Navigating a rapidly changing technology landscape isn’t easy, and it can be especially challenging for innovators inside large organisations to access the contextual intelligence, strategic relationships, and broad-ranging deal flow they need to drive strategy forward. That’s where Silicon Foundry comes in. Silicon Foundry is an innovation advisory firm that helps companies navigate new technologies and market shifts, discover and engage with key emerging leaders, and unlock high impact customer, partnership, investment, co-creation, and acquisition opportunities. We spoke to CEO Neal Hansch about how the company catalyses opportunities and accelerates change to push the frontier of what’s possible.
Tell Us About Silicon Foundry. How Did the Company Come to Be?
Silicon Foundry was founded in 2013 in response to a clear need our founders saw in the market: that leading corporations the world over were struggling to fully identify and leverage external innovation. Pressure to demonstrate quarterly earnings made it challenging for companies to take a longer view of innovation strategy. A noisy start-up ecosystem often made it hard to identify which emerging players were worth selectively engaging with. Although corporations looked to partner with start-ups, information asymmetry and fundamental diﬀerences in scale and pacing hindered their ability to work together. Silicon Foundry was built to solve that by serving as a bridge between corporates, start-ups, investors, and others in the innovation ecosystem.
I joined Silicon Foundry in 2017 because I found the firm’s work at the intersection of new markets, business models, and corporate/start-up partnerships tremendously compelling. Silicon Foundry offered a unique opportunity for me to leverage my own personal background in investing, entrepreneurship, and corporate development to architect opportunities for our Members.
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What Does Innovation Advisory Work Look Like in Practice?
All of our work is guided by our Members’ specific goals. While all of our Members are keen to leverage best-of-breed emerging solutions, some are interested in going further and identifying partnership and co-creation opportunities. Others are actively investing in or acquiring startups. We make that possible by sourcing contextual intelligence that helps our Members make decisions, offering tailored advice on how to respond to emerging technologies, and leveraging our network to make powerful introductions and surface strategic opportunities.
What Emerging Technologies and Trends Should Businesses Be Planning For?
It’s in corporations’ best interest to take a hard look at emerging and maturing technologies on the horizon—think cryptocurrency and blockchain, IoT, quantum computing, and AR/VR, just to name a few—and evaluate how those technologies might impact their businesses. It’s also important to remember that technology innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum: economic and social forces shape the impact those technologies have in the world. When we advise Members on how to prepare for the future, we evaluate how all those forces operate in tandem—that’s what enables us to determine the steps companies can take today in order to future-proof their businesses.