By Matthew Griffin
The pace of disruption is accelerating and organisations, across every sector, and countries of all sizes are feeling its effects – for better or worse. And, as the latest 2016 Global Innovation Index chart below shows we’re in the middle of an innovation arms race.
Over the past five years we’ve seen more organisations investing in, and doubling down on R&D and innovation than ever before in the hope that it will help them protect their company’s fortunes and simultaneously prepare them for what’s ahead.
This directory, combined with the insights provided by this site, aims to shine a light on which companies are the most active, the initiatives they’re focusing on, and the key developments shaking and shaping their sectors.
Globalfuturist 2016 Directory of
Corporate R&D and innovation labs
While the term skunk works has come to refer to any secretive research facility or department, the originator of the term was Lockheed Martin’s off-limits R&D team at their Burbank, CA facility. Origin stories conflict slightly, but their first recognized feat was the design of the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star in just 143 days, in a contained setup away from other engineers. Development of the fighter actually began four months before formal contracts were delivered, a hallmark of the division’s “off the books” modus operandi and part of the rogue culture that continues to define it to this day. Culture is king for innovation and 70+ years later, teams still strive to produce next-gen aircraft innovations that adhere to founder Kelly Johnson’s mantra of “quick, quiet and quality.”
Innovation Lab Name: Deloitte Analytics
Deloitte’s innovation lab takes the established science of analysis into the modern era with a focus on how their analytics teams and technology can deliver real value for customers in new and unexpected ways. Their lab allows clients to present their unique needs to highly efficient teams and quickly learn key takeaways that might have otherwise taken months to do through old methods.
Innovation Lab Name: NextLaw Labs
NextLaw Labs are a global collaborative innovation platform focused on developing, deploying, and investing in new technologies and processes to transform the practice of law around the world. They are interested in building relationships with a wide swath of companies, people and other stakeholders focused on advancing the legal profession in any part of the world.
Innovation Lab Name: Digital Labs
McKinsey Digital Labs uses modern fast-paced, startup-style methodologies like Design Thinking, concept sprints, DevOps, and more to deliver innovative results for their clients based on their specific needs. Their team of 850 designers, data scientists, software specialists, and other experts allows them to scale up their clients’ digital capabilities at high speeds.
Innovation Lab Name: AT&T Labs Advanced Technologies
AT&T Labs Advanced Technologies focuses on data analytics, cloud services, networking, and much more; this venerable lab has won 8 Nobel prizes.
Innovation Lab Name: Nokia Bell Labs
Founded: 1925 (under AT&T)
Nokia’s innovation lab was founded in 1925 under AT&T and its researchers have worked on inventions like lasers, the C programming language, UNIX, speech recognition, and more. It boasts awards including Nobel Prizes, U.S. National Medal of Science, Turing Awards, Kyoto Prizes, and many others.
Innovation Lab Name: Deutsche Telekom Silicon Valley Innovation Center
The experts at T-Mobile’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center focuses on the latest technologies (cloud communications, software-defined Networking, and more) to solve customer problems in creative ways, in an environment that fosters experimentation and new ideas.
Innovation Lab Name: Open Future_
Telefónica Open Future_ aims to detect, develop and encourage technological talent and entrepreneurship in any of its stages. It boosts and expedites the growth of ideas, projects, initiatives, SMEs and bigger companies. Telefónica Open Future_ specialises in each of the stages of the life cycle of a project and, at the same time, its comprehensive nature contributes to a better development of talents and projects, without generating or imposing any limits so they are scalable and successful.
Innovation Lab Name: Vodafone Innovation Park Labs
Vodafone’s Labs are focused on creating the next generation of telecommunications breakthroughs. They perform over 1,000 test projects every year on a network powerful enough to provide mobile coverage for a country the size of Switzerland. Past innovations they’ve worked on include LTE networks, IPv6, and remote file access.
Innovation Lab Name: Verizon Labs
Advances in wireless technology are fuelling a wave of innovation that’s connecting people, places, and things in meaningful new ways – changing the way we live, work, and play. Verizon’s technology platforms, including 4G LTE, are inspiring and enabling new businesses that are built on providing critical wireless enabled services. Our Innovation Centers, co-located with our Innovation Labs in Boston and San Francisco, feature state of the art showcases of visionary ideas, commercial products, and innovative solutions still in progress.
Innovation Lab Name: Phillips Design
Design is at the core of many high-tech companies and innovation labs alike. Phillips Design focuses on new ideas and new technologies to improve the lives of their customers. This lab gives their innovators, who come from a wide array of disciplines, the freedom to explore and find new solutions. These solutions have garnered them Red Dot Awards, Webbies, Singapore Good Design Marks, and more.
The Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris engages in fundamental research in cutting edge areas of science that are relevant for pushing the state of the art in computing. It is a sister laboratory of the Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Tokyo.
Innovation Lab Name: Blue Labs
This newly innovation platform Blue Lab in Brighton in the UK plays an instrumental role in innovation looking to improve the lives of consumers by harnessing the latest technologies, developing energy services or testing the new business models of tomorrow. EDF are really excited about developments which help customers to make smarter decisions around their energy use.
Innovation Lab Name: Capital One Labs
Inspire. Explore. Enable. Deliver. While other industries have undergone major transformation, dramatic change in the financial services industry is decades overdue. Capital One is on a journey to bring ingenuity, simplicity, and humanity back to banking. Money is never just digits on a screen to us – it’s someone’s groceries, first car, new home, or plane tickets home for the holidays. We measure our success by our customer’s success. In short, we’re on a quest to change banking for good.
Innovation Lab Name: Citi Innovation Labs
Citi’s globe-spanning network of innovation labs is designed to speed up work on disruptive products and technologies like IoT and blockchain. They also manage an internal accelerator program (independent of Citi Ventures) and develop strategic partnerships with other companies, startups, and even universities like Stanford, MIT, Columbia, and UC Berkeley.
Innovation Lab Name: Deutsche Bank Labs
Deutsche Bank has plans to open three innovation labs (in Palo Alto, London, and Berlin) where specialized teams will evaluate new technologies and products to roll out to the larger organization. They’ll be partnering with corporations like Microsoft, HCL, and IBM as well as startups to develop these solutions.
Innovation Lab Name: Fidelity Center for Applied Technology (FCAT)
Fidelity’s in-house innovation lab focuses on customer needs and advanced technologies to create new solutions that can range from incremental upgrades to disruptive ideas.
JP Morgan Chase
Innovation Lab Name: FinLab
JP Morgan’s FinLab is a 5-year program, managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation, designed to spur innovations that help Americans save more and improve their credit. Teams work in collaborative groups to develop new financial apps and tools. The program also includes strategic partnerships with groups like Ideo.org and Ideas42.
Innovation Lab Name: Wells Fargo Labs
Wells Fargo’s internal lab brings together product strategists, developers, and project managers to build innovative new products, relying on a lean startup mindset.
Innovation Lab Name: One Market Center
Visa’s innovation lab within One Market Center is designed to offer increased collaboration for teams working on their latest tech solutions. Their projects include tokenization, payment apps, mobile location confirmation, and more.
Innovation Lab Name: Fuse
Cardinal’s Fuse Innovation Center is patient-focused and operates on a startup mentality geared towards creating innovations on an accelerated timescale, then rigorously testing them.
Johnson & Johnson
Innovation Lab Name: Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centers
Johnson & Johnson’s innovation program is pretty much as old as the company itself, but in recent years has taken on a broader approach, combining in-house R&D efforts, partnerships with innovative startups, innovation hubs and incubators around the world, and strategic investments through its venture arm (JJDC).
McKesson and the Mayo Clinic
Innovation Lab Name: Center for Innovation
The Mayo Clinic and McKesson gathered up a team of 60 innovators for their Center and gave them a simple mandate: to think differently about healthcare. The unit’s philosophy/mantra is to “always be there for me [the patient]” as they tackle tough problems like redesign of care models, keeping patients connected to care in their homes and communities, and creating services to optimize health and wellness.
Innovation Lab Name: Wangxiang Blockchain Labs
Wangxiang blockchain labs is a frontier research institution focused on blockchain technology . The lab will gather experts in this field to work on technological development, business applications, industrial strategy and other aspects, to provide guidance for entrepreneurs, and to provide reference for the development of the industry and policy making, in order to benefit the society and economy with blockchain technology.
America’s Health Insurance Plans
Innovation Lab Name: The Innovation Lab
The Innovation Lab was created as a place where professionals from AHIP’s member companies could come together in an environment of mutual cooperation and creativity, free from pitches and competition. There these experts work on the next generation of disruptive insurance ideas for customers, companies, employers, as well as the bio/med tech and pharmaceutical industries.
Innovation Lab Name: LumenLab
MetLife’s LumenLab is a sprawling facility located in Singapore, where innovation experts from a variety of fields, many with startup experience, focus on developing new customer-driven products and solutions. Their goal is to “rewrite the role of insurance in people’s lives.”
