Now more than ever, big companies realize they must continuously innovate to survive. It's famously been said that software is eating the world, and we see technology-native startups licking their lips, preparing to make a meal of enterprises that are slow to adopt new technologies and business models. From automotive to insurance to retail and everywhere in between, innovative startups are attacking slower-moving incumbents – and the stakes are nothing less than survival. To arm themselves in this competition, it's no surprise that big companies are fighting fire with fire. And the hottest weapon du jour in corporate innovation is the corporate accelerator.

Accelerators are on the rise, with now thousands of programs established around the world since Y Combinator started as the first modern accelerator in 2005, and more are popping up every day. In the past few years, the surge in accelerators run by large corporations is astounding. It seems that every corporate innovation team feels the need to have an accelerator as part of its innovation program.

However, while intentions are good, most corporate accelerators are not achieving the intended results. Sixty percent of corporate accelerators fail within two years, and partnerships with the participating companies are achieved less than 1% of the time.1 Corporate accelerators are often seen as “innovation theater,” one of several cliché and ineffective innovation initiatives that do not produce results and are ...

Get Designing the Successful Corporate Accelerator now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.