Innovation Channels
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TypeDescriptionFundingExecutionDirectionExamples
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Cash Generating StartupsNew companies that generate cash immediately or can get money via debt on future cashDebt or Free Cash Flow. Management team paid from cash flow.Management TeamModular Shipping Containers
GoFundMe
Vulcanized Rubber
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Equity Funded StartupsInnovations that don’t generate cash right now, but are expected to have an outsize return on investment some time in the future.
Small # external Investors who buy equity.
Incentives: ROI
Management team paid mostly via equity.
Incentives: ROI, Status, Vision
Board of directors containing investors, management, and sometimes external members.The obvious ones in Silicon Valley
Ford Motor Company
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Grant-Funded R&DThis is bucket that comprises most of the innovations that come out of universities and other non-profit research institutions. Grants are typically competitive awards.
External grant-generating institution. Government, foundations, companies are most common in that order.
Incentives: Status, progress on grant metrics
Varies: Companies, academic labs, individuals
Incentives: Show regular progress on grant, publish papers, status
Negotiation - scope of grant set by funder, specific project set by grantee. Regular renegotion.The Internet, Autonomous Vehicles, anything funded by DARPA
Almost all science theory after 1930
Some Art
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CrowdsourcingA number of individuals pooling their money to support a project trying to create an innovation. Large number of individuals. Incentives: usually want a final product.Varies.
Incentives: reputation, delivering on promise to crowd
Nominally set by the project team. Often an implied claim on direction-setting by all the individual funders. Oculus
Ocean Cleanup
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Open-SourceInnovations created by a small or nonexistent full-time team. The majority of intermediate and final results are available for anybody to use.
Varies. Sometimes support from grants or companiesVolunteers. Often a few ‘core contributors’ will provide more execution than all the rest combined.
Incentives: Status, fun
Contributors. Sometimes free for all, sometimes steering committee, and sometimes dictator.
Linux
Git
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Philanthropy Projects with no expectation of financial returns. Wealthy individuals, foundations, charities.
Incentives: Individuals mostly status, foundations and charities - mission and bring in more funding
Varies. Sometimes grant-receiving companies or individuals, sometimes people internal to the organization.
Incentives: Deliver on metrics set by funder.
Varies. Spectrum from completely set by execution team to funding and direction is all tied to a single individual.OpenAI
Gates Foundation (Maleria Prevention Methods)
DE Shaw Research
Liter of Light (Skylights out of bottles)
Almost all science theory before 1930
Some Art
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Internal R&DInternal research projects exist within bigger organizations, either corporate labs or military labs.Parent organization in the form of a budget.
Incentives - deliver results for parent organization, minimize costs
Distinct R&D organization inside parent organizaton.
Incentives: maintain funding, do cool things
Parent organization with varying levels of input from R&D org. Detail of mandate varies wildly.Bell Labs (Transistor)
Xerox PARC (GUIs)
Skunkworks (Stealth Fighter)
Edison Labs
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Passion ProjectsProjects where the funding, execution, and direction are all set by the same individual or small group.Individual or small group.
Incentives: Do thing they're passionate about
Same individual or small group. Incentives: Do thing they're passionate aboutSame individual or small group.Craigslist (start)
Oculus (Start)
Khan Academy (start)
Women's Sufferage
Most Art
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