Innovation Lab Name: IPG Media Lab
IPG’s Media Lab has a team of marketers, engineers, and creatives who work directly with clients, partner with other agencies, deliver custom content to publishers, and more.
New York Times
Innovation Lab Name: The New York Times Research & Development
The New York Times Research & Development group aims to create new products that will change how people interact with media. Projects include systems to visualize reader habits in real time, different interfaces for consuming news and other media, and crowdsourced programs looking to glean new insights from and about the Times’ considerable photo and ad archives.
Amazon Lab126 is an inventive research and development lab that designs and engineers high-profile consumer electronic devices. Lab126 began in 2004 as a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Since then they have worked to produce hardware and software for devices like Fire tablets, Kindle Voyage, Amazon Fire TV, and the Amazon Echo.
Innovation Lab Name: Digital Innovation Lab
The CVS innovation center is focused on creating new digital health solutions. Operating like a startup and adhering to concepts like an accelerated idea-to-market schedule and a fast-paced testing and implementation process, their projects include simple things like mobile phone pharmacy reminders and complex ones like apps that turn those phones into remote diagnostic tools.
Innovation Lab Name: DuPont Innovation Centers
DuPont has numerous innovation centers around the country and world. Their Johnston Innovation Center at the DuPont global agriculture headquarters in Iowa (their largest R&D facility), boasts nearly 3,000 professionals in disciplines like food, agriculture, and biotechnology. DuPont customers work with these in-house experts to develop new solutions to needs that DuPont might might be able to anticipate on their own.
Innovation Lab Name: Home Depot Innovation Lab (BlackLocus)
The Home Depot’s solution to startup-style innovation was quite ingenious: they acquired startup Black Locus and let them operate as an in-house innovation lab. Black Locus reports that without a sales org to support and competing objectives to focus on, they can bring their efforts to bear solving big problems for the Home Depot.
Innovation Lab Name: Kohl’s Digital Center
Kohl’s Digital Center opened in 2011. Their 200-person tech team is housed in a 50,000-square-foot facility and has developed things like the Kohl’s Pay app and other innovations to help customers pick up in-store deliveries faster, and more.
Innovation Lab Name: Lowe’s Innovation Lab
Lowe’s Innovation Lab’s is all about disruptive technologies, including shipping a 3D printer to the International Space Station to help astronauts print parts and tools on demand. They also developed the Holoroom, a VR headset to help shoppers visualize bathroom and kitchen improvements.
Innovation Lab Name: Lululemon Lab
Founded: 2009 (Vancouver), 2016 (NYC)
Lululemon’s solution to the constant need for new fashions was to open two in-house labs, one in Vancouver (where their corporate offices are) and one in NYC (a worldwide fashion hub). Designers work collaboratively in a setting that encourages forward thinking and creativity.
Innovation Lab Name: iR Labs
Sears’ iR Labs (short for “integrated retail”) center was created to find ways to deliver modern shoppers the multi-channel shopping experience they demand. From within their startup-style offices, Sears workers from all disciplines (design, development, product management, etc.) work together to improve online and mobile shopping, create new in-store promotions, and more.
Innovation Lab Name: Sephora Innovation Lab
Sephora’s innovation lab is in a converted warehouse near San Francisco’s Mission Bay district. The facility’s first use was to build and test in-store displays, but in 2015, its focus expanded to include digital, reflecting the increasingly online nature of any kind of shopping experience. Innovation team members work on solutions for web, mobile, and brick-and-mortar applications. The lab even includes a model Sephora store.
Innovation Lab Name: Staples Labs: Velocity, Innovation, Development
In 2012 the long-lived office superstore opened three labs in separate locations, each with its own mandate. “Velocity Lab” in Cambridge, MA and “Innovation Lab” in San Mateo, CA both handle mobile apps, digital platforms, and in-store technologies. The “Development Lab” in Seattle works on e-commerce platforms and data engineering.
Innovation Lab Name: Target Technology Innovation Center
In 2012, Target opened their San Francisco lab staffed with commerce technologists, data scientists, and product managers to work on projects like augmented reality, wearable computing, and gamification.
Innovation Lab Name: Tesco Labs
Tesco’s in-house tech innovation team dreams up, develops, and tests an array of solutions for things like online search and also built an Android app to help customers take control of their health and choices. One notable “startup” trait: they even hold hackathons.
Walmart’s innovation lab is designed to help them stay competitive in the increasingly online and mobile world. One notable accomplishment was a large-scale search engine overhaul for their online site that drove a 20% increase in sales. Workers are even organized into “mini-startups,” each with their own projects.
