Why Workero is committed to Innovation
As experts in managing and operating workspaces, we at Workero make it our mission to create great spaces in which people want to work and collaborate with each other. A corporate accelorator has been integral to achieving this goal.
Initially, our mission was exclusively carried out in the form of opening up coworking spaces all over Belgium – whether in partnership with our sister corporation, Interoffices, or with other businesses such as Sapico, Decathlon, Audience Advantage and others.
What we discovered was that these companies wanted to invite other persons, freelancers, or companies into their office spaces, because they knew that interactions with others expanded their horizons. Most of our partners value openness, knowledge-sharing, and innovation: this led us to think of even better ways in which we could bring people and businesses together.
When people work together, their worlds expand.
The outcome of this was that in addition to opening coworking spaces all over Belgium – and eventually Europe – Workero would also open accelerator programmes built around corporates.
These corporate accelerator programmes would be based on the principle of creating an ecosystem where every involved party, from startups to the corporate, could grow together by forming symbiotic relationships.
These corporate accelerator programmes are coworking writ large if you will.
Smaller businesses can open their offices and organically come into contact with other people and businesses, in the process sharing ideas and even collaborating. A corporate ecosystem is much the same, except that due to their size, corporates often need considerable help managing their shared workspaces. Most importantly, corporates – due to their rigid structures – need help connecting with the businesses and individuals occupying their coworking spaces. This is where Workero plays an important role and where Workero’s corporate accelerator programme took root.
What is a corporate accelerator?
A corporate accelerator is (usually an intensive) startup programme run by a corporation to develop and accelerate the growth of startup companies in a specific industry. It is a great opportunity for startups to learn best practices and make connections with leaders in the industry. Corporate accelerators are generalist programmes that provide startups with a large number of mentors and advisors who are experts in their specific industry.
For startups, these corporate accelerators are a great way to learn and grow. In addition to connecting startups with mentors, joining a corporate accelerator programme also gives startups access to infrastructure, prototyping facilities, and funding opportunities. A corporate accelerator could also give startups the chance to run pilot projects with their corporate partner and perhaps even to collaborate with other startups or scale-ups in the programme.
On the other hand, for corporations, it is a good way to gain the loyalty and interest of startups in their industry. Corporate venturing accelerates growth through collaboration with startups. This can help them to attract the best talent and improve their products and services.
Workero’s corporate accelerator programme is much the same since we actively build bridges between corporates and other businesses such as startups, spin-offs, and scale-ups.
However, Workero’s corporate accelerator is distinct in that:
- we take an ecosystem-based approach: it is important to us that all parties benefit from the corporate accelerator programme,
- we build lasting communities and grow long-term relationships between all members that are part of our accelerator programmes, whether it is virtually or through co-location,
- we encourage partnerships and innovation between corporation and startup companies as equal parties (thus no equity is demanded in return for growth),
- we make sure to connect startups to mentors relevant to their field of expertise, and likewise we scout startups relevant to each corporate’s needs,
- our programmes are tailor-made to fit each corporate’s needs,
- and our focus is particularly on innovation and value creation in the field of sustainability.
How does Workero help corporates innovate?
Large and established corporations make no secret of the fact that they tend to have more rigid and structured cultures. The approach of following tried-and-tested processes and protocol is partly responsible for corporates’ massive and continuous successes, but it does, however, sometimes get in the way of innovation.
One way for corporates to innovate is for them to step into a more agile and lean mindset. One of the best ways to do this is to rub shoulders with exactly the types of companies that embody agility and innovation at their very cores: startups, scale-ups, and spin-offs.
Yet, this is easier said than done.
While corporates might want to work with these kinds of innovative companies, there are several barriers that prevent them from working together.
Workero sets up and maintains both physical and virtual open innovation environments
One of the barriers to co-location or any form of co-creation is that startups and similar companies are apprehensive about entering into any kind of coworking or collaboration with corporates. Some fear that it will be an unequal relationship and that corporates will simply run off with startups’ ideas, under-appreciate them and not give due recognition to them, or that corporates will impose their business decisions and bureaucracy on them, or simply that there will be no seeing eye-to-eye on important matters.
But such thinking is not entirely justified. Established companies are by now well aware that innovation isn’t something one can ‘do’ only once or something that one can superficially and conveniently ‘add’ to one’s existing business repertoire. It wouldn’t benefit corporates in the long-term to run off with other people’s ideas, nor would it benefit them to remain static and unadaptable.
