Who We Are

We are global researchers and practitioners of corporate innovation, entrepreneurial acceleration and start-up engagement. We conduct practitioner-relevant research, design new tools and frameworks, and provide thoughtful advice on corporate and industrial acceleration. Our core team is conformed by Professor Markus Perkmann, Professor David Gann, leading innovation expert Mr. Cristobal Garcia-Herrera, and award-winning author Dan Toma.

How to Accelerate Entrepreneurial Innovation in the Corporation

We develop executive education programs on corporate innovation acceleration, offer Imperial College talent to explore entrepreneurial acceleration opportunities, run a community of practice through monthly webinars and organize the Annual Imperial Symposium on Corporate and Industrial Acceleration

Collaborative Network

Steve Blank
Retired serial entrepreneur, Author and Professor at Stanford, Berkeley & Columbia (via videoconference)

Steve Blank has led one heck of an interesting life. He's had three careers: First, in the U.S. Air Force for four years during the Vietnam War. Next, as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur in 8 startups in two decades (with four IPOs). Currently as an academic teaching at Stanford, Berkley, Columbia and NYU.

Steve is the father of Modern Entrepreneurship. He has changed how startups are built; how entrepreneurship is taught worldwide; how science is commercialised in the U.S.; and how companies and the government innovate.

Steve Blank
Retired serial entrepreneur, Author and Professor at Stanford, Berkeley & Columbia (via videoconference)
Professor David Gann CBE
VP of Innovation at Imperial College London

David Gann is responsible for shaping the innovation agenda and vision for Imperial College, and has international experience in innovation strategy and technology management. David is the author of eight books exploring innovation processes and their management. He is Chairman, UK Atomic Energy Authority, non-executive board member of Directa Plus, member of NEC (EMEA) Advisory Council and member of the Department of Health & Social Care Tech Advisory Board. He is a Chartered Civil Engineer with a PhD in Industrial Economics.

Professor David Gann CBE
VP of Innovation at Imperial College London
Pete Newell
Managing Partner at BMNT

Pete Newell is the managing partner of BMNT, a Silicon Valley based company that helps organizations build evidence-based, data driven innovation pipelines that are accountable for delivering solutions to hard problems. He is a co-author of “Hacking for Defense,” a platform that merged the rapid problem-solving techniques curated on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan with the Lean Start-up methodology developed by Steve Blank in Silicon Valley. He continues serves as a senior advisor to the Stanford University Hacking for Defense graduate course.

Pete Newell
Managing Partner at BMNT
Cristobal Garcia-Herrera
Corporate Acceleration Initiative Lead

Cristobal Garcia-Herrera is the Corporate Acceleration Initiative Lead at Imperial College London, an Assistant Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship at the P. Universidad Católica of Chile and an External Faculty at Columbia's Center on Organizational Innovation. Cristobal is the founder of two start-ups and of Jump Chile, one of the largest business model accelerators in Higher Education worldwide. Previously at PwC, he advised Fortune 100 companies on change and innovation management. Cristobal is a social scientist with an MSc at MIT and a Ph.D. candidate at Imperial’s Dyson School of Design Engineering.

Cristobal Garcia-Herrera
Corporate Acceleration Initiative Lead
Joanne Czekalowska
Director, Acquisition Integration Europe at IBM

Joanne Czekalowska has over 20 years experience of M&A, integrating nearly over 90 companies, mainly in software and services. As part of this she leads broader business change programmes, such as Data Privacy and is involved in newer opportunities such as applying agile working methodologies and corporate venturing with private equity. She is a recognised integration expert in Europe, speaking at events and as a judge for the Mergermarket European M&A Awards. Starting out in Finance, she has developed broad business change experience, working across a variety of industries and countries. She is an Independent Member of a Board Committee for a large UK Housing Association.

Joanne Czekalowska
Director, Acquisition Integration Europe at IBM
Professor Bart Clarysse
Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship at ETH Zürich, Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship at Imperial College London Business School

Bart Clarysse holds the Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship at ETH Zürich and is a visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship at Imperial College London Business School. His research focuses on understanding how technology ventures develop during industry incubation periods and how market and technical uncertainty determine strategies of resource mobilization and governance in technology ventures. He also helps corporates to develop entrepreneurial bootcamps, acceleration projects and initiatives to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking.

