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Innovation is the new buzzword in big business. Large corporations with long established ways of working are asking “How can we marshal innovation where previously stagnation has flourished?”

Companies too entrenched in an old way of working are struggling to expand the boundaries of their thoughts and interactions. In this article, we discuss the rapid rise of labs and hubs, the latest type of social organisation sweeping the globe and offering a solution.

What are innovation labs/hubs?

The term “Innovation Hub” is quite loose, and has many definitions. The common theme is of a community work space designed to foster innovation through knowledge transfer, the sharing of ideas and learning.

The idea of a lab or hub is a physical space to inspire and empower members to make bold decisions. Space is not neutral. The traditional corporate environment, a meeting room or boardroom, has been found to actually inhibit collaboration and performance, and we are seeing large companies across all industries embracing labs and hubs with a view to recreating the entrepreneurial and collaborative atmosphere of a start-up.

Three strategies for a successful innovation hub

The heart of a successful innovation hub is a collaborative community of like-minded, entrepreneurial members. Noted historical economist Joseph Schumpeter defines entrepreneurs as “Innovators who use a process of shattering the status quo of existing products and services, to set up new products, new services.”

  1. Direction
    Engaging a “Community Manager” has multiple benefits in the hub environment; they act as a host, brokering new connections, organising events and generally keep the community functioning effectively. The key benefit of the role is their ability to emphasise the feeling of a common objective, and direct the discussion and exploration of a problem to deploy the right solution.
  2. Connect online and offline
    The physical environment of a successful hub should be supported by vibrant online community across relevant social media platforms
  3. Build momentum
    Events such as design sprints and “pitch nights” enhance the value of physical space by creating momentum, enthusiasm and open interactions within the group.

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