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SC Ventures: Embracing Intrapreneurship to Foster Internal Innovation

Alex Manson, Head of SC Ventures

This article was first published on January 19, 2023.

There are many ways an organisation can promote innovation to serve their customers, and intrapreneurship is one that SC Ventures choose to champion.

“The concept of intrapreneurship is anchored in our belief that solutions to seemingly intractable customer challenges often reside within the bank’s workforce itself. No one is more well-placed to solve these challenges than our employees; they work closely with customers and clients daily, and as a result, have a deep understanding of needs,” explains Alex Manson, Head of SC Ventures, in an email to e27.

“However, it isn’t always easy to bring these ideas to life and this is something that intrapreneurship addresses directly. With intrapreneurship, we are putting our people and their ideas first, providing them with everything from mentorship to capital, to help bring these concepts to fruition. Intrapreneurship is also Standard Chartered’s commitment to fast-tracking innovation from within — allowing employees to tap into the bank’s significant resources to sandbox and scale their projects.”

To realise this vision, the company is running the SC Ventures FinTech Bridge, a platform that was initially developed to facilitate the sourcing of tech solutions within Standard Chartered. Designed to bridge the disconnect between startups, experts, and corporates, according to Manson, the programme is now a borderless community that is open to portfolio companies as well as aspiring founders in Standard Chartered.

Since its inception in 2018, the platform has seen over 2,800 members; 34 challenges seeking tech solutions, expertise, or investors; 20 pitches in the Pitch Arena; and more than 140 connections made.

In this interview, Manson explains to e27 how SC Ventures implement intrapreneurship within its organisation and the kind of opportunities it is looking for in 2023.

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A deeper dig into intrapreneurship

Manson explains further about the intrapreneurship model that SC Ventures implemented, starting from the reason behind its founding.

“Our intrapreneurship model is designed to empower employees to solve problems, improve the status quo, and to create new business models. The programme is standardised and modular so business and functional leaders can easily engage with the Intrapreneurship Programme – and engagement of Intrapreneurs and business/functional sponsors speaks to the success of the programme,” he says.

“For Intrapreneurs who are looking to create a new business, our model is designed to ensure that our potential founders are given the wherewithal to endure uncertainties and remain resilient in the global economy. SC Ventures ensures that the innovations pioneered by our Intrapreneur Venture Leads will lay the foundation of the new economy,” he continues.

The process of participating in the programme is as follows:

“Our FinTech Bridge programme forms a core tenet of our intrapreneurship model, as we continuously welcome new ideas by having challenges and encouraging individuals and teams to submit their proposals on an ad-hoc basis,” Manson explains.

Once a proposal is submitted to the SC Ventures FinTech Bridge, the intrapreneur induction process kicks off. Individuals or teams with interesting solutions to an existing problem statement are put through a bootcamp to prepare them for a panel pitch. This bootcamp includes rigorous rounds of refinement, research, validation, wireframing, and prototyping processes which will be incorporated into the final panel pitch.

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Prior to their panel pitch, successful candidates will gain access to SC Ventures’ coaches. Following the pitch, they will have access to additional resources beyond just funding, such as Incubation Coaches and Industry Experts.

A pitch is being reviewed based on the following indicators:
– Does the idea solve a problem for the bank (internally) or the wider industry (externally)?
– Is the idea both feasible and viable?
– Is the idea crazy? Does it have the potential to disrupt the sector?
– What will the intrapreneur learn from this programme? Are they highly committed and engaged?

It is important to note that fulfilling just one of these criteria is enough for an idea to be accepted into the programme. Upon completion of the curriculum, the intrapreneur’s pitch is assessed using the same standards applied to any startup or funding pitch.

The programme has developed successful case studies such as Cardspal, a one-stop daily lifestyle app operating in Singapore.

But like many other initiatives, implementing entrepreneurship in an organisation comes with its own challenges.

“More often than not, intrapreneurship programmes within big organisations fail because of a lack of discipline and structure – the kind that SC Ventures brings to the table. Aside from bringing bank-level expertise and resources to aspiring intrapreneurs, we provide intrapreneurs with certified coaches that guide them through a standardised journey with a proven, tried-and-tested methodology that ultimately results in a VC-ready pitch,” Manson explains.

“Our programme is both standardised and modular, which means that we can flex, experiment and pivot as we learn and the programme evolves. With a more structured approach to managing the programme, we have the ability to look at each aspect of the programme and enhance it.”

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What is next for SC Ventures

When asked about what is next for SC Ventures, Manson starts by explaining the organisation’s stance on new, exciting verticals such as Web3.

“SC Ventures sees Web3 as the frontier of the new economy and today, we have several intrapreneurs in our programme tackling the challenges and developing solutions in this space. As the ecosystem surrounding blockchain, crypto, non-fungible tokens, and other digital assets continues to evolve, we have seen promising new ideas revolving around the future of these concepts,” he says.

“In general, we don’t want to narrow our focus on a specific type of innovation and look only at on-trend solutions and technologies. By doing that, we would blind ourselves to opportunities that may come from other areas.”

As the year 2022 draws to a close, Manson also shares plans for the next year.

“We intend to double down on our Intrapreneurship Programme, refining the curriculum to be even more user- and outcome-focused. We want to ensure that the employees involved have a fantastic experience, learn exceptionally valuable skills and feel rewarded for having the courage to join the programme and complete the process,” he explains.

“For 2023 onwards, SC Ventures is exploring offering Intrapreneurship-as-a-Service to Standard Chartered’s clients. We currently have one Proof-of-Concept (PoC) in action and will be kicking off the second in November 2022. Thus far, the first PoC has received excellent feedback from the client and we’re looking to extend this service to more, effectively inculcating a culture of deeper collaboration, co-creation and innovation in the wider financial services sector,” he closes.

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Image Credit: SC Ventures

The article was first published on January 19, 2023.

The post On intrapreneurship: Why SC Ventures believes in building innovation from within appeared first on e27.

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