This article will dig deeper into the Accelerator which is one of the three Engagement Programs in the CampX innovation model, other articles deep dive into the Incubator as well as the Venture Builder.
The CampX Accelerator's success story is anchored in the venture client model, reinforced by a comprehensive framework that brings focus, traction, and empowerment to our Volvo Group colleagues. 70+ PoV projects with different startups the last three years has been done all with the purpose to validate their solution giving the startup the best possible customer validation. To ensure fruitful collaborations with startups that create value from both ends, we have implemented fundamental principles and tools.
Three steps to accelerate innovation
Our Accelerator program follows a structured three-step process: Explore, Validate, and Launch with the Volvo Group product owner as a gatekeeper.
Explore: First we identify challenges and opportunities within our organization, fostering engagement throughout the process. We embrace the 80/20 rule, where 80% of cases originate from clear challenges from the organization and 20% are more opportunistic. This balance ensures sustained engagement and focus as well as enables only the projects that truly add value to our organizations.
Validate: Our focus in the validation phase is to run projects that validate solutions within the Volvo Group context. The projects are limited to 3-6 months, with a carefully defined scope to enable the startups to take the lead, ensuring speed and minimize the risk of delays and other complications.
Launch: The final step involves integrating and commercializing the solution and as there's no “one-size-fits-all” approach, as it depends on the nature of the solution, we tailor our strategy. Hardware solutions often come with more dependencies and complexities, while software solutions are typically more straightforward. Customized approaches and identifying key stakeholders who can support critical decisions are crucial for successful commercialization.
This three-step approach mirrors many innovation processes, but we also incorporate four unique elements crucial for the success of a corporate accelerator that we will highlight below.
Empowering the right people crucial for success
In the complex landscape of industries like automotive, deep technical expertise and profound customer insights are indispensable. It's essential to ensure that the right individuals with the necessary competencies are committed or there is a high risk that startup collaboration projects dissolve after the initial project start.
By empowering the product and business owners we clearly see an increased engagement which is crucial when running startup innovation projects. The product and business owners are the people in the organizations responsible for a specific area e.g. a component, roadmap or a solution. Our experience is that engaged and skilled people are always the driver of the most successful cases.
The purpose of startup collaboration projects is to support product and business owners to develop new and/or better products. These projects are an excellent way to explore cutting edge solutions and commercialize the one’s that have the right strategic fit.
Proof of Value - The customer value in focus
When initiating projects with startups, the focus should be on validating specific challenges or opportunities identified to stay aligned with the larger company vision. However, innovation departments often embark on projects driven solely by the allure of cutting-edge technologies, losing sight of their core purpose.
“Even though we want many initiatives, every initiative needs a hypothesis and a clear purpose - what do we want to achieve and prove?” – Volvo Group Product Owner using the CampX Accelerator
Therefore, instead of performing Proof of Concept (PoC), we lay emphasis on Proof of Value (PoV), a small but very crucial distinction. Proof of Value projects ensure persistent value delivery, enhancing the chances of long-term success with clarity and transparency when defining the project objectives.
Another vital aspect of proof of Value projects is visualizing the path to market introduction. Keeping the possibility of market entry in mind helps maintain focus on pivotal topics that can make a significant difference in the end. Our aim is always to strive for the highest possible success.
Speed and Simplicity – Our guiding principle
Speed and simplicity by streamlining governance, processes, decision-making and project execution benefits from reduced complexity and quicker momentum and our governance and processes are continuously revised and refined to match the pace of the startups. Delegating decision-making authority to individuals with the right technical and business expertise accelerates the process and enhances engagement. By structuring projects to be short and centered on clear Proof of Value, we minimize risks and allow decisions to be made at the product and business owner levels. The sweet spot of right level of quality assurance instead of imposing overly rigid processes to mitigate risk.
Trust, Empowerment and Transparency
Working in rapidly evolving technical domains demands trust and empowerment, enabling individuals to make critical decisions and take actions in a corporate Accelerator. We consistently empower our technology and business experts, providing them with opportunities to grow and lead in their areas of responsibility. We lean towards openness in almost everything like meetings, document storage, or projects as few things are genuinely sensitive or classified.
We clearly see that when people are empowered, they go the extra mile. We observe product owners returning to us wanting to do more. Trust, empowerment, and, of course, the value we create drive this behavior.
At Volvo Group, our Accelerator program is not just a testament to our commitment to innovation but a proven model for catalyzing growth, both for us and the startups we collaborate with. By adhering to our core principles and embracing a flexible yet disciplined approach, we continue to pave the way for a brighter future in technology and business.
Read more about the CampX by Volvo Group Engagement programs on the CampX webpage.