UST Innovation Israel - A Year In Retrospect

Michael Marx, Vice President of Innovation, UST Innovation Israel

Michael Marx, Vice President of Innovation, UST Innovation Israel

Our goal was to create a platform that would combine UST’s global reach, our clients’ needs for value creation and positively impact the Israeli tech ecosystem. With the appearance of COVID-19, many new surprising and complex challenges emerged.

We are all a part of the ecosystem

I often assess the different trends in the Israeli startup and VC space from my talks with many multinational companies promoting corporate innovation here in Israel. However, we do not focus enough on the profound influence that multinationals have on the ecosystem. Over the last year, we have been asked repeatedly to echo market behaviors and explain how our corporate clients are adjusting to this “New Normal” in terms of business models, supply chain dependence, and even solution sales cycles. Understanding the challenges many of our partners face, locally and globally, we can create the correct narrative, discussions, and, ultimately, partnerships.

It's all about partnership and transparency

If the last year has taught us anything, transparency is probably the most important characteristic of any business partnership. Working with startups transparent and focused allows larger corporations to understand key differentiators in the market better. Acknowledging that most companies have different needs gives us the capability of creating stronger positioning and more creative business opportunities – strengths that can only be acquired through clear, focused, and transparent collaboration.

Be open to going full circle

The way we do business has undoubtedly changed; however, so has the way we manage our businesses. COVID-19 has fast-tracked the world into a new corporate culture where local and office-centric decision-making is no longer the standard. Instead, remote teams and global collaborations are now vital to running successful businesses. Startups were among the first to adapt to this change, with larger corporations quickly catching up.

One Market, Multiple Models

We went live doing a thorough discovery tour internally in our corporate and clientele and through the ecosystem, looking for the best collaborations on specific growth areas. We realized that the classic ‘Open Innovation’ model being pitched requires refinement and a deeper understanding of market needs. With that in mind, we developed a new model that allows Startups to bring their leads and enjoy our corporate support, which is, occasionally, what they need. The ideal solution is still unclear, but our approach gives a strong vantage point over the entire ecosystem.

To POC or not to POC? That is the question!

The common currency that symbolizes a healthy engagement between a startup and a corporate entity is the willingness to engage in a proof of concept (POC). Startups are eager to get their foot in the door while the larger corporations are open to engaging in the technological discovery of new capabilities. Unfortunately, we see too many POCs that, despite being adequately defined, don’t show proper business outcomes for clients, startups, and ourselves. We’ve had the most successful engagements that were lengthy but didn’t require a POC, rather more focus on the slow and gradual deployment of capabilities. In other words, the goal is to build trust first, followed by a clear and precise value.

As we move into the next phase of this significant period, we will see more changes due to the slow but steady back-to-work process and the challenges facing corporations and startups. Both must engage more transparently and openly, establish clear goals, understand market trends, and crystalize their value propositions to better show an efficient way of business in the post-covid era. To learn more about growth opportunities with open innovation, contact UST Innovation Israel.