Professor Bart Clarysse
Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship at ETH Zürich, Visiting Professor in Entrepreneurship at Imperial College London Business School
Tanja Kufner
Partner at MHP (a Porsche Company) and Co-Founder of dynamics.vc

Tanja Kufner is Partner at MHP and responsible for its startup and investment programs. She’s co-founder of dynamics.vc and stage-agnostic programs for growing innovative companies in the mobility, AI, IoT, cyber security, fintech, and smart cities sectors. Prior to MHP, she was the Managing Director of Startupbootcamp Smart Transportation & Energy in Berlin where she has worked with companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Cisco, here, Airbus, DB, Kühne + Nagel, Vinci, EnBW, SBB, and more. Before SBC, she was Director of the Wayra Academy in Munich, and she has over 20 years of experience in the areas of Venture Capital, Management Consulting, and Telecommunications.

Tanja Kufner
Partner at MHP (a Porsche Company) and Co-Founder of dynamics.vc
Deborah Hubscher
Digital Innovation Lead at Shell Chemicals

Deborah Hubscher is Digital Innovation Lead for Shell Chemicals, one of the Downstream businesses of Royal Dutch Shell. She drives Digital strategy and change management globally and is responsible for all pilot and acceleration programs in Shell Chemicals. Deborah is a recognised energy industry professional with extensive commercial and strategic experience and an engineering background. She focuses on how emerging technologies and business model innovation can help tackle industry frictions and is passionate about inspiring employees to become more entrepreneurial.

Deborah Hubscher
Digital Innovation Lead at Shell Chemicals
Leo Brand
CIO at Vopak

After obtaining an MBA in Economics, Leo Brand started his career at KLM, where he worked in different positions for 8 years. After KLM, he became manager at the strategic consultancy firm A.T. Kearney. Later on he became one of the founders of Adcore Strategy, where he took the helm as managing director. Brand was the pioneer in commercializing Wifi in the early days and founded Megabeam in London which was sold to Swisscom where he also was the CEO for almost twelve years. Nowadays he is Vopak’s CIO since 2014 and is involved in different start-ups. He is currently also a Supervisory Board Member at Innovation Quarter and PortXL, a global port accelerator platform.

Leo Brand
CIO at Vopak
Michael Nichols
Manager Business Model Innovation / Global Lead Bosch Accelerator Program

Michael Nichols joined Bosch in 2014 via the Leadership Development Program and has been working in the field of business model innovation since 2015. Michael is now responsible for the Bosch Accelerator Program and for the implementation of a Bosch-wide innovation process with a clear focus on developing an ambidextrous organization to bring more innovation ideas beyond the core business to scale. The Bosch Accelerator Program has systematically (in)validated over 100 innovation projects in its first two years.

Michael Nichols
Manager Business Model Innovation / Global Lead Bosch Accelerator Program
Auriol Stevens
Global IT Director - Applied Technology at Unilever

Auriol is currently the Global IT Director of the Applied Technology Group at Unilever. The group brings expertise on the application of technology to new and existing business models, working globally with the IT leaders from each Geography within which the company operates. Auriol also a Director of the VTC Group (now trading as Inogesis) after 3.5 years as the company’s CEO. Inogesis helps blue-chip organisations and large government departments harness disruptive technologies to drive new revenues or overcome challenges. Auriol is also a Director at Restoration Partners, the technology merchant bank from which Inogesis was spun out in 2015.

Auriol Stevens
Global IT Director - Applied Technology at Unilever
Björn Grindberg
Regional Lead Startup Programme European Institute of Technology (EIT) at Climate-KIC

Björn manages the startup activities for EIT Climate-KIC, Europe’s largest climate innovation initiative in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The accelerator programme has helped the likes of Climeworks, Lilium Aviation or Tado° in levering over €450m worth of external investment and supports clean-tech teams active across e-mobility, renewable energy, energy efficiency, water, resource and waste management and beyond. Björn has held senior positions in consultancy (Arthur D. Little), logistics (DB Schenker), telco & media (Millicom/Tigo) and he has worked with startups in three different continents.

