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INNOVATION LABS


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Many media owners are experimenting with project startups, created in ‘innovation labs’. And rather than waiting for ‘disruptors’ to rat le their cages, they are producing their own pop-up ventures and using established channels and audiences to deliver them, reports Karen Taylor.


M 20 | Magazine World | issue 84_2014


agazine media has come a long way since it initially cold-shouldered the internet and its disruptors. Media owners found, often to


their cost, that an impervious stance just didn’t work. The floodgates opened and left many battling against tsunami tides Now, however, the industry has moved on through the subsequent cycles of despair and acceptance. Today, the spark is back, and it’s all about innovation – not just jumping on the latest web wagons, but knocking them out fast in innovation laboratories. Finnish publisher Sanoma’s lab was inspired


by Silicon Valley. Says Lassi Kurkijärvi, director of innovation: “We used to take too long thinking up new products. We made grand designs and then spent a lot of time building them. Of course, the results weren’t always what the business plan predicted when real consumers got the products in their hands. What we saw happening outside was this big


start-up movement where speed was of the essence. We realised that making had become much less expensive than planning and we wanted to see if we could pinch a method from the Silicon Valley startup accelerators. We saw that we could do this internally as well. And that’s when we started up our first mobile accelerator programme two years ago. Since then, we’ve done seven of these accelerator programmes – and they are still one of the key activities of the lab.” The Sanoma innovation lab was established at the start of this year. “Of course, like many others, a lot of our previous innovation programmes were heavy on the PowerPoint and less heavy on the action,” says Kurkijärvi. In Germany, similar experiments were bubbling. Axel Springer initiated “strategic product development” in mid-2012, with the operation becoming fully operational at the beginning of 2013. “The [initiative] was based on the rationale that innovation as part of existing brands is often hampered by ongoing


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