Master Thesis on KPI-Guided Management of Corporate Innovation Hubs in the Energy Industry

Under the supervision of ESTT staff, the Master Thesis “KPI-Guided Management of Corporate Innovation Hubs in the Energy Industry” was recently finished. Here is the abstract:

The emergence of open innovation has transformed the way innovation is managed in established corporations. Especially in today’s competitive market environment, characterized by an unprecedented pace of innovation and ever shorter innovation cycles, companies need to apply creative solutions to manage their innovation activities. Innovation hubs are often the solution of choice for tackling this challenge. They allow companies to effectively manage external cooperation by opening up the innovation process and incorporating the entrepreneurial spirit of start-ups and the knowledge of researchers. Current research on innovation hubs primarily focuses on the application in open source and IT, yet there has been little research on how innovation hubs operate in capital-intensive industries. Furthermore, while the governance of innovation hubs is often discussed, no concrete management model has been proposed. This thesis adds to the literature body by proposing a KPI model for innovation hubs and providing an energy industry-specific perspective. According to the research conducted, the main reasons why companies manage corporate innovation hubs are to accelerate the innovation process, to initiate cultural transformation within the company, as well as to integrate external knowledge and to rebrand the company image on the external market. Building on these findings, strategic dimensions for the management model are proposed, namely financial & market, innovation & technology, and culture & learning. These are complemented by organizing KPIs along the innovation stage-gate process. The resulting KPI model proposes 35 unique KPIs that are recommended for managing innovation hubs in the energy industry. However, a major conclusion suggests that innovation hubs should not be treated as regular business units. Innovations need a protected environment to develop until they can be evaluated using common organizational indicators since the stringent use of KPIs and management by objectives would hamper innovative capacity.