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Why Is Corporate Entrepreneurship Important?

Corporate entrepreneurship is key to the fight against climate change, says Bocconi University professor Markus Venzin

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Tue Oct 26 2021

BusinessBecause
The idea of what a large corporation is, and should be, is changing. To remain competitive, even established organizations need to become more entrepreneurial and grow innovative new businesses.

What’s known as corporate entrepreneurship brings together the financial resources and structure of a large corporation with the entrepreneurial energy of startups. 


What is corporate entrepreneurship?

Corporate Entrepreneurship, or Intrapreneurship, is the creation of new businesses, products, or services from inside an organization to generate new revenue growth through entrepreneurial action.

Corporate Entrepreneurship works in two ways. An established corporation either develops an idea internally, builds the startup, casts it off externally, and then brings the startup back into the wider organization at a later stage. 

Or the company identifies an early-stage startup to collaborate with or acquire, and then assimilates the business into the wider organization. 


Why is corporate entrepreneurship important?

In a rapidly changing business environment, innovating and responding to change via corporate entrepreneurship is key. Corporate entrepreneurship can also lead to more productivity and boost morale among a workforce who are given the space and opportunity to tackle new challenges and implement new ideas.

Yet there are even greater benefits to corporate entrepreneurship, according to Markus Venzin, professor of global strategy and dean of innovation at Bocconi University

Corporate entrepreneurship is important, Markus says, because it can help form the bedrock for action needed to combat the climate crisis. 

“If we want to create a more sustainable world, we need to concentrate on corporations becoming more sustainable,” he says. 

Whether that’s established banks working with or launching their own fintech startups; traditional farmers incorporating the latest innovations in artificial intelligence or biotech to make their operations more sustainable; or energy giants working with dynamic, agile clean energy startups to reimagine the energy sector, the potential of corporate entrepreneurship is huge.

And Markus believes that companies no longer have a choice of whether to adopt it or not.

“It needs to be possible,” he asserts. “You need to go beyond your core product, you need to take up broader challenges, start working with startups, and that requires much more than just doing your job as manager.

“It requires taking risks, entrepreneurial risks as individuals, and that's going to be a key aspect of making the world more sustainable.”


Implementing corporate entrepreneurship

To successfully implement corporate entrepreneurship, firms must have the right culture in place to encourage and enable innovation.

Managers must select employees with entrepreneurial drive and be open to creating a culture that supports the inception and implementation of innovative ideas. Companies must also invest in the capabilities needed to segment the market, forecast trends, and understand customer needs.

Internally, companies also need to reduce what Markus refers to as ‘firm-related uncertainty’. In other words, they should work to clarify how good ideas are supported by the firm. 

Markus explains that this is done by reducing:

→Communicative uncertainty: Managers need to make sure their ideas are recognized as opportunities. They need to package their ideas and convince others. 

→Behavioral uncertainty: Resources need to be allocated to good ideas. Behavioral uncertainty arises when the actions of managers involved in that process do not fully reveal their true intent.

→Value uncertainty: How are the benefits of entrepreneurial ideas shared? Issue of value appropriation, international commercialization, transfer pricing, and the application of incentive schemes are important on the individual and unit-level. Entrepreneurs need to know what rewards they can expect if they engage in innovation processes.


Corporate entrepreneurship examples

Markus is also president and senior partner of venture builder, Corporate Hanger, an organization created by Italian electrical cable company Prysmian Group to identify and develop innovative ideas from inside or outside of the company.

Most of the startups are then managed by Corporate Hanger for up to five years before they are introduced into clients’ operations. Examples include Kablee, an e-commerce platform for cables, and Cultifutura, a vertical farming solutions startup. 

Italian energy company, Enel, is another firm that actively practices corporate entrepreneurship. The Enel Innovation World Cup is an internal competition launched by the company’s Innovation & Sustainability department, which promotes risk acceptance and gives global Enel staff the opportunity to develop businesses related to the energy sector. 

