program which led to the adoption and investment of a $100 million startup technology company. Specifically, we challenged the bank on things like; who in your organization will show up for this? How will this fit into the overall ecosystem, and how do we create value together with other initiatives and programs that are already running? What can we offer that will make this program stand out from all the other programs and accelerators? How do form partnerships and alliances with service providers (and in some cases, even competitors) to get access to the right competence, knowledge, and networks needed by startups? And how do we create content and modules that solve real problems for startups?
Specifically, for Sparebank1 SR-Bank we helped set up:
- The team: Program staff + leader roles + bank representatives
- What will it cost: Program operating budgets + sustainability models + facilitator fees
- Partnerships: Building and sustaining alliances with service providers
- Mentors: How to find them, how to keep them and when to fire them
- Startup communities: How to engage your local ecosystem to sustain growth for your program
- Deal flow: Attracting and recruiting startups and selecting the right ones
- Running a program: Topics to cover and methods for guiding companies
- Investment: Follow-up on funds, demo days and term sheets
As chief architects and facilitators since 2015, Innovation Lab has helped forge perhaps the most comprehensive startup program – Gründerhub – in Norway with over 100 participating companies so far. The program is active in three major cities and runs in collaboration with MiT using the ‘Disciplined Entrepreneurship’ framework with a strong focus on customer centricity and crafting sustainable business models.
Grunderhub helped push us to where we needed to be as a company, and it has made a world differenceKaroline Sjødal Olsen, CEO Blue Lice (Program Participant)