Make, Create & Innovate: The Rise of ‘Innovation Hubs’
30 October 2019
Author: Jasmine Waters
By the end of Summer 2019, Sportswear brand Gymshark announced an unveiling of their brand spanking new ‘Innovation Hub’. They invested £5 million in a studio and fitness centre in aid of boosting employee wellbeing at its headquarters. There is now a significant increase in the potential of said innovation hubs, with more brands looking to buy into the idea and possible solutions of ‘creative spark’. But what can a larger focus on the innovation process actually contribute to a business - and what pitfalls may present themselves when shifting strategy?
What are ‘Innovation Hubs’?
Over the last decade, we have seen a huge influx in the growing popularity of innovation hubs. Often favoured by start-up companies, these hubs take the idea of “move fast and fail often” to apply to a business, hoping to create new innovations that can in turn spin back to the company itself. This strategy aims for the discovery of technological solutions helping competing in a new market, lower costs for customer acquisition and tools to help workplace efficiency. Those that have chosen to proceed with this way of thinking have cited hubs provide a safer space for product experiments, a failure-friendly environment that is vital for collaboration and fostering new ideas, without the distractions of a daily business routine. There is however ample room for such innovation hubs to fail themselves, amassing much criticism as to whether the approach ‘works’ at all, or if external factors are causing such failures instead.
How can innovation be used?
If leading from innovation is a strategy you wish to take, there are some key takeaways to continue to bear in mind. The most successful hubs are those that exist to focus solely on solving business goals and problems, as opposed to falling into the trap of ‘innovation theatre’- giving cool products attention without considering the business models that underpin them. Instead of having a goal to simply “innovate”, clear purposes should be identified from the beginning of the process to fully utilise tools and resources a company may have at their disposal. Providing guidelines for ways in which to work can also ensure early innovation hub success, with products such as Amazon’s Alexa, Kindle and Unix OS all cited to stem from the pioneering early innovation hubs. And as with many other aspects of business and retail, the ability to adapt is essential. Changing strategy to ensure the welfare of the business and creations come first (such as merging separate labs to create one single, consistent portfolio) must always remain a priority through the discover and creation of product ideas.
Creating innovation hubs are a great way to be able to quickly innovate within a brand, encapsulating the ‘fail fast and learn’ approach many startups benefit from. But if it is not set up correctly or driven with true focus and intent, avoiding pitfalls such as ‘innovation theatre’ will instantly become harder to master.
Photo source: www.archdaily.com, Mariko Reed