Employees get to manage the entire productive process alone or with a team. They develop ideas, test them, and then source client feedback so the product arrives to market in line with customers’ expectations.  

Students on Markus’s corporate entrepreneurship course at Bocconi University learn through his personal experiences, as well as his network in the form of guest speakers. 

The course also builds up students’ understanding of how to successfully incorporate a culture of corporate entrepreneurship into a company, and the importance of large organizations using their resources to incubate and grow the best ideas. 

“Corporate entrepreneurship has a lot of potential to make the world more sustainable because when you have a startup that makes things more sustainable, through collaboration with a larger company the startup can grow much quicker, and can penetrate many countries at the same time,” Markus says.

Whether it’s by using the skills you can acquire at Bocconi University to build a startup internally at a company, or to lead the sourcing and acquisition of innovative early-stage ventures to work with, more talent is needed to meet the demands for corporate entrepreneurship. And, as Markus points out, companies don’t have a choice.


BB Insights explores the latest research and trends from the business school classroom, drawing on the expertise of world-leading professors to inspire and inform current and future leaders 

Student Reviews

Bocconi University

Edoardo

Verified

25/01/2022

Blended

Everything was great ( apart from the covid part)

I really enjoyed this experience because I built a really strong relationship with other students and professors. This fact has permitted me to grow as a person and also to improve my academic background by confronting myself with other people. I would encourage Bocconi to create a new method of exams for online courses (I have experienced it during the covid-19 period) because they could not manage to control and to avoid shameless situations such as software breakdowns just before the exams.

Student

Verified

8/11/2021

On Campus

Amazing course

The workload is really heavy, but that’s the only way to prepare students for the job market. Bocconi offers also many services to help students kick off their careers. Overall, Bocconi University Masters Degree is the best option for ambitious students and the best choice among Italian and maybe European universities.

Student

Verified

24/07/2020

A great experience

A fundamental experience to understand what I want to do in life. In the three years I attended Bocconi University, I laid the foundations for my business education. I will always be grateful to it. I absolutely recommend it.

Alessandra

Verified

26/06/2020

Bocconi: Italian Quality

The great thing about this University is that it is one of the few Italian universities offering such international programs. My course is unique and doesn't exist anywhere else, so if you like arts and economics, Bocconi is the best place. The course provides both subjects concerning arts/philosophy, and ones more related to economics. Personally, I have decided to follow a different path because I am not so interested in working in this specific field, but this course is totally worth it if you want to work in a creative industry. Indeed, it gives people with a passion for luxury, arts and so on with a complete knowledge concerning management. The best part has been the great support offered by the University in every aspect, going from on-campus facilities to monthly job fairs to better understand the kind of career we want to pursue. This is often taken for granted in Italian universities.

Student

Verified

25/05/2020

Professional and amazing

Very well organized university. I have studied Financial management and I graduated with 108/110. The teachers are really good and professional. The university has all the facilities and the services are professional. I really enjoyed studying in a professional and international environment. Bocconi has played an important role in finding my actual job!

Student

Verified

28/10/2019

Great university which gives wonderful placement opportunities.

I really like Bocconi. What I appreciated the most was the high level of teaching and the opportunities given in terms of placement and networking connections. I strongly recommend this university if you want to pursue a great working career.

Student

Verified

27/10/2019

Beautiful environment

Beautiful community of students with lots of opportunities for in-campus activities. The university offers 8 residences near the campus, perfect for freshmen at the first year in Milan. Professors are very prepared and always ready to help students

Student

Verified

24/03/2018

An outstanding university

The great efficiency and organization, the high quality of teaching, and the possibility to take part in many interesting and useful experiences make Bocconi University stand out. It distinguishes itself from the Italian academic background. Many people say Bocconi is too stressful, but to me, it’s worth it.

