Innovation Guiding Uncertain Times

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At the moment, it is difficult to find a single industry that is not experiencing immense disruptions to its business model due to the coronavirus outbreak. The travel, healthcare, and automotive industries are getting hit the worst, yet interrupted supply chains, non-existent customer demand, and necessary job cuts are occurring across the board. In these uncertain times, the need for innovation is at an all-time high.

Due to these massive disruptions, drastic behavioral changes from consumer to company, and everyone in between, are happening at unprecedented rates. What is being revealed is that adaptable mindsets are what’s needed most — mindsets that will allow businesses to tackle the unfamiliar and poorly understood problems coming their way. And how exactly should they be adapting their mindsets? By recognizing the necessity for innovation.

The nature of the crisis and its unpredictable effects show how necessary rapid problem solving is for the economy to turn around. The world is a different place than it was three or four months ago. Therefore, our thinking has to be different than it was three or four months ago. A helpful place to start is by looking at one of the main drivers and sources of innovation: startups. The driving force behind startups’ success is their innate design to grow fast. There is a culture of acceptance when it comes to small failures that allow them to reach cutting-edge solutions, designs, ideas, you name it. There is this “nothing to lose” mentality that truly brings out the utmost creativity.

With certain retail industries at an almost standstill, take-out food increasing its popularity, and social distancing becoming the new normal — there are numerous gaps and opportunities making themselves known. Startups have the ability to identify, react, ideate, and implement at an astounding rate, whereas large companies don’t have the same agility to do so.

Unfortunately, when looking at the funding landscape, startups are getting hit hard. Venture capital firms are slowing down their investment activity. While they have not stopped completely, they are only focusing their energy on the most intriguing of startups. With that being said, it is crucial for startups to communicate their value in a compelling and convincing manner that will attract the attention of those they are seeking investment from. Startups must address the current crisis, explain how they have pivoted, adjusted, and re-mapped their growth strategy. That can sound overwhelming when considering the day-to-day attention the startup itself needs to move forward. This is why at Serious Business, we have developed a digital innovation workshop to help set businesses up for success in these uncertain times. By working together with the design team to build a strong foundation for future success, startups can continue to focus on their strengths and have one less thing to worry about.

Additionally, 27pilots a startup based in Munich has launched a platform to support startups called Startups Against Corona, found here. The platform provides established companies the opportunity to disclose the problems they are facing. Startups can then offer their creative solutions to the presented problems. The increasing struggles facing companies due to COVID-19 do not seem to be slowing down anytime soon, therefore posing the perfect opportunity for startups to apply their solutions at a grand scale. The role of 27pilots is to manually collect and connect all companies with startup inquiries. “With the platform, we want to contribute to minimizing the impact of the pandemic on the economy, normalizing everyday work and paving the way for start-ups to bring solutions to the market quickly and effectively,” explains 27pilots co-founder, Gregor Gimmy. Innovative startups have the power to quickly help established companies adapt and remain flexible during this crisis, while simultaneously gaining new customers.

Recent developments prove that startups are able to formulate answers to global challenges despite the current landscape. Biontech, a startup researching a vaccine against COVID-19, received payment of EUR 120 million from a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

The challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis highlight the need for flexible and quick solutions as uncertainty becomes the new normal. To achieve this, startups need to become a priority in the business landscape. This is not a matter of survival, but rather a wake-up call to those clinging to their past habits and practices — utilizing smart collaborations will provide a win-win situation for all parties involved.