CKGSB Knowledge - China Business and Economy

Innovation from the Inside Out

We are engaging the mindset of our innovators so that they can talk about their ideas in a way that makes sense to business leaders

How do big multinational companies innovate? According to Kapil Kane, Director of Innovation at Intel China, there are three ways: partnership, acquisition and in-house development. The problem with the last of these is that in-house R&D laboratories may be good at invention but not at innovation—that is, finding new uses for, or making improvements to, existing products and processes. Kane aims to fix this with his Ideas2Reality (I2R) program at Intel China.

I2R is a startup program nested inside Intel’s China operation. It encourages employees to submit ideas, which are vetted, incubated and accelerated using the same principles used by leading Silicon Valley accelerators, such as Y Combinator, with the aim of producing viable business applications. By looking inside the company, Intel is leveraging the talent and knowledge of its engineering staff by training them to think like entrepreneurs—and by this standard, it is as much focused on people as it is on technology.

Kane holds a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. Early in his career, he played an important role in developing Apple’s first touchscreen products, and later moved to China to oversee aspects of the manufacturing of MacBook computers. He has been living and working in China for 10 years, mostly in Shanghai.

Q: Before heading the innovation program at Intel China, you were at Apple. What did you work on there?

A: After working at my first job out

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