Innovation Lab Name: Autodesk Labs
Autodesk, makers of AutoCAD, Revit, and a wide array of design and engineering software, has their own innovation lab, called simply “Autodesk Labs.” This innovation center focuses on “technology previews,” public releases of new technologies in development which have set start and end dates and are focused on garnering user feedback. This feedback is used to improve and refine the technology, though Autodesk is very open to admitting that sometimes what they learn is that they should let what they’re working on go and move on to a new idea.
Innovation Lab Name: Avaya Labs Research
Avaya Labs Research center focuses on WebRTC, mobility, cloud, and video solutions. Innovations include an ecommerce delivery mechanism for embedding open, mobile digital communication.
The mission of the Silicon Valley AI Lab is to develop AI technologies that we believe will have a significant impact on the lives of at least 100 million people. Our research is built on the powerful combination of deep learning, large datasets and high performance computing. In fact, SVAIL has both deep learning and systems research teams that work hand in hand to explore the latest in deep learning algorithms as well as find innovative ways to accelerate AI research with new hardware and software technologies.
Building 8 at Facebook is focused on building new hardware products to advance our mission of connecting the world. We bring together world-class experts to develop seemingly impossible products that define new categories. We drive innovation in augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, connectivity and other important breakthrough areas. Our teams move fast, with aggressive and fixed timelines. We extensively create and leverage partnerships with universities, small and large businesses, and set clear objectives for shipping products at scale.
Innovation Lab Name: The Garage
While X may be more well known, there’s a lot of work and play happening at The Garage. Originally opened in 2008 by a group of Googlers who wanted someplace a bit more free-form to do their “20% work.” (“20% work” itself is a form of constant innovation: it’s the 20% of the workweek during which Google employees get to work on projects not directly connected to their core tasks.) It’s open to all Googlers and boasts 3D printers, tons of tools, a CNC machine, and plenty of collaborative workspace to encourage out-of-the-box thinking.
Google’s X research center is where some of their biggest projects happen. These teams work on research that’s not directly tied to a product and encompasses challenging fields like speech processing, machine intelligence, quantum AI, and more.
HP Labs is an award-winning research facility focusing on technologies like natural language detection, audio/video analytics, immersive experiences, 3D printing, and more.
The Mobile Innovation Lab brings together cloud and mobile experts to try to develop new technologies and applications for the IBM Cloud, their clients, and more.
Microsoft has numerous labs, each with its own flavor, aimed at applying research independent of product development cycles. Projects include Skype translation, talk-to-text transcription, real-time hand tracking for single-depth cameras, and more.
Innovation Lab Name: Oracle Labs
Originally founded as Sun Microsystems Laboratories, it was rebranded Oracle Labs after their acquisition in 2010. Their research philosophies are exploratory research, directed research, consulting, and product incubation. Past projects that have grown out of Oracle Labs research include chip multithreading and the Java programming language.
Innovation Lab Name: TCS Innovation Labs
TCS’s world-spanning network of Technology, Domain, and Academic Alliance Labs let IT experts of all stripes create new systems. Products from these labs include HeartSense and AkTrac (“wellness apps for activity detection and physiological sensing using mobile phones and wearables”), a mobile phone digital stethoscope, and RehabBox, a “Kinect-based telerehab system for post stroke patients.”
The PARC’s professed philosophy is “open innovation.” Founded in 1970, PARC has worked on world-changing innovations like Ethernet, laser printing, and GUIs.
Ford’s innovation center boasts open spaces to encourage collaboration and works on projects ranging from autonomous car research with the likes of MIT, Stanford, and the University of Michigan, to Big Data and analytics initiatives.
Innovation Lab Name: Panasonic Automotive Innovation Center
The Panasonic Automotive Innovation Center, located inside their Centergy One building, is built for collaboration between software, electrical, systems, and mechanical experts working on the next generation of human-machine interfaces for cars.
The Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab (VAIL) brings together interdisciplinary teams to work on industry-changing projects. Located on the Stanford University campus, they partner with the school on projects like drive-by-wire and driver assistance systems, the Stanford Solar Car Project, and more.
Uber ATG is the R&D hub of Uber’s engineering team dedicated to self-driving technologies, mapping, and vehicle safety. This team is responsible for developing long-term technologies that advance Uber’s mission of bringing safe, reliable transportation to everyone, everywhere. We are ambitious, engaged and excited about transforming the way the world moves. Our research will make the process of moving real assets and real people safer and more efficient now, and in the decades to come.