Corporate Innovation/News/ Wazoku buys US rival to enter North American market UK idea management software company raises £1.25m to support expansion By Maija Palmer 10 July 2020 Photo by @timowielink on Unsplash Photo by @timowielink on Unsplash \Corporate Innovation Purrsonalised health: The startups and VCs betting on pet genetics By Adam Green 15 September 2022 Corporate Innovation/News/ Wazoku buys US rival to enter North American market UK idea management software company raises £1.25m to support expansion By Maija Palmer 10 July 2020 Idea management company Wazoku is making a push into the US — and is trying to corner the market for ideas both inside and outside companies. The UK company, which helps clients like John Lewis, Barclays and the UK Ministry of Defence tap their employees for good ideas, has bought US open innovation company InnoCentive, which offers companies access to a network of 500,000 experts they can tap into for help solving problems. InnoCentive spun out of Eli Lilly in 2005 “We’ve always been pretty good at helping businesses engage with their employees but now we are able to help them access on demand this new cohort,” said Simon Hill, founder and chief executive of Wazoku. “We were also looking for a springboard to take the business into North America, and this will give us that as well.” Wazoku also raised a new funding round of £1.25m led by Calculus Capital. Hill says the round will give the company support for its US expansion, and he hopes it will be a precursor to a bigger funding round next year. Hill says that despite some big companies halting innovation spending during the pandemic, overall Wazoku has seen sales nearly double in the three months from April to June, the company’s best quarter from a new business perspective. Idea management software was already becoming popular at companies before the pandemic. But online collaboration tools saw particularly high demand when companies had to suddenly switch to remote working. “There has been a shift away from using our software for ideation on long term, big projects to doing things today and quickly putting together ideas for all the things they need to do to, for example, virtualise their call centre,” says Hill. Customers include AstraZeneca, NASA and Enel InnoCentive was initially created as a project at pharmaceuticals company Eli Lilly, creating a network of scientists who could help the company solve tricky problems on an ad hoc basis. It spun out in 2005, and now has a formalised process where companies can post their problems or challenges on the network, and a network of expert “thinkers and tinkerers” are invited to come up with solutions. If an expert solves a challenge they can claim a reward from the company, ranging from a few thousand dollars to over $100,000, depending on the complexity of the challenge. The platform has been used by companies such as AstraZeneca, NASA and Enel, and InnoCentive claims it has an over 80% success rate in solving problems. “It was one of the early examples of the gig economy, for experts,” says Hill. Related Articles Waitrose: £10m in annual cost savings through innovation By Maija Palmer Click here to read more Listening to employees equals higher profits By Maija Palmer Click here to read more The Sifted guide to innovation consultancies By Kimberly Eynon Click here to read more Most Read 1 \Startup Life UK government to reform ‘equity for visas’ residency application system 2 \Fintech Is Revolut really worth $33bn right now? 3 \Startup Life Techstars unexpectedly pulls out of Sweden mid-programme 4 \Deeptech The other funding gap: it’s not just unicorns that are leaving Europe 5 \Deeptech ‘There’s going to be a bloodbath’ — is generative AI a bubble?