Breakthrough Innovation Thought Leadership: Disruption

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Breakthrough Innovation Thought Leadership: Disruption

Breakthrough Innovation Thought Leadership Article

Should Big Business partner with start-ups and the entrepreneurial community?


At the LaunchLab we believe the answer to this questions is “yes” and that Big Business not only should partner with start-ups and the entrepreneurial community, they must. Currently, the speed of technological advancement has created a dilemma for Big Business because of the disruptive nature of this advancement.


Big Business is good at implementing a proven business model based on its core business and competencies. Referring to the diagram, this business model relates to known ideas and existing markets. Incremental innovations also fit into a business’s core competencies and core business. They are enablers to run the current business more effectively and are also important so that a business can remain relevant in the short-term. However, in order to identify future revenue streams businesses, need to identify Breakthrough Innovation. They are disruptive and will change the way business is done in many areas. Accessing breakthrough innovation will mean adopting new technology, new processes, new customers, new knowledge and as a result new business models.


This is the Big Business dilemma mentioned earlier: the tension between executing an existing business model and identifying and experimenting with Breakthrough Innovation. Big Business would not be able to achieve extensive gains or remain relevant in the medium to long-term by simply tackling efficiencies and productivity improvements (incremental innovation).  To achieve such gains, Big Business will need to improve their ability to disrupt. In order to access disruptive breakthrough Iinnovation, Big Business will need to look outside themselves and tap into external ecosystems like the LaunchLab. They create an environment where start-ups can experiment with new technologies and business models quickly, easily and cost-effectively.


So how does Big Business benefit from this? It is best explained with a practical example from the LaunchLab. Together with Nedbank, the LaunchLab will be engaging in an exclusive Fintech and Big Data Challenge running from 16 August 2016 to 23 September 2016.

On 16 August we will host a workshop. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a context for the Fintech and Big Data Challenge, including opportunities for new businesses to engage with Nedbank. The Fintech and Big Data industry has seen a great deal of disruption due to new technology and changing banking behaviours in Africa. Nedbank, one of the largest banks in South Africa, identified the need to tap into disruptions or breakthrough innovations in order to find new ways of using mobile technology to further promote financial inclusion, enhance client experiences using connected devices and find innovative methods to on-board and activate new clients.

They teamed up with the LaunchLab to help gain access to these disruptions. The LaunchLab provides access to a unique community of campus-based entrepreneurs as well as an environment where start-ups can test new technologies and business models without corporate restrictions.


After the workshop, interested participants can pitch their business ideas on one of our participating campuses and Nedbank will choose which ideas they would like the LaunchLab to help develop further.

Once a new idea shows promise, Nedbank may then provide that start-up with an opportunity it would normally struggle to get: access to market. The result provides a win-win situation where Big Business and the start-up ecosystem are able to leverage their strengths


For more information on this challenge, visit our