The Closet of Interesting Ideas: Where Does Innovation Reside in Your Organization?

Where do innovative ideas reside in your organization? Being driven into market by your passionate innovation teams? Stuck in a “closet of interesting ideas?” Swirling in a whirlwind of activity that goes nowhere? Many healthcare organizations desire to infuse a robust innovation culture into their organizations that can rapidly take their great ideas and turn them into successful new businesses. Unfortunately, many of those innovation processes lead worthy ideas into a black hole resulting in frustrated “creators” and dampened enthusiasm for innovation.

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Truly disruptive innovation has never been an easy job. Along the journey of bringing a breakthrough to market there are many pitfalls that can quickly strand the new venture, investment and innovation spirit of those leading the project inside the corporate walls. Within Global Innovation, there is no lack of investment. The world’s largest corporations spent $680Bn on R&D in 2016 and that spend has been growing at almost 5 percent a year over the last 11 years[1]. This innovation spend results in the creation and investment in thousands of ideas.

Unfortunately, there is no relationship between R&D budget and corporate performance and many great ideas get stranded inside corporates, never to be experienced by the target consumer.

Some of the reasons for this waste include:

  • Change of corporate strategy
  • Poor communication of the technology benefits and consumer relevance
  • Too disruptive to fit within a corporate’s product portfolio
  • Lack or loss of internal champion
  • Inability to scale the innovation across the organization
  • Change in leadership
  • Inability to exploit the IP within existing business and no incentive to license
  • Shorter term, lower risk projects given higher priority
  • Corporate bureaucracy and/or turf wars
  • Complex innovation processes stalling the opportunity
  • Innovation before its time

The stranded ideas are often market disruptors that do not fit neatly into the current corporate framework, are farther from the core or disruptive to the current product portfolio. To bring these ideas to market, the corporate has to navigate the triple challenge of:

  • Iterating the business models and technologies required for the new venture
  • Simultaneously evolving the capabilities needed in the core business and building the new capabilities required for the venture
  • Successfully balancing ‘What you already have’ with ‘What you will need in the future and how you will get there'

As a result, transformational technologies and early-stage ventures are deserted in what is known as the ‘Valley of Death', a place where great ideas, millions of dollars, hard work and innovation passion languish.

An estimated 1/5 to 1/3 or $140 to $250Bn worth of these investments become stranded. Abandoning investment and moving along has become common and accepted by many organizations as the ‘cost of innovation’.

Not all stranded ideas are worthy of being launched—some are halted for good reason. But many are funded longer than they should be and contribute to wasted spend. Abandoning non-viable ideas earlier in the innovation process can unlock valuable innovation resources and redeploy them towards accelerating viable new ventures to market. On the other side of the coin, if the stranded innovation is truly viable, valuable and financeable, then billions of dollars in revenue are being left in the corporate file cabinet. This is the real opportunity cost of stranded innovation. At an IRR of 20 percent or a multiple of 3X, a staggering $750Bn per year or 2 trillion dollars over a five-year period is locked in the 'Valley of Death'.


A new enterprise discipline, venture management, is required to extract the value from these stranded opportunities. Venture management increases ROI on Innovation investment by transforming stranded assets into revenue-generating vehicles and eliminating ideas that are not viable, valuable and financeable before over-investment.

Venture management is a multi-disciplinary innovation approach that consists of specific compentcies for monetizing, de-risking and accelerating innovation.

5 Core Comptetencies of Venture Management

Venture management organizations:

  1. Originate and Validate: identify and validate the viability of early-stage technology
  2. Generate: monetize stranded assets
  3. Commercialize: develop and execute ‘Go To Market’ plans and new entities for pilot testing innovation prior to full-scale launch
  4. Accelerate: source collaborative partners and co-investment required for undercapitalized products and portfolios to achieve their full potential
  5. Create: build a systematic ‘disciplined entrepreneurialism’ culture of innovation that accelerates value capture from IP, early-stage technology, incubators and start-ups.

GE Healthcare Partners and Pilot Lite Ventures have a specialized toolkit consisting of 7 proprietary capabilities spanning from ‘originate’ to ‘create’ that we utilize to help organizations successfully implement venture management.

Proprietary Capabilities.png

Implementing venture management is not easy. Many aspects of the methodology are a significant departure from traditional innovation approaches and it takes time for the organization to embrace this capability. With patience and persistence, practicing venture management reduces wasted investment, captures latent value in stranded ventures and accelerates the path to market for innovation. Through our venture management process, we boast innovation success rates 2.5 times that of leading investment firms and 10 times better than corporate venture capital.


This leads to the obvious question of what to do next. The right approach for many organizations is to look in the mirror and assess how impactful their innovation agendas and processes has been to the bottom-line. If organizational spend and effort significantly outweigh market results than it is likely you have a lot of stranded or soon to be stranded innovation within your corporate walls. Many of those projects are worthy of another look and have significant market value that can be recaptured and invested into new programs. Other ideas are headed to the ‘Valley of Death’ but can be course corrected to a viable path to market before the innovation becomes deserted. This is a perfect opportunity for a venture management pilot that can help you reset your innovation culture to a systematic ‘disciplined entrepreneurialism’ approach that accelerates value capture and shareholder impact from your innovation investment. Don’t let your innovation desires fall into the closet of interesting ideas. 

[1] 2016 Global Innovation 1000, PWC October 2016. The Global Innovation 1000 represent ~ 40% of Global Innovation R&D spend.
Venture Validation, GE Healthcare Partners

This article underpins a major market presentation given by Dave Behringer, CEO of PilotLite Ventures (PLV) USA at the recent IFT conference in Las Vegas. PLV is a strategic partner of GE Healthcare Partners and with them, we offer the same Venture Management capability to our clients.