Björn Grindberg
Regional Lead Startup Programme European Institute of Technology (EIT) at Climate-KIC
Sascha Karimpour
Director Startup Autobahn founded by Daimler, Plug&Play and Stuttgart University

Based in Stuttgart and as part of Europe’s biggest innovation platform Startup Autobahn, Sascha Karimpour established and has been heading Plug & Play Germany GmbH since 2016 as Managing Director while bringing the Silicon Valley Spirit to Germany, developing efficient frameworks for corporate/startup collaboration as well as finding investment opportunities.

In Germany Plug & Play is now represented in 4 locations running 7 theme-specific acceleration programs in Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin covering the topics RetailTech, Healthcare, Insurtech, Fintech, Energy and Supply Chain.

Sascha Karimpour
Director Startup Autobahn founded by Daimler, Plug&Play and Stuttgart University
Dan Toma
Author of The Corporate Startup

Dan Toma is an innovation thought leader and the co-author of the award winning book 'The Corporate Startup’ (published by Vakmedien in 2017 and awarded ‘Management Book of the Year for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’ by Chartered Management Institute and The British Library in 2018). Dan started his career in entrepreneurship, being involved with technology startups across the world.

Dan Toma
Author of The Corporate Startup
Professor Tony Young OBE
National Clinical Lead for Innovation NHS England

Tony is a practicing frontline NHS surgeon, Director of Medical Innovation at Anglia Ruskin University, and has founded 4 Med-Tech start-ups. He has also co-founded the £500m Anglia Ruskin MedTech Campus.

In 2014 he was appointed as National Clinical Director for Innovation at NHS England and in February 2016 became the first National Clinical Lead for Innovation. In 2015 he founded the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur programme. In the 2019 New Year's Honours list Tony was awarded the OBE for services to clinical leadership.

Professor Tony Young OBE
National Clinical Lead for Innovation NHS England
Koenraad Debackere
Professor of Innovation Economics at KU Leuven

Koenraad Debackere is professor of innovation economics at KU Leuven since 1995.
He is executive director and board member of KU Leuven and KU Leuven R&D, and chair of the Gemma Frisius Fund, the seed capital fund of BNP Paribas Fortis, KBC and KU Leuven R&D. He has been a member of the EIT Health supervisory board since 2015. His research interests relate to measuring the economic impact of investments in science, technology and innovation. He is a member of AWTI, the Council on Science, Technology and Innovation of the Dutch government, and of the Hochschulrat of RWTH Aachen.

Koenraad Debackere
Professor of Innovation Economics at KU Leuven
Claire Cockerton
Serial entrepreneur

Claire Cockerton is a serial entrepreneur and specialist in building technology innovation centres. Claire has founded Plexal, based on the Olympic Park; LORCA, the London Office for Rapid Cyber Security Innovation; Level39, London’s fintech accelerator; Innovate Finance, the UK’s Fintech trade body and ENTIQ an innovation advisory firm. She is a leader in the design and activation of city spaces which support entrepreneurs, corporate innovation agendas and the development of new technology economies. Member of the City of London’s Guild of Entrepreneurs, the Royal Society of the Arts, and the 4th most influential woman in UK tech by Computer Weekly.

Claire Cockerton
Serial entrepreneur
Tony Collins
Director, UK Defense & Security Accelerator (DASA)

Tony is experienced civil servant and engineer with an extensive background in innovation, international trade, and national security science and technology. He has led policy development, reviews and operational delivery in all of these areas.

His current post is as the International Innovation Partner for the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA). Previously he was Head of Cyber Security Growth, Innovation and Research in DCMS and prior to that the Assistant Director for India and Central Asia in UKTI DSO.

Tony Collins
Director, UK Defense & Security Accelerator (DASA)
Professor Erkko Autio
Chair in Technology Venturing at Imperial College Business School

Erkko Autio is Chair in Technology Venturing at Imperial College Business School. He is a globally leading authority on digital entrepreneurial ecosystems, digital innovation ecosystems, and comparative entrepreneurship. He has been cited in The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, MSNBC, and in some 400-500 news media globally and in some 30 000 academic articles. He has worked widely with industry and government in Europe, Asia and South America. He was recently recognised as one of the top 50 most impactful management scholars globally (Aguinis et al, 2012).

