In today’s Wall Street Journal, there is a good article about South Bend, Indiana-based Memorial Hospital’s Innovation Cafe. The article starts off…
Hungry visitors to Memorial Hospital here sometimes cross the street to its Innovation Café, lured by the outdoor patio with white metal tables and chairs. Inside, however, all they find is fake food and a blackboard listing “recipes” such as “Basic Ingredients for Innovation.”
The Innovation Café is an unusual teaching laboratory created by Philip A. Newbold, the veteran chief executive of this midsize community hospital and health system. He converted a failed delicatessen into a venue where staffers and outsiders can learn to craft new ideas.
In the middle of the article, there are some interesting facts and figures…
He persuaded his employer to become the first U.S. community hospital with an innovation research-and-development budget. The board committed up to 1% of annual revenue for innovation activities. That equals about $4 million a year. The hospital ended up spending just $195,000 in 2005, $622,000 in 2006 and $711,000 in 2007 on innovation efforts such as venture start-up costs and staff training. But the increase in related operating profit was as much as three times the annual expenditure.
These innovation incubators are a great idea.
But, as the article mentions, the one challenge that can result is too many ideas. That is why I am a proponent of combining this concept with an Innovation Center of Excellence and “challenge-based” innovation. To learn more about these concepts, read my article in the European Business Forum. In fact, while you are at it, read all of my innovation articles.