Connecting Startups in a Portfolio with Business Units

By Scott Kirsner |  January 3, 2020

What role should quick wins play in your innovation or R&D portfolio? That’s the question we set out to answer with a survey and a set of qualitative interviews for our research report: Quick Wins: Data and Case Studies on Delivering Results Fast.

Below is one of the case studies from the report with Ayal Somech, Director of Portfolio Development, Boeing Horizonx Ventures. Aerospace giant Boeing created the HorizonX Ventures team in 2017 to “unlock the next generation of game-changing ideas, products, and markets.” It has made investments in 3D printing, urban drones, satellite communications, and hypersonic propulsion technology.

InnoLead members can access the full 40+ page report, which includes 15 other case studies, here. Not a member? Learn more about joining, or become a registered user to access a limited number of free articles. 

What is the Quick Win?

The Boeing HorizonX Ventures Portfolio Development team is responsible for the traction and success of our portfolio companies, while working to introduce their various technologies and capabilities inside of Boeing and across our supply chain. Here we demonstrate the additional value-add for our startups besides investment dollars, which includes identifying and scoping out meaningful projects on which both parties can collaborate. At times, the best ideas come from the most unexpected directions. 

Ayal Somech, Director of Portfolio Development, Boeing Horizonx Ventures.

In an attempt to increase visibility and diversify thoughts and suggestions, the Portfolio Development team collaborated with members of an emerging leaders development group within Boeing to familiarize participants with the Boeing HorizonX Ventures Portfolio, and brainstorm potential collaborations between the portfolio companies and different teams from the core business. The group received overviews of the portfolio companies and then brainstormed projects in a “roundtable” setting. Out of 300-plus ideas sourced, 10 were selected for further refinement, where the Boeing HorizonX Portfolio Development team worked alongside teams of participants to craft project memos for their ideas. This was a great way to expose participants to working with a startup and how Boeing can leverage this talent pool to create value for both parties. 

Building off that engagement, the Boeing HorizonX Portfolio Development team launched an enterprise-wide initiative to inspire Boeing employees to brainstorm potential collaborations with the portfolio companies as part of an enterprise-level project – “Boeing’s Innovation Week.” Employees are encouraged to share their ideas and submit a well-thought out plan and business model for solving challenges across the enterprise and for our customers. Harnessing this existing platform, Boeing HorizonX launched a competition which called for ideas and problem-solving suggestions [that would leverage] the Boeing HorizonX portfolio companies.

This process has generated 50 unique submissions so far and refined ideas that call for a collaboration between the Boeing HorizonX portfolio companies and Boeing business units. The hope is to take and fund at least one of the ideas to an end solution in the next twelve months.

Who Was Involved?

We worked with the coordinators of Boeing’s emerging leadership development program, the Innovation Week planning team, and Boeing Communications to get the word out about the Innovation Week portfolio development campaign and solicit ideas.

Who Identified the Opportunity?

The previous Boeing HorizonX Ventures Portfolio Development director, Saiesh Reddy.

What Was the Timeframe?

Boeing’s Innovation Week ran from October 21-25 2019, with submissions accepted until Nov 4.

What Were the Metrics or Objectives?

The objective was to engage 200-plus leaders at Boeing, and familiarize them with the Boeing HorizonX Ventures portfolio companies. We had also hoped to identify three to five ideas to explore further after the initial workshop.

How Did You Communicate Outcomes?

Outcomes were communicated via email to workshop participants, and through intranet articles about the workshop.

How Did This Fit Into Your Overall Strategy? 

This fit into our strategy of getting more people at Boeing exposed to the Boeing HorizonX portfolio, and helping them brainstorm ways Boeing could partner with startups for innovative solutions. 

InnoLead members can access the full 40+ page report, which includes 15 other interviews, here. Not a member? Learn more about joining here, or become a registered user to access a limited number of free articles.