A quiet transformation has been happening in the world of big business innovation, one that has, until now, been overshadowed by the much louder start-up revolution.

Corporate innovators are launching winning new products, services and businesses created with purpose, from 3D mirrors that help consumers make in-store purchase decisions at Rigby & Peller, to new ventures like Future Lab that turned LEGO into the biggest toy manufacturer in the world (2014).

These propositions are designed to have impact and those responsible are seeking, and gaining, recognition for them. Corporate entrepreneurs are hungrier than ever for success, both commercial and personal. And a drive to deliver new experiences is appearing across all sectors, not just among disruptive-startups-turned-digital-giants like Google and Amazon. So what do these innovators have in common? How are they driving a culture shift at board level, finally breaking the constraints of business as usual?

Characteristics of successful corporate entrepreneurs

  • Customer-centricity – Successful corporate entrepreneurs are more focused than ever on customer insight, realigning their businesses to deliver exceptional propositions
  • Boldness – They enjoy stepping outside of their comfort zone to challenge their thinking and take purposeful risks to create commercial opportunities
  • Empowerment – Individuals and teams working in innovation are winning their boards’ trust, gaining recognition that failure is a necessary part of the innovation process

Tami Hargreaves, Digital Consumer Payments for bPay, at Barclaycard, winner of the Innovators’ Choice Award at the recent Market Gravity Corporate Entrepreneur Awards, advises, “…learn fast, be brave, be courageous and allow yourself to fail, but learn quickly from it. Course-correct and pivot”.

Embedding the role of the corporate entrepreneur

Corporate entrepreneurs are establishing and defining their roles within their businesses, with commercial growth at the forefront of their minds.

It’s not about clichéd teams in skunkworks, dressing down, sitting on beanbags and breaking the rules – these intrapreneurs work across all functions, from strategy to proposition design, technical and beyond.

Putting innovation at the heart of business

As innovation becomes embedded throughout their businesses, intrapreneurs are causing a corporate cultural shift and seeking recognition for the role they play in growing their businesses.

It’s not just about ‘me too’ products – they want to change their industries and the world with new innovations and ventures. Genuine, purposeful market disruption is on the cards from big businesses.

So what do we expect successful corporate entrepreneurs to be driving in 2016?

  • Greater emphasis on innovation culture, codifying innovation as a core pillar of their businesses
  • More incubation and acceleration to develop winning innovations in-house or in partnership
  • Increased emphasis on the customer, incorporating customers into the development process earlier and in wider, more creative ways, from co-creation to competitions and more


The big business revolution is finally stepping out of the start-up shadow and is only going to get louder.

What are you driving forward in 2016? What other traits do you think successful corporate entrepreneurs have? Let us know @Market_Gravity.

For the 6th year running, Market Gravity hosted its biggest 2015 Corporate Entrepreneur Awards. Over 400 of Europe’s most creative and disruptive entrepreneurs joined us in London to celebrate big business innovation. We saw a record number of nominations this year, with over 100 submissions across the four independently judged categories. A range of industries were represented across the awards categories, including automotive, charity, oil and gas, beverages, financial services, real estate, hospitality and gambling.

Read about the winning innovations at the 2015 Corporate Entrepreneur Awards here.

Hear what the winners had to say in our highlights film.