Research Outline

Corporate Innovation


To obtain details on corporate innovation activities such as programs, accelerators, and incubators, with information on the activities launched, the results of the activities, and examples of innovation initiatives that failed.

Early Findings

  • The initial round of research indicates that there is generally a wealth of information available on this topic, with the exception being details on why specific innovation labs were closed or downsized (i.e. failed).

Innovative Companies and Leaders

  • According to a survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the biggest innovators are in the software, automotive, industrial goods, and chemicals industries.
  • BCG also ranked the most innovative companies based on survey data that considered "global mindshare," "value creation," "industry disruption," and "industry peer review." The top ten for 2020 were Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, Huawei, Alibaba, IBM, Sony, and Facebook.
  • Forbes also published a list, and their top 10 were ServiceNow, Workday,, Tesla,, Netflix, Incyte, Hindustan Unilever, Naver, and Facebook.
  • Forbes published a curated list of America's most innovative leaders, which would likely provide more companies to examine for innovation initiatives.
  • CBInsights published a list summarizing the innovation labs for more than 85 corporations, and a 2018 list by Fanatical Futurist also published a list in 2018 that included over 80 corporate labs.

Company Specific Data

HP Labs

  • HP Labs was founded in 1966, and currently focuses their research on four main areas: 3D, Microfluidics & Systems Technology, Security, and Digital Manufacturing.
  • Some examples of products/innovations that resulted from work at HP Labs are the HP Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition, 3D printing with SmileDirectClub, and various tech innovations to help with geriatric care.

CVS Digital Innovation Lab

  • CVS's Digital Innovation Lab was founded in 2015, but a search for recent references (past year) to the lab and what they are doing found very few results. CBInsights did report that the SMS messaging system used by CVS Health was developed in the lab. This innovation resulted in a large reduction in phone calls to pharmacists.

Innovation Failures

  • An article from 2017 reported that Nordstrom, Microsoft, Disney, Target, Coca-Cola, British Airways, and The New York Times closed or significantly downsized their innovation labs. Further details on the reasons behind this were not found in the initial research.
  • Harvard Business Review published an article on the reasons for innovation lab failure, and they included lack of alignment with the business, lack of metrics to track success, and lack of balance on the team.

Summary of Findings

  • In the initial research we were able to find rankings of the most innovative companies (global) and the most innovative corporate leaders (US). Additionally, we provided information on two specific innovation labs, including details on successful products/services that resulted from work in the labs.
  • Our initial research did not find much publicly available data on specific innovation initiatives that failed and the reasons behind those failures. Therefore, if further research in this area is desired, we suggest the focus be broadened to general reasons for failure, as well as key criteria for success.
  • As no geographical focus was provided, we took a global approach to the research. Additionally, we did not focus on any particular industry(ies), as this was not specified. If this should be changed (for example to the U.S. only or to specific industries), this would need to be noted in any response.
  • In our first proposal below, we are recommending research to provide details on the innovation labs at 18 of the most innovative companies as named by Forbes and BCG (there are 18 total because both companies included Amazon and Facebook on their top 10 lists). The number of companies can be scaled up if desired, with every 6 additional companies being an additional 3 hours of research. If this is desired, please note the total number of companies desired in any response. To ensure data availability, we would recommend capping the number at 48 companies initially.
  • In our second proposal below we are recommending research to provide 2-3 case studies on successful products/services that were the result of work in corporate innovation labs. The number of case studies can be scaled up if desired, with every additional 2-3 case studies being an additional 3 hours of research. If this is desired, please note the total number of case studies desired in any response. To ensure data availability, we would recommend capping the number of case studies at 12 initially.