Student

Verified

20/03/2018

Excellent

Bocconi is outstanding university. Among the best in Italy. The international franework helps students to get involved in projects/associations that enrich the campus. I study law and i’ m happy about my 4 years and experiences that i had the opportunity to

Edoardo

Verified

25/01/2022

Blended

Everything was great ( apart from the covid part)

I really enjoyed this experience because I built a really strong relationship with other students and professors. This fact has permitted me to grow as a person and also to improve my academic background by confronting myself with other people. I would encourage Bocconi to create a new method of exams for online courses (I have experienced it during the covid-19 period) because they could not manage to control and to avoid shameless situations such as software breakdowns just before the exams.

Student

Verified

8/11/2021

On Campus

Amazing course

The workload is really heavy, but that’s the only way to prepare students for the job market. Bocconi offers also many services to help students kick off their careers. Overall, Bocconi University Masters Degree is the best option for ambitious students and the best choice among Italian and maybe European universities.

Student

Verified

24/07/2020

A great experience

A fundamental experience to understand what I want to do in life. In the three years I attended Bocconi University, I laid the foundations for my business education. I will always be grateful to it. I absolutely recommend it.

Alessandra

Verified

26/06/2020

Bocconi: Italian Quality

The great thing about this University is that it is one of the few Italian universities offering such international programs. My course is unique and doesn't exist anywhere else, so if you like arts and economics, Bocconi is the best place. The course provides both subjects concerning arts/philosophy, and ones more related to economics. Personally, I have decided to follow a different path because I am not so interested in working in this specific field, but this course is totally worth it if you want to work in a creative industry. Indeed, it gives people with a passion for luxury, arts and so on with a complete knowledge concerning management. The best part has been the great support offered by the University in every aspect, going from on-campus facilities to monthly job fairs to better understand the kind of career we want to pursue. This is often taken for granted in Italian universities.

Student

Verified

25/05/2020

Professional and amazing

Very well organized university. I have studied Financial management and I graduated with 108/110. The teachers are really good and professional. The university has all the facilities and the services are professional. I really enjoyed studying in a professional and international environment. Bocconi has played an important role in finding my actual job!

Student

Verified

28/10/2019

Great university which gives wonderful placement opportunities.

I really like Bocconi. What I appreciated the most was the high level of teaching and the opportunities given in terms of placement and networking connections. I strongly recommend this university if you want to pursue a great working career.

Student

Verified

27/10/2019

Beautiful environment

Beautiful community of students with lots of opportunities for in-campus activities. The university offers 8 residences near the campus, perfect for freshmen at the first year in Milan. Professors are very prepared and always ready to help students

Student

Verified

24/03/2018

An outstanding university

The great efficiency and organization, the high quality of teaching, and the possibility to take part in many interesting and useful experiences make Bocconi University stand out. It distinguishes itself from the Italian academic background. Many people say Bocconi is too stressful, but to me, it’s worth it.

Student

Verified

20/03/2018

Excellent

Bocconi is outstanding university. Among the best in Italy. The international franework helps students to get involved in projects/associations that enrich the campus. I study law and i’ m happy about my 4 years and experiences that i had the opportunity to

Yangxin

Verified

27/03/2024

On Campus

Excellent university full of opportunities

I had almost zero experience in business before coming to Bocconi. However, this did not hinder my career prospects here. I was fortunate to receive valuable opportunities such as in-company training and internships. Through these experiences, I gained invaluable practical insights into various business scenarios, becoming more acquainted with the real business world. Before arriving here, I had not learned Italian, which initially made me concerned about possible cultural or language barriers. Bocconi offers Italian language courses that proved indispensable in helping me adapt to Milan during my days here. Additionally, my Italian classmates have been incredibly welcoming, assisting me with cultural adjustments and willingly serving as language partners to help with my Italian language learning journey. My two-year life here has become both manageable and enjoyable. In conclusion, I would recommend this university to those people who are eager to embrace a future brimming with opportunities.