Professor Erkko Autio
Chair in Technology Venturing at Imperial College Business School
David Hengartner
Head of Intrapreneurship & Innovation Lab Manager, Swisscom

David is heading Swisscom Kickbox, the bottom-up intrapreneurship program at Swisscom, Switzerland’s leading telco company and one of its leading IT companies. He fosters the internal innovation culture and empowers employees to experience “Lean Startup” methodologies by validating their start-up ideas. Employees get a project budget, work time, an innovation booklet and access to internal experts and external service providers.

Besides his job, David is teaching the “Lean Startup Academy” course at ETH Zurich, where Master/PhD students test business ideas and start their entrepreneurial adventure.

David Hengartner
Head of Intrapreneurship & Innovation Lab Manager, Swisscom
Cansu Deniz Bayrak
Partner at Bethnal Green Ventures

Cansu is an early-stage impact investor at Bethnal Green Ventures where she leads partnerships. Previously she was with Startupbootcamp, first running their MENA branch in conjunction with a $10M microfund in Istanbul then their IoT programme in London. She has been in tech industry both as a founder and a facilitator. Her background is in international politics and humanitarian law, before going into the tech industry she was with IGOs and NGOs like Amnesty International, the Council of Europe, and the UN. Currently based in London, she is an alumnus of UK Government's Tier 1 Tech Nation Exceptional Talent in Digital Technology programme.

Cansu Deniz Bayrak
Partner at Bethnal Green Ventures
Vincenzo Tomarchio
R&D Associate Director at P&G

Vincenzo has 20+ years of management experience in R&D at P&G in the Fabric & Home Care industry. He has worked in Italy and Latin America, and is currently located in Belgium. Married with two kids.

His special areas of passion and experience are: innovation management, product / technology and process design, consumer & market research, where he bridges technical competences with business acumen. He is currently the R&D Process leader for Soluble Unit Dose detergent with responsibility for platform management and innovation as well people and organization development. He is also working to strengthen P&G Innovation ecosystem in Europe though Incubator/Accelerator and lean innovation practices.

Vincenzo Tomarchio
R&D Associate Director at P&G
Cees-Willem Koorneef
Director at PortXL Antwerp

Cees-Willem has over 30 years’ experience in Ports. His roles with Dutch Customs and Port of Rotterdam Authorities has gathered him a large international network and insight in both private and public maritime parties. Connecting and coaching companies and governmental agencies is his focus. As director PORTXL Antwerp he is excited to help speeding up the ‘Harbour of Things’ in Antwerp. PORTXL is known as the 1st world port accelerator. Scouting relevant global maritime start-ups and matching them with corporates companies in the Ports, increasing value and finally truly accelerating together, is what Ports need nowadays.

Cees-Willem Koorneef
Director at PortXL Antwerp
Martin Agnew
Senior Manager - R&T Disruptive Concepts, Airbus Defence and Space

Martin has over 30 years of experience in research, and its commercialisation into products, systems and services for commercial, governmental & military customers. His current responsibilities include leading the Disruptive Concepts activities in Airbus Defence & Space, setting up the Airbus office in the Imperial College Innovations Hub White City, and championing ' Open Innovations 2.0'. His expertise is mainly in telecommunications (RF & Optical), and, despite his senior management responsibilities, still designs & leads technology teams ideally spending one day per week in the lab!

Martin Agnew
Senior Manager - R&T Disruptive Concepts, Airbus Defence and Space
Phoebe Thacker
Senior IT Manager (ex Programme Manager for AI Accelerator) at Unilever

Phoebe has been with Unilever for 4 years, where she has worked in multiple roles applying technology to solve business challenges. Underpinning each of her roles, Phoebe has specialised in applying artificial intelligence, blockchain and mixed reality to rapidly enable Unilever to save time, reduce cost and increase impact. In her previous role, Phoebe lead the Unilever Artificial Intelligence Accelerator. A board sponsored initiative, with the challenge of unlocking the value of Artificial Intelligence for the Unilever business.

