Using Intern Programs To Usher In New Innovation Opportunities

Building credibility fast in an organization is imperative for corporate innovation programs. So often the organization's bureaucratic apparatus acts like antibodies dispatched to create barriers that work against generating much needed quick innovation wins. Though not the only blockers, Finance pinching budget money, Legal and Compliance reducing risk to zero, and IT exuding not-in-my-computer-center vibes can create some of the common entanglements that burn valuable lamplight (time) and provoke organizational ire from Leadership when you suggest doing something different might actually require doing something different.

To accelerate the adoption of innovation consider using your intern program to usher in new innovation opportunities

Most companies have an intern program already "wired" into the organization, so little to no organizational change is needed. Also, there is usually an HR policy and budget allocated to support intern hires through the program, so no beating the drum for innovation funding. If your company's program is like most, it is long on goodwill gestures to create opportunities for job-seeking students and the like. Since students are well ... students ... a shortcoming is often business acumen. As such, expectations of intern hires being business-impactful is likely not the first priority.... or second priority... in the hiring process. Set your focus on changing this paradigm. 

Instead of circulating job descriptions, scout your business needs as innovation challenges to attract talent from the technical community

Scouting the technical community with innovation challenges will attract entrepreneurs, creators, breakthrough thinkers, startups, and top tech talent that will bring ideas and solutions to solve your innovation challenges. Pick the best solutions, import the talent through the intern program, and get them developing solutions. Since the innovation challenges are based on relevant business needs the work will be driving the kind of results you can measure (and brag about) in your innovation program. Oh, and the organization will also be learning what innovation looks like.

Here are some examples of innovation challenges...

Example 1

smart-tireAn iconic auto manufacturer is seeking entrepreneurs, researchers, and creators to ideate around the concept of the smart tire.  Of interest are cool and clever ways for consumers to interact with their tires. Though a primary purpose is to be able to monitor tire health and tread wear depth; we ask what else can we do to delight drivers, passengers, and the auto mechanics that service vehicles.  

We're asking you to think big and come join our team to develop your concept!


Example 2

slip-and-fallA risk management leader in the food services industry is seeking to connect with entrepreneurs, researchers, and breakthrough thinkers working on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and processes for preventing slip-and-fall wet floor injuries in quick-serve restaurants.

Of high interest are inexpensive sensor technologies or surface materials that can easily be integrated with non-digital equipment of all types and coupled in an elegantly simple and reliable manner to track and monitor desirable aspects of performance.

Target applications might include:

  • PREVENTING dangerous floor conditions from occurring;
  • DETECTING when floor surface conditions create risk;
  • MONITORING surface conditions of the floor;
  • TRACKING date, time, and store location of floor cleanings; and
  • IMPROVING floor surface materials that can increase traction.

Curious to us are clever connected devices and materials that can be tied to risk reduction, worker and customer safety, restaurant efficiency, and cost savings.

Have the perfect solution? Come join our team and develop your concept!