Alex

Verified

28/03/2024

On Campus

So many opportunities

Bocconi has been an amazing journey for me, filled with growth and opportunities, both on a professional and personal level. The professors teaching the International Management Master's are of really high quality and they were able to transfer some much "knowledge that matters", thanks also to the many teamworking experiences during the course. Bocconi also allowed me to experience a double degree program with ESADE, which taught me a lot both in terms of professional development, as well as allowing me to expand my network of international students even further. Overall, Bocconi unleashed plenty of opportunities I could not foresee before joining the university and that I'm really grateful for and excited to dive into.

Marina

Verified

30/03/2024

On Campus

Invest in your knowledge

Bocconi offers plenty of opportunities to grow as a person and as a professional. I was able to both broaden my interests and deepen existent knowledge during my Master's degree in Finance. It's very challenging, but the result is totally worth it. Bocconi has a very impressive reputation across the world, which allowed me to have an internship at my dream company.

Tara

Verified

1/04/2024

On Campus

A University Ripe with Opportunity

As a first year Masters in International Management student, the global perspective, abundant learning opportunities and networking opportunities were the main aspects that drew me towards pursing my studies at Bocconi. And Bocconi has delivered in full on these promises. In my classes I have really valued the more application based approach which centres around collaboration with peers from around the world. There are also so many opportunities for learning outside the classroom through supplementary activities, societies, guest lectures and other events hosted by the university! The networking opportunities and career services are world class. The university regularly hosts events like Bocconi

Martina

Verified

1/04/2024

On Campus

Environment and experiences

Entering Bocconi, I was shy and uncertain. I was surprised to discover a supportive community that not only challenged me academically but also encouraged me to come out of my shell. I found myself surrounded by lifelong friends who turned out to be an invaluable support for me. Despite my initial indecision, my chosen course (Economics and Management for Arts and Culture) proved to be the perfect fit, seamlessly blending rigorous economic principles with insights into the cultural landscape. I found myself immersed in a dynamic environment that fostered healthy competition, pushing me to excel while simultaneously supporting my personal growth. Reflecting on my period at Bocconi, I can confidently say it was the best time of my life. Through unforgettable experiences in students associations, internships and study-abroad periods, Bocconi accompanied me from adolescence into adulthood. It provided me with the confidence and skills necessary to navigate the complexities of the real world, offering me an environment where I could flourish both academically and personally.

Erik

Verified

2/04/2024

On Campus

Great programme in MSc Finance

I have done the MSc in Finance, and I am extremely happy with it. The quality of the education is really good, and has more than prepared me for my job in Asset Management after my studies. There are also a lot of group projects and labs in the classes which lets you try things in practice. In addition to this, there are a lot of good student associations for finance which allows you to connect with a lot of really brilliant people.

Student

Verified

2/04/2024

On Campus

My Experience at Bocconi University

Bocconi University offers a great deal of programs. The small classes make it easy for students to interact with professors, all very experienced in their field, and not only care for the students' life inside the classroom but also for their lives outside, providing many amazing extracurricular activities, from sports, and associations to theater and singing. Overall, a great experience!

Student

Verified

4/04/2024

On Campus

Excellent university providing a great preparation

I have chosen Bocconi University for both my bachelor's and master's degree and I am extremely satisfied with my experience and the preparation the institution has given me, both academically and to be equipped to enter the job market. The programs are very international, which has allowed me to make friends from all over the world, and the university offers a wide range of interesting courses, both in Italian and in English, which often combine a theoretical strong preparation together with practical applied projects. Bocconi also has a great and efficient career service that organizes useful events to get ready for the job market, meet employers and network with companies. I have also appreciated the presence of over a hundred student associations, which has allowed me to pursue some interests of mine while meeting students from several different courses and gainining more practical experience through additional projects.

Anna

Verified

8/06/2024

On Campus

Friends for life!

As I come to the end of my time here at Bocconi university, I have come to understand how lucky I was to end up at this school. I was lucky because I had the freedom to explore my academic possibilities, and discover how great I can be. I'll forever hold the friends I've made dear to my heart.