An ecosystem platform for innovation communities, with Lukas Strniste from Corporate Innovators

Lukas Strniste is CEO & Founder of EnterpriseUP, a company building a decentralized innovation platform for connecting innovation ecosystems globally. He also initiated the Corporate Innovators community (and Corporate Startups summit). In the course of setting-up their own digital community for corporate innovators, he realized that there is much more needed than just a one-only community platform. There is an imminent need for a modular digital ecosystem platform that could be used by other innovation communities / ecosystem as a white-label SaaS to anyone who wants to build his own digital ecosystem. He tells us a more about this AWS-akin story!

1. Hi Lukas, can you tell us a little bit about your experience, and how you started EnterpriseUP and Corporate Innovators community?

Hi Nicolas, many thanks for inviting me to your blog for this interview. I have been in the area of innovation ecosystems / innovation management around 10 years. It started off with my role in an innovation department in the largest logistics services provider Deutsche Post DHL, and I moved on to start EnterpriseUP as a legal entity in 2013 with a purpose of connecting innovation managers and experts for added value creation.

Our first project back then was the innovation management conference Corporate Startup Summit. The conference was quite successful, and we managed to connect the innovation landscape in DACH by bringing it to different places such as Frankfurt, Zurich or Vienna. The Corporate Innovators community or ecosystem is the digital-twin of an innovation network that we built throughout the past years.

2. Why did you choose to develop the requested features on a bespoke platform -made on your own- rather than use an existing tool?

We have started building up Corporate Innovators beginning of last year with the outbreak of COVID-crisis. Initially we have used existing SaaS MightyNetworks to set it up as an online community and focused more on continuously providing content in terms of different formats of online events. Soon we realised that we needed more than MightyNetworks was offering and started looking into our own development.

Our purpose was to not only connect people as an online innovation community but also knowledge, products & services and data. That is how we came out with the idea of building a decentralized network of connected innovation marketplaces and facilitating the transactions within the individual ecosystem globally.

3. Who are the target users who might benefit from such a platform, in a white-label mode? How is this market growing?

Innovation ecosystem is a platform where different stakeholders with mutually complementary roles contribute to the overall value creation. That is why there are multiple target groups or stakeholders that can benefit from our platform in different ways:

(1) Innovation Hubs & Communities – With COVID the physical innovation hubs & communities are broken. Our platform supports in building a “digital-twin” of the physical innovation ecosystem / community and better connects the people, knowledge, products & services and data across multiple locations. On top of that, we simplify running of remote accelerators, corporate startup partnerships and the global connections for local or regional ecosystems. 

(2) Innovation Experts & Service Providers – Also this target group has to look for ways to transform their current service delivery channel as well as expand their portfolio with digital offering. Our platform is perfect for that. It enables innovation experts and service provider companies to digitize & monetize the knowledge offerings and scale the sales & lead generation through integration with multiple innovation marketplaces at once.

(3) Corporations – The current remote work and COVID crisis disconnected even more the existing innovation silos within established organisations and also their connections with external innovation ecosystems. Our platform is not only going to fix it but will also minimize the innovation silos. On top of that corporations can use our platform to run and scale remote innovation programs, access a large curated knowledge base and verified experts across multiple ecosystems and expand their portfolio through value added services.

(4) Investors – Lastly, investors as participants of existing ecosystems benefit from our platform by improved inbound dealflow and high quality curated data about potential investments targets across all the connected innovation ecosystems.

We have launched the white-label version of our platform only in March and since then we have already implemented it for two other ecosystems and have more in the pipeline. 

4. What are the key features users will find on the platform? What is the ‘unfair advantage’ of your platform?

The platform is splitted into several modules that could be activated by the orchestrator of the ecosystem – eLearning, community, knowledge base, remote events, marketplace etc. We have united all of these features to make sure that the use does not have to leave the platform for another tool. For that we also use different integrations supporting remote collaborations in digital ecosystems such as Zoom, Miro etc.

One of the main advantages is single-sign-on. Basically with on account we grant the user the access to multiple digital innovation ecosystems. On top of that, by connecting additional innovation ecosystems we are building a strong base for a decentralized innovation database that is going to hold qualitative data. 

5. What is the business model for the users?

The business model from the end user perspective depends on governance setup by the orchestrator of the ecosystem. We offer several monetization options – creating annual subscription plans or monetizing individual products & services offered through the ecosystem marketplace, such as webinars, e-learning courses, coaching, consulting etc.

It is up to the orchestrator to decide which group of users / participants of the ecosystem can monetize their offerings through the marketplace. It does not have to be only the orchestrator himself but also his partners or even selected customers (C2C). In the case the orchestrator allows service partners to sell through the marketplace, there could be individual transaction fees charged.

6. Do you propose after-sales services (maintenance, features enhancement), and how can you ensure long-term service on your platform?

We guarantee the accessibility and high quality technical support to all our customers. At the moment we deploy continuously all the updates and new features across all the connected ecosystems so that each customer has the same set of features.  

7. What is your next challenge?

Our next challenge is getting a strong seed investor on board to help us push the vision of globally & digitally connecting the innovation ecosystems.  

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