The need to adopt digital technologies is forcing companies to re-think their approach to corporate innovation. For several decades, starting in the 1960s, innovation was concentrated in R&D centers at large firms, which gave those firms a competitive advantage in setting the direction of innovation and harvesting its benefits. However, starting in the 1990s, this model began to be disrupted by the confluence of new digital technologies, venture capital and increasingly-fast consumer adoption of new technologies. Companies started to build innovation ecosystems that evolved into an “open innovation” model. This was particularly valuable because many digital technologies are general- purpose, and thus the best experts are often outside the firm, and in other industries.
As new digital technologies are introduced at ever-faster rates, there will increasingly be opportunities to capture new markets and unseat incumbents. For large corporations, this scenario is double-edged; while they have an opportunity to unseat others, they also face the risk of being unseated themselves.
Digital technologies don’t just threaten large corporations, they can also be a source of immense value-creation. Thus, since adoption rates for new technologies have accelerated in recent decades, there is increased potential for rapid value-creation and value-capture for firms that can bring innovative solutions to market.
Any CTO or Innovation Leader will be very familiar with the follow- ing question from the CEO. It goes something like “You know I’m fully committed to innovation... but is all of our investment really necessary? Our competitors seem to be growing as fast as us, yet they spend less of their revenue on R&D than we do. Can you assure me that we’re really getting the best return on our innova- tion spend?”
What might seem at first sight to be a straightforward question can be quite difficult to answer. There are numerous complications around what we really mean by ‘Innovation’, ‘Investment’ and ‘Return’, and indeed what effective management means in this context, such as:
What should we include and exclude in ‘innovation investment?’
What types of value do we care about?
Which methods should we use to assess value?
What’s the best way to communicate the results?
In this article we explore the challenges of managing the Return On Investment (ROI) of innovation, and provide some examples of good practice and key factors for success.
If you are interested in this article, please go here: https://www.adlittle.com/sites/default/files/prism/ROI.PDF
If you want to learn on corporate innovation, please check out our webinar materials "Driving corporate innovation in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities".
On 23rd March 2021, the AEIP together with Laura Macdonald, Chief Executive of the ASTP knowledge transfer network, organised a webinar "Why Intellectual Property matters, from African tech hub perspective".
During the conversation, Laura presented a range of activities delivered by ASTP, and the value for knowledge transfer professionals in collaborating through the network approach. In addition, one of ASTPs African members shared experience working with the network. Participants of the webinar were offered the possibility to obtain a temporary digital membership to ASTP platform free of cost.
The recording of the webinar is available below. If you want to see the presentation slides used during the webinar, please click Download button below.
The entrepreneurial solutions developed today are leveraging innovations to help stabilize the effects of the pandemic. EU|BICs have a long history in supporting founders and innovation-based startups. From their origins till today, EU|BICs have delivered on their original mandate: to drive regional economic development. EU|BICs remain catalysts for entrepreneurship and innovation, providing tailored support services to entrepreneurs according to their needs, challenges and stages of development.
In 2019, EU|BICs actively supported close to 21,000 companies and helped enterprises create close to 20,000 jobs. However, like any other business, the global pandemic is forcing business support organisations and the support services they provide to be open to change. While the role of support organisations remains relevant during the present coronavirus pandemic, one key question is: how will the Covid-19 crisis shape the future of incubation and business counselling?
While it is hard to predict the future, we can try to understand what lies ahead by analysing current trends. EBN, in collaboration with the CAST network, has recently promoted a survey among business support organisations collecting data on the challenges faced as a consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak. By analysing the data, we were able to identify key solutions to guarantee business continuity.
On the 27th of January 2021, the AEIP, in partnership with the Ventures Platform, organised a webinar “Startup fundraising and Preparing tech hub managers to be Financial Mentors”. This webinar is a follow-up from the training provided by the AEIP in June 2020 “Acceleration innovation in times of crisis”. Preparing Hub managers to be financial Mentors and understanding what a financial mentor is. The topics which have been discussed during the webinar include:
On the 26th of January 2021, the AEIP, in partnership with F360, organised a webinar for tech hub representatives and policy makers. The webinar focused on how to promote female entrepreneurship through tech hub support, building capacities of tech hubs and startups to ensure gender equity.
Participants explored different themes of gender equalisation in the African tech space (including the drivers and challenges). The key questions which have been discussed are the following:
The Africa-Europe Innovation Partnership fifth event (AEIP Event 5) integrated a new cohort of 11 African and 11 European tech hubs (cohort 2) that have yet to participate in any of the AEIP networking events. In addition, 9 (cohort 1) tech hubs (5 from Africa and 4 from Europe) were invited to this networking event due to their active involvement in the AEIP tech hub cleantech challenge as well as their continued engagement and collaborative activities with tech hubs in the network.
The goal of this networking event was to support participating tech hubs to internationalise faster and gain a deeper understanding of the innovation ecosystems in Africa or Europe, respectively. The programme focused on interactions between tech hub participants through joint plenaries and breakout sessions, with the AEIP team monitoring discussions and facilitating as needed. The tech hubs were matched to counterparts from the other region and placed in breakout rooms during the event in order for them to get to develop and outline envisaged collaborative activities they could collaborate on i.e., form soft-landing partnerships, exchange on best practices, apply for joint funding opportunities, and connect to startups from the other continent.
Following the launching of the H2020 Africa Green Deal call by the European Commission, the AEIP organised a series of webinars to enlighten innovation actors from Africa and Europe on the benefits of participating in a H2020 call as well as on the specifics of the Green Deal Africa Call.
