Large Companies Embrace Innovation "Speed Dating" P&G and Others Use Unique Method to Connect with Entrepreneurs for New Product Ideas

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Large companies known for innovation -- such as the Procter & Gamble Company , GlaxoSmithKline, and Kimberly-Clark -- are using an ingenious approach called "Innovation Speed Dating" to generate new ideas and connect with entrepreneurs.

Michael Docherty, Founder, Venture2

I will admit that of all the ways we connect and develop, speed dating may be the most unusual

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Companies like The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE: PG) that are known for robust product development and strong new product innovation programs are borrowing from a social phenomenon to find new ideas: the speed date.

The innovation speed dating format for business shares similarities with romantic speed dating: rapid-paced, non-committal introductory sessions, followed by more in-depth sessions or a "second date". However, instead of trying to match romance-minded partners, innovation speed dating events bring together large companies, and/or their partners, (the innovation seekers) to meet with a group of entrepreneurs (the innovation providers) to see what opportunities exist and what business relationships might develop.

"I will admit that of all the ways we connect and develop, speed dating may be the most unusual," said Tom Cripe, P&G's associate director of external business development. "But so far it has been very effective in identifying opportunities that we might not uncover otherwise. Speed dating helps us start relationships with entrepreneurs that may well grow into licensing agreements and new products."

Other leading companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Kimberly-Clark have also benefited from this unique approach.

Michael Docherty, CEO of open innovation services firm Venture2, created the innovation speed dating approach to help fill the voracious innovation needs of large companies by connecting them with inventors, while, in turn, giving entrepreneurs hard-to-come-by access to corporate decision makers. Docherty said he experienced the creative chasm that exists for large companies when he led product development for Sunbeam.

"Innovation is the source of real business growth.    And multi-national corporations need to innovate to keep up with the rapid pace of changing technology and changing consumer demands. Forward thinking companies, recognize that to find the best new ideas, you need to continue to innovate with your open innovation processes," Docherty said.

Innovation Speed Dating benefits both leading companies and entrepreneurs. It is based on a rigorous global technology scouting effort that is designed to maximize the chance of great matches being made. The dating events themselves create a level playing field that helps to build relationships between large companies who are seeking innovation and the entrepreneurs who are creating it.

Click to download the white paper, "Lessons Learned from Innovation Speed Dating".

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