Agile Innovation Update – March 2016

Each month we bring you the FreshMinds Agile Innovation Update. This month we’re looking at the rise of corporate/startup partnerships; a new wearable for tracking emotional responses; how Timberland is harnessing consumers in the product development process; and the new challengers set to disrupt the automotive industry.

Corporate/startup partnerships on the rise

It seems that everywhere you look brands are fostering partnerships with startups. The past month alone has seen UBS and Credit Suisse come together to launch their own fintech accelerator and Barclays announce plans to expand its Eagle Labs network to support more aspiring startups. For many brands, corporate/startup partnerships are seen as the silver bullet for bringing truly innovative products and services to market. But is this really the case? And if so, does this spell the end for insight-led innovation? We explored this fascinating issue in a panel debate at the MRS Annual Conference with insight and innovation experts from EE, Argos and Hachette. See what they had to say by reading our blog post from the event.

The wearable that measures your emotions

Is a new way of measuring emotion on the horizon? Yes – if Lightwave is to be believed. The US-based technology firm has developed a clever wearable which tracks biological responses to external stimulus including heart rate, motion and changes in the electrical activity of the skin. The technology was recently used to measure how filmgoers reacted to the Oscar-winning film, The Revenant, with everything from heart-pounding moments to instances where viewers were rendered motionless being measured by the technology. As an unobtrusive way of capturing behavioural data, could this be an alternative to traditional neuroscience tools?

Timberland invites customers to shape its next collection

Timberland is taking a novel approach to designing its Craftletic collection. The footwear brand is crowdsourcing consumer feedback on a range of styles through a dedicated public-facing website. The website will enable consumers to vote for their favourite concepts and then comment on everything from the shoes’ materials to their colour to inform future iterations of the design. At the end, Timberland plans to produce a crowdfundable prototype to determine if the product will hit the shelves. In many ways, working with consumers in this way is advantageous. It can drive engagement with the brand and also create an audience for a new product. But there are pitfalls of this approach, as the Natural Environment Research Council found out to its peril this month: Boaty McBoatface is currently the frontrunner in a crowdsourcing competition to name their new polar ship.

A new breed of automotive challengers arrive on the scene

The automotive industry has hit the headlines this month but interestingly it’s not the brand names you might expect that are making the news. Indian brand, Mahindra, announced its first foray into the UK market with plans to bring its electric car, the e2o, to London. At a price of just £13,000, Mahindra hopes to offer a more affordable alternative to current vehicles on the market. Automotive startup, Elio Motors, which hopes to bring fuel-efficient two seaters to the streets, has also received a great deal of press this month: the firm surpassed a $1 billion market valuation after becoming the first equity- crowdfunded company to list its shares on the public markets. Are these signs that the competitive landscape is about to undergo a sea change?