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Why Investing in Entrepreneurs is a Smart Innovation Strategy

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Sikorsky's Disruptive
Technology Lead Says Big Companies Can Fill the Growing VC Gap

By Marc Dresner, IIR
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation makes
helicopters, and it's probably not the first place one would expect to find a
robust open innovation program.
After all, why would a
multi-billion-dollar aerospace company known for its engineering brilliance
need to look outside its own walls to innovate?
Jonathan Hartman

They have the talent, the resources'

But according to Jonathan Hartman, Sikorsky's
Disruptive Technology Lead, deep pockets and personnel aren't enough for any
company today.

'A singular, monolithic internal R&D architecture just
doesn't work anymore.'
'A singular, monolithic internal
R&D architecture just doesn't work anymore,' Hartman told me in an
'You cannot keep up with all of the
product cycles that are happening, so you have to venture out into an open
innovation model,' he added.
Hartman says easy access for
individuals to technology that used to constitute a competitive advantage for
large corporations has democratized innovation.

'The gap has closed for anyone to innovate like a large
'For the equivalent of a gym membership,
I can wander in and use a multi-million-dollar machining facility. I can go
online and utilize supercomputing technology'So the gap has closed for anyone
to innovate like a large corporation,' he said.
Fortuitously for large
companies, Hartman also notes available venture funding has been shrinking,
which has enabled Sikorsky and other corporations to invest in entrepreneurs'much in the vein of VCs.
'There's a gap between what angel investors and VC can do and that's
really where corporations can fill that gap and help accelerate technological
innovation,' he said.

'Your dollar goes further. You can do more with less and
faster with entrepreneurs.'
Among other upsides, Hartman
says investing in entrepreneurs can actually prove more efficient than spending
the money internally.
'Your dollar goes further. You
can do more with less and faster with entrepreneurs,' said Hartman.
In this episode of Forward Focus'FEI's expert
interview series'Jonathan Hartman discusses the trend of big companies
investing in entrepreneurs to fuel innovation and how Sikorsky is putting it to
Check it out on
FEI's YouTube Channel or watch below!

About Forward Focus
Forward Focus is a special interview series featuring thought leaders
and experts at the forefront of innovation.
Forward Focus is brought to you by FEI 2015'the 13th annual Front End of Innovation conference'taking place May 18-20 in Boston.

For more information or to register, please visit www.frontendofinnovation.com

Marc Dresner is IIR USA's sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a trade publication for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.

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