We have truly entered an age that Seth Godin calls the connection economy: it’s all about who you know, but above all about who is able to trust you and who you have access to.
Corporates want long-term benefits, such as acquiring the know-how and culture of being innovative (no need to believe us, take a look at where corporates put their money. Acquiring an innovative company culture is not something that can be done by management mandating it from the top-down. Instead, it is something that can be learnt in long-term collaboration with others.
Not only is working with startups beneficial for corporate culture, but corporates also know that innovation stems from knowledge generation and exchange between people from different backgrounds, functions, and disciplines.
Without these relationships and the time and space to connect, the all-important activities of generating and sharing novel knowledge cannot take place. Innovating doesn’t only require creativity and problem solving; it also requires interactions between different people in relationships of trust.
That is why Workero places such a strong emphasis on connecting people – whether physically or virtually. We know that when people meet, innovative thinking has a higher chance of occurring, especially when long-term relationships and friendships have been formed. With our expertise in co-location and connecting people, as well as with the help and know-how of our ever-growing network of partners, Workero is adept at setting up and maintaining innovation-conducive environments.
Workero creates corporate startup accelerators with an emphasis on long-term collaboration
Helping corporates form long-term relationships with startups (in both virtual and physical spaces) is what sets Workero’s corporate accelerator model apart from more traditional accelerator programmes.
We believe in taking the time, in thinking long-term, and in establishing networks that will endure. This is radically different from traditional accelerator programmess that only extend membership to startups for a year or two.
We strongly believe that the best corporate accelerators of the future will be the ones that put less emphasis on short-term (and often short-lived) gains, and more emphasis on long-term collaborations and a strong culture of continuous knowledge-sharing.
This shifting attitude in the corporate world and in innovation studies also reflects what is going on in the world at large.
Workero’s ultimate goal is a better world for all of us.
Creating sustainable products and services, encouraging sustainable patterns of consumption, and bringing a circular economy into being has never been more urgent than now. Companies, governments, researchers, and other institutions are increasingly working together to solve the ultra-complex challenges of climate change. This way of working is something that will continue.
Here at Workero, we want people to see and approach the world differently. Long before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we encouraged people to rethink the way they worked and lived; we want to change the office landscape into something more human, humane, and even more logical. We want people to share office spaces in a way that made more sense for the environment. Why not work from a colocation or coworking space close to home and save both your time and be lighter on the environment? Why not make office spaces the kinds of places where people want to escape to in order to connect with each other?
It is for this reason that Workero’s corporate accelerator programmes have a strong focus on sustainability and Green Digital technologies. Along with our partner companies working in these fields, our aim is to be at the forefront of making the practices of innovation and co-location not only sustainable in themselves, but also to contribute to bringing people who care about the environment together in more efficient ways in order to fast-track innovation.
Summary: How Workero’s corporate accelerators work
Workero manages corporate innovation accelerators by:
- Depending on the corporate and the kind of innovation they are seeking/innovation challenges they are facing, we look for startups and other businesses that are a good match.
- We tailor the accelerator programme to the involved members’ needs.
- Workero continuously arranges and promotes social events, talks, and pitching events in order to bring the corporate closer to both its co-locating and virtual startups.
- Workero streamlines communication and gathers information on what the startup members of the specific corporate accelerator might need.
- We ensure that the right people with complementary skills or knowledge, or the necessary expertise, meet for faster innovation and potential partner projects.
- Workero’s corporate accelerator programmess are centred around the principles of co-creation, knowledge-sharing, and innovating together. It is informed by the principle of building an ecosystem where every member can grow and flourish.
- Workero connects corporates and startups with the important aim of finding as many sustainable solutions to problems as fast as possible.
- Setting up a virtual environment and virtual events for your corporate accelerator.
- Running the the virtual space and activities at a high standard.
- Alternatively, or as a complement to the virtual environment and activities, we set up co-location space(s) in the corporates offices or campuses. This includes running the booking engine through which other companies/individuals can book seats, offices, or meeting rooms at the corporate’s offices, and managing the office space a a very high standard.
Take a look at the Workero by Procter & Gamble Corporate Accelerator for an example of the kind of environment you’ll find yourself in when joining our accelerator network.
Are you a startup and interested in joining one of Workero’s corporate accelerator programmes, then click here.
Interested in ecosystem innovation or launching a corporate accelerator programme?
Click here for more info or to get in touch. We’re be happy to help and show you the many ways you can go about it.