Fernando Fischmann

How can large corporations encourage innovation?

19 August, 2014 / Articles

If the UK is to export £1tn of services and goods – as George Osborne has targeted – entrepreneurialism must be encouraged. But how can big companies foster this mentality?

Think of entrepreneurialism and we tend to think small. Not in terms of ambition – Richard Branson and James Dyson, anyone? – but in terms of organisation. The plucky inventor persuading the steely investors on Dragons’ Den, the tech startup run from a teenager’s bedroom, the savvy saleswoman who spies a gap in the market – they’re all out there on their own, able to react at lightning speed and think big, unlimited by processes, procedures and traditions.

But can entrepreneurialism thrive within big companies? That was the question a panel of industry experts gathered to discuss at a Guardian seminar, which was sponsored by the Marketing Agencies Association (MAA). Scott Knox, managing director of the MAA, introduced the evening by posing the following questions: with many of the UK’s best marketing agencies already working on major business challenges, how can they support this commercial agenda further? What do brands, corporations and agencies need to be doing to be at the sharp end of entrepreneurial thinking and innovation?

The debate took place in front of an audience of about 100 media and marketing movers and shakers, from sectors ranging from internet services to telecommunications, and was chaired by Dan Milmo, deputy business and consumer editor at the Guardian. A panel of experts debated the central question before opening the session up to audience comment.

There’s no doubt that capturing this entrepreneurial spirit is essential for UKplc, said Milmo in his introduction. “George Osbourne has targeted £1tn in exports for the UK economy – services and goods – by 2020,” he pointed out. “If we’re going to achieve that – and it’s a long way off, as that’s a doubling of where we are now – then we need to be different. We need to be entrepreneurial, and that’s going to take a lot of hard work.”




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