San Francisco, December 28th 2022 – If accelerators are increasingly being reconsidered, and Venture Builders are on the rise, the Venture Client model remains the most adopted tool to engage with startups. That’s what the world’s open innovation leaders say.

This is one of the main pieces of evidence from the “Open Innovation Outlook 2023 – Macro-trends for 2023 in Corporate-Startup Engagement” Report released by Mind the Bridge today.

The report represents the views and opinions of about 50 senior innovation leaders, the so-called “Corporate Startup Stars” that have been awarded last December in London as part of the CSS Awards 2022, organized by Mind the Bridge with the support of ICC – International Chamber of Commerce.

Innovation tools and initiatives used are constantly evolving. Venture Client and Corporate Venture Capital are now the mainstream way to do open innovation at least for Fortune 500 companies. The decline of the Corporate Accelerator model is another visible trend.” commented Alberto Onetti, Chairman of Mind the Bridge.

The models

  • According to the survey, 97% of senior innovation leaders do use Venture Client for addressing their innovation needs (specifically challenges coming from business units and core business, Horizon1 in jargon) while the remaining 3% is planning to implement it shortly.
  • CVC is adopted by 92% of the companies, with a primary focus on H2 and H3 innovations (adjacent and disruptive).
  • Innovation Outposts and Antennas are deployed by 80% of the companies,
  • Intrapreneurship programs are run by 70% of the respondents.
  • 75% engage in startup M&A, although this remains more an occasional activity, rather than a structured path of action.
  • Startup Accelerators are now used only by 61% of the companies with 11% planning to dismiss/downsize (and only 6% to introduce).
  • 67% are using Venture Builders, even though 11% are considering downsizing it, with an additional 22% planning to introduce it.

The barriers

  • Internal (procedural and cultural): rigid internal processes (according to 50% of the respondents) and a perceived corporate culture of risk aversion (47%).
    28% lamented having limited resources to support startups.
  • External: the pandemic is not considered a blocking factor anymore. Innovation leaders are more worried about the current economic situation, the general climate of political uncertainty at global scale and the potential (negative) impact of legislation and regulation, both at national and supranational level.

The Innovation Budgets

In 2022 only 3% of the Corporate Startup Stars cut their spending in open innovation, and for 2023 only 6% are planning cuts. 32% will increase their innovation budget by the same percentage as the previous year while 62% plan to maintain the same level of spending.

The Tech Hubs

Silicon Valley and Top European Hubs are the main geographies where top innovation leaders look for startups (80-90% of the respondents). Israel, the East Coast (New York and Boston) are the other “must have” locations, with 60-65% of the companies already active in these regions and 17% and 11% planning to be there. New, emerging hubs (Latin America, China, and India) are increasingly becoming attractive with 39-42% currently approached and additional 10-12% interested in approaching these areas in the future, while MENA and South Korea, currently approached by approximately 33% of the respondents, are in the future plans of about 17-22% of innovation leaders.

The new years’ resolutions

We asked innovation executives what keeps them up at night and what are their top 3 priorities for 2023?

Sustainability, including climate and decarbonization, is almost universally mentioned as a focus area. Many are struggling to extract results from existing open innovation initiatives, get more coordination and alignment both with business units and R&D, and improve cultural change towards open innovation.

Though concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic appear to be now a thing of the past, the current economic climate and political uncertainty at a global scale drive a relatively cautious approach by innovation leaders – ended Alberto Onetti -. That said, good companies do not cut innovation. Innovation budgets didn’t take a hit in 2022 nor will do in 2023”.