Phoebe Thacker
Senior IT Manager (ex Programme Manager for AI Accelerator) at Unilever
Professor Christopher Tucci
Professor of Corporate Strategy & Innovation, College of Management of Technology, EPFL

Christopher Tucci is Professor of Management of Technology at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), where he holds the Chair in Corporate Strategy & Innovation. He is Visiting Professor of Innovation at Imperial College London and Visiting Thought Leader at CEIBS in Shanghai, China. His primary area of interest is in how firms make transitions to new business models, technologies, and organizational forms. He also studies crowdsourcing, Internetworking, and digital innovations.

Professor Christopher Tucci
Professor of Corporate Strategy & Innovation, College of Management of Technology, EPFL
Faizan Patankar
Venturing and Incubation Lead, R² Data Labs, Rolls-Royce

Faizan has over eight years of experience in delivering end-to-end of data centric engineering projects to top tier customers in the aerospace, and power generation industries globally. He currently leads Venturing and Incubation activities for R2 Data Labs at Rolls-Royce. His role involves connecting, collaborating and commercialising solutions with highly capable and exciting start-ups who are ready to solve some of the biggest industrial problems in the field of advanced analytics, IOT, and Artificial Intelligence.

Faizan Patankar
Venturing and Incubation Lead, R² Data Labs, Rolls-Royce
Jamie Rowles
Head of Investments at Sky Ocean Ventures

Jamie Rowles is Head of Investments at Sky Ocean Ventures, joining in 2018 to lead the fund’s investment processes and portfolio management. Sky Ocean Ventures is a media-powered impact investment fund with a mission to invest in and accelerate new science and technology that can address the ocean plastic crisis. Prior to Sky, Jamie worked as an investor at technology investments funds in both the UK and US, focusing on a broad array of technology sectors and has been part of the founding team of an impact-focused start-up around tropical crop health.

Jamie Rowles
Head of Investments at Sky Ocean Ventures
Professor Markus Perkmann
Head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department at Imperial College Business School

Professor Markus Perkmann is the head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department at Imperial College Business School, and academic director of Imperial’s Enterprise Lab. He has published widely on subjects including the business of science, science-driven entrepreneurship and university-industry collaboration. Previously, he was head of innovation and strategy at technology start-up company Greychip.

Professor Markus Perkmann
Head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department at Imperial College Business School
Stephen Burke
Coach at Airbus BizLab

Stephen coaches Startups and Intrapreneur projects in the Airbus BizLab global Aerospace Accelerator. Stephen has a long background in aerospace in large scale development projects and production and is himself an experienced founder. His key area of interest and specialty is developing Leaders to have their most impactful and fulfilling positive impact in their lives, their work, and in the world. Within the Airbus BizLab, Stephen has responsibility for defining the BizLab Coach profile and developing their Coaches.

Stephen Burke
Coach at Airbus BizLab
Robin Melvin
Head of Innovation, Blue Lab, EDF Energy

I have worked for major brands in the UK in the financial, telecoms, media, utility and advertising sectors for more than 30 years.

I focus on business strategy and communications in the main. My current responsibilities at EDF Energy are to make a difference with an internal accelerator which we started 3 years ago in the retail part of the company.

The business areas we particularly focus on include IoT and the Connected Home or Business; the distributed energy system and assets such as PV, batteries and EVs. We aim for rapid development which we then incubate for the main business at EDF Energy and our French parent.

Robin Melvin
Head of Innovation, Blue Lab, EDF Energy
Professor Peter Childs
Head of the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London

Professor Peter Childs is Head of the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London. His former roles include director of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre for Aero-Thermal Systems, director of InQbate and professor at Sussex University. He has contributed to over 180 papers, and several books on engineering design, rotating flow, rural urban migration and sports technology. He has been principal or co-investigator on contracts totalling £80 million. He is Founder Director and Chief Scientific Officer at QBot Ltd.

Professor Peter Childs
Head of the Dyson School of Design Engineering at Imperial College London

Toolkits

Kick Box

Innovation Pipeline

Industry-Led
Acceleration Design

The 4 steps for industry-led accelerator design are 1.Create a funnel for innovation supply, 2. Flexible Matching, 3. Mutual Sensing, 4. Scaling engagement &  investment

Benchmark Survey for Corporate Acceleration
(in progress)

Key process and people challenges within corporate accelerators. Main issues that top management have with corporate accelerators,

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