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CytivaHow does a global leader seed fund its own future?

Cytiva and Implement Strategy
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In 2020, a new global life science leader emerged. Formerly part of GE Healthcare and now part of the Danaher group, Cytiva’s mission is to advance and accelerate therapeutics. At the time of its launch, the company’s leadership posed a challenge to its 7,000 staff across 40 countries: how can we advance and accelerate our business while protecting the planet?

Titled Planet Business, this open innovation initiative resulted in 125 strategic ideas from all corners and levels of the organisation. Of these, six were selected for further development.

The challenge

How can six globally dispersed teams go from idea to investment-ready growth case? How can they best equip themselves to compete for investment? And how can the entire organisation keep track of progress and be inspired by the teams’ work?

The challenge was to design and execute an incubation programme that could run virtually (a certain pandemic broke out just as the project was taking off) and provide coaching and support to each individual team throughout the development process: from experimentation and assumption testing to prototyping, validation and concept presentation.

The solution

To capture the true value of open innovation and overcome the obstacles of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project ran 100% virtually on a global scale thanks to the use of collaborative platforms such as MS Teams and Miro and original videos produced every week as a core communication element.

Each team started by defining its vision before identifying and validating the problem and further developing, testing and maturing key solutions. A metered funding approach set out specific parameters, such as an obligation to acquire hard customer validation for any proposed solution.

At the end of the eight-week incubation programme, each team was to compete for investment in a Dragons’ Den/Shark Tank scenario to be broadcast to the whole company.

The impact

Five of the six teams achieved full funding. While the number of teams to achieve funding was never a performance metric in itself, it is a clear measure of the success of the programme that the teams were able to demonstrate solid evidence for their solutions to the extent that the investment panel, including the CEO and a partner organisation, backed them with a total investment of €3.8m.

All project tools and learnings were translated into a playbook for future business incubation at Cytiva, and the organisation acquired capabilities for a battle-tested virtual setup for incubation and business innovation at scale.

Involving over 1,300 participants, this initiative proved that corporate innovation and the cascading of strategic goals are possible in a virtual world. And in doing so, Cytiva built a powerful innovation muscle for the years to come.

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