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Empowering innovators in-house


Daimler is harnessing ‘professional startup methods’ to support its workforce advance their innovative ideas in-house.

Earlier this year the company renamed its ‘innovation factory’ platform Lab1886 – from Business Innovation – as a facility to help intrapreneurs at Daimler realise their ambitions. It has incubators in Berlin and Stuttgart, as well as Beijing and Sunnyvale, in America.

And a competition for Daimler employees in Europe, which runs till the end of the month, is focussed on pioneering the next big thing linked to the number 100 million. The company says this can be focused on areas including ‘clicks, new customers, sales, kilowatt-hours, autonomously driven passengers or freight containers’.

“With the ideas competition, we are continuing our successful innovation drive. We also aim to harness the creative potential of our workforce in order to come up with new, big business ideas. No-one knows our company better or what potential is available there,” says Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management with responsibility for Finance and Controlling/Daimler Financial Services. “With Lab1886, we have a suitable incubator that employs start-up methods and unconventional approaches to successfully develop new and innovative business models to market maturity.”

The entries will be whittled down to three next February and given ‘intensive technical support’ via Lab1886.

Offering intrapreneurship opportunities is a growing trend among corporations.

Speaking to Innovators Magazine, Katherine Manuel, SVP Innovation at Thomson Reuters, said: “Cultivating our intrapreneurs is pretty much my whole job. We are a workforce of 45,000 people in over 100 countries around the world. Our employees know their professional markets inside and out. Not only do they provide our customers with the tools and information they need to do their jobs well; they are a trusted resource and partner for customers and they know the challenges and opportunities that are the most significant.

“Allowing our employees to experiment and try new approaches that they think will delight customers, streamline processes or improve methods is extremely important. We conduct and sponsor lean experimentation and design thinking workshops across the globe that give people the tools and grant people permission to experiment constructively. We have woven innovation into our company-wide training programs to ensure that employees know it matters and they feel invited to participate. We understand that our employees are our most valuable asset and we want them to feel empowered in their roles.”

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