The first webinar took place on 1st December 2020. It was attended by over 40 organisations, mostly from Africa. The webinar informed participants about the application procedure for the H2020 calls, advised on how to build a consortia and provided insights into specifics of the H2020 calls. The presentation of the Green Deal Africa call was given by two Senior Officials of the European commission: Dr. Piero Venturi, Science Counsellor to the African Union, Delegation of the European Union to the African Union; and Philippe Schild, European Commission, DG RTD.
Combined presentations of experts for the workshop series on "Accelerating Innovation in times of crisis: a tech hub effort"
Following the workshop series organised by the Africa Europe Innovation Partnership (AEIP) and VC4A on the 8th, 11th and 15th of June 2020 to African tech hubs, the attached material contains the presentations made by the different experts during the online workshops.
The training targeted African tech hubs that offer acceleration services, and sought to enhance the hubs capacities to offer sustainable and effective acceleration programs despite the covid-19 crisis. The objectives of the training included:
The WAZIHUB project, funded by the European Commission under H2020 program, was designed to exploit IoT potential and Big-Data technologies best-practices through the involvement of innovators. The project aims to enable the creation of a network of Open Hubs throughout Africa where:
1. Entrepreneurs and developers can be trained,
2. Innovative IoT technology solutions can be adapted,
3. New business can rise to match local service needs.
Training material from the second AEIP event: Supporting innovative entrepreneurship in Francophone Africa
The second AEIP event was held on the 2nd - 5th December 2019 in Marseille, France. During that event the capacity upgrading training on building sustainable business models for tech hubs was provided.
Participants of the training gained practical insights in the following areas:
• Matching the tech hub support services with the entrepreneurs and startups’ needs over time
• Fundraising for tech hubs
• Sourcing projects and entrepreneurs
The booklet of Africa-Europe Innovation Partnership presents activities and importance of the initiative for both continents. It outlines the AEIP approach and innovation system strategy to build on the strongest potential of new partnerships and collaboration. Have a look at testimonies of participants and stakeholders involved! In order to access the booklet please download the file below.
Call for Applications: International Mentoring for Technology Businesses with a focus on Female Empowerment
enpact e.V. will run a new 8-month mentoring programme for technology businesses from Africa and Europe. The programme aims to strengthen technology focus and foster international partnerships between technology businesses from Africa and Europe.
It is another initiative under the Strategic Partnership Digital Africa (SPDA) - a network of the German development cooperation and over 200 European companies with the aim to initiate innovative public-private projects in African countries - funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and coordinated by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The programme target group are businesses with a
special focus on the support of women, either directly (with special programmes targeting women as employees on all levels - especially in executive positions) or indirectly with products and services that are especially designed for women empowerment.
The programme offers coaching and mentoring for founders by international mentors to strengthen their business model, growth strategy, roadmap, international network and partnerships. 15 companies will be selected to participate in the programme, which will include:
The population boom in West African countries is bringing more and more young people into a labor market that cannot yet absorb them. Many of these young people are now turning to entrepreneurship as a source of employment. This, however, often takes the form of subsistence and informal entrepreneurship.
Unlike growth and innovative entrepreneurship, this form of entrepreneurship is not capable of generating sustainable jobs and therefore cannot act as an engine for economic development.
Innovative entrepreneurship is proven to be a determining factor of growth: it stimulates productivity, creates jobs and helps improve citizens’ quality of life. So-called ‘growth entrepreneurs’ are the drivers behind this innovation and they contribute to their countries’ economic and social development. As Joseph Schumpeter once said, ”innovation is the driving force of economic progress, and entrepreneurs are the agents of innovation.”
Academic paper on the Introduction to supporting entrepreneurs through the lenses of academic research. Article writen by Didier Chabaud, Karim Messeghem, Sylvie Sammut and available in French language only.
After encouraging the creation of companies based on the results of public research, the challenge for public authorities is now more to grow these companies to benefit the national economy from their high potential. This article examines the role that support can play in the growth of these businesses. It draws on the analysis of ten years of operation of a public incubator, Languedoc-Roussillon Incubation, to propose avenues for action. Article is available in French language only.
Academic paper on the entrepreneur-support structure relationship through various theoretical models from management sciences
This contribution offers a modelization of the entrepreneurial accompanying relation with a focus on players'games and intersubjectivity which are constitutive elements of the accompanying relation. Critical configurations which restrict nascent entrepreneur's learning capability are described. The article is only available in French language.
Toolkit for Business Incubators in developing countries and training materials consisting of the following modules:
- Business Incubation Definitions and Principles
- Planning an Incubator
- Marketing and Stakeholder Management
- Financing an Incubator
- Managing the Incubator
- Monitoring, Evaluation and Benchmarking
- Implementing a Mentoring Program
- Deals and Financing for the Incubator Clients
- Technology Commercialization Through Incubation
- Setting up Virtual Services
- Agribusiness Incubation
Analysis of the business incubator and their ecosystem.
Report concerning promotion of best practices for business incubators in growing new businesses. In particular, the report analyses which activities and services are of most added-value to startups.
One of the main deliverable of the Cleantech Incubation Europe (CIE) INTERREG IVC project is this handbook aiming to share best practices from the incubation of cleantech start-ups across Europe to foster entrepreneurship and the green economy.
Start-up Guide for Incubator Developers detailing issues faced by SMEs, reasons for business incubation and various models for business incubators.