About our author: Stephanie Kimber is a foundation member of the innovationXchange team, a part of Australia’s aid program. She ran Australia’s first two Grand Challenges and is currently on secondment to the Global Innovation Exchange based in Washington D.C.
Last year I experienced the power of an acceleration process up close and personal. To be honest I had been talking with some authority to others about incubators and accelerators for more than a year as part of my role in the innovationXchange (iXc). I knew the theory of accelerators (taking an innovation or business and accelerating its progress) and incubators (taking an idea and working it up into a viable business or innovation) and I had visited several ‘spaces’ but I had never participated in one personally. As iXc’s Grand Challenges ‘Master’ (creative job titling is a perk) I was sourcing hundreds of exciting development innovations from around the globe and seeing that the winners of our challenges all had varying needs – some were already on the way to becoming sustainable businesses and others were still in the R&D phase. Our first grand challenge, The Pacific Humanitarian Challenge, taught us that if we really wanted to see our innovators and their innovations reaching as many people as possible we had to do more than just provide seed funding. Lack of access to start-up capital was only a part of the challenge. We needed to support them in the multiple other ways that burgeoning entrepreneurs need – legal advice, business planning, technical expertise, access to people who had done something similar before and access to networks.
Click to read more of this blog on the InnovationXchange website.