In November 2018, Siemens’ global venture firm Next47 kicked off Next47 Accelerator. The idea is to select the best business ideas from Siemens teams to participate in an intensive 12-week program. Now, the first six teams kicked-off the program. Coming from Brazil, China, Germany and the U.S., they are working on projects coming out of fields like Artificial Intelligence, future of energy and advanced data analytic. Eva Riesenhuber, Partner and CFO of Next47, and Ravi Belani, CEO of Alchemist, explain what the partnership will mean for Siemens, its employees and its customers.
by Lizzie McGlinchey
What are the goals of the Next47 Accelerator?
Riesenhuber: Overall, the goal is to scout for promising, new ideas within Siemens that might otherwise get overlooked. Another goal is to benefit the larger Siemens ecosystem by exposing it to a fast-paced, startup environment and apply nimble culture and rapid development processes across the entire company.
Belani: Regarding entrepreneurial Siemens teams, the partnership offers two main advantages. Not only does it provide all the participants the time and space to develop their ideas into real businesses, it also gives them access to high-profile external mentors who can provide invaluable counsel, feedback and connections. Great ideas require ample nurturing and support, so our goal is to support Siemens in ensuring their employees’ great ideas don’t get lost in the shuffle.
This isn’t Next47’s first partnership with a leading, global accelerator. Why was Alchemist selected?
Riesenhuber: Next47’s mission is to identify and create the next generation of business for Siemens. One of the ways we do this is by championing and nurturing intrapreneurial ventures within Siemens through the Next47 Accelerator.
We chose Alchemist as a partner in this endeavor because it is the leading accelerator in the enterprise and B2B space, which is a natural fit for Siemens. It also has an extensive and impressive mentor network that will be critical in stress-testing the ideas that get chosen to participate in the program. We believe this expertise will be crucial in setting Siemens’ teams up for success once they return to Siemens after the 12-week program.
Belani: Alchemist has extensive experience establishing corporate accelerator programs, having previously partnered with companies like Accenture, AIG, Boeing, Samsung and more. We’re excited to partner with Next47 and Siemens given their longstanding culture of intrapreneurship and deliver a program to their employees that’s been designed explicitly for them.
"IoT, AI or the future of energy, any and all concepts that align with the Siemens portfolio are fair game. "
The program’s selection process is rigorous. What types of intrapreneurs or ideas are you looking for?
Riesenhuber: It’s certainly a competitive selection process, as only a small number of teams will ultimately be chosen; however we’re not limiting ourselves to certain types of teams or ideas. What we’re really looking for are ideas that could have the potential to define the next generation of Siemens businesses. In order to participate in the first program, candidates will need to apply by December 2, but we will be running two programs per year and accepting applications throughout the year for participation in future programs.
Belani: What’s exciting about this accelerator program is that it’s not limited to specific industry domains. Whether a Siemens employee has an idea around IoT, AI or the future of energy, any and all concepts that align with the Siemens portfolio are fair game.
What will Siemens employees get out of the program?
Riesenhuber: This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for our intrapreneurs to execute on their ideas and bring them to fruition within Siemens. By participating in this program, they will be given the time to focus on building out their ideas. They will also be given access to mentors from within and outside of Siemens, and receive coaching that will give them the skills to launch their ideas within Siemens. We’ve found that Siemens employees have a strong intrapreneurial spirit and want to contribute to the future of the company. The Alchemist program taps into these qualities and will help liberate our most talented intrapreneurs.
How will Siemens customers benefit from the partnership?
Riesenhuber: Any kind of rapid innovation and iterative development benefits our customers; however, the ideas developed within the Alchemist program will anticipate our customers’ needs before they even realize they have them.
"We are bringing our Silicon Valley learnings and spirit into the Siemens ecosystem."
Accelerator programs are rampant in the tech world, especially in the U.S. How does the Next47 Accelerator provide unique value?
Riesenhuber: The structure of our program is crucial. The teams selected will present at a pitch day event in front of top Siemens executives, including board members, and during the immersive, 12-week program there will be a heavy mentor focus. Teams will be paired only with the most relevant mentors and every level of Siemens expertise will be represented -- from high-level executive management to technology and product management-focused professionals.
Belani: Agreed, the mentor resources within Siemens alone are unparalleled, and Alchemist is contributing its own network of over 1,700 experts. Also, by targeting only the B2B market, we help narrow participants’ focus so they can deliver something real and productive at the end of the program, rather than just endlessly pontificating on ideas that may not have real business value.
Externally, why is the Next47/Alchemist partnership important?
Riesenhuber: Corporate innovation programs have become wildly popular in recent years, but the truth is that these initiatives fail between 70 to 90 percent of the time. It’s really difficult to execute and provide meaningful value. Our program is solving this challenge. By leaning on the expertise and already-established infrastructure of Alchemist, we will be able to deliver substantive value to our intrapreneurs.
Belani: This marks our first corporate accelerator program in Europe. By bringing our Silicon Valley learnings and spirit into the Siemens ecosystem, the partnership marries two critical business demographics and adds yet another advantageous tool to Siemens’ ever-expanding intrapreneurial toolbox.
Picture credits: from top: picture 1: Getty Images/Gary Burchell
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