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Revolutionizing keynotes on innovation and startups

Dan Toma

travels from Germany

Innovation thought leader, academic and award-winning author educating on enterprise innovation strategy

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About Dan

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Innovation speaker Dan Toma is the award winning author of "The Corporate Startup". Dan has the experience, insights and engaging speaking style to teach you life-changing lessons on innovation and startups.

Have you ever wondered why innovative products are mainly launched by startups?

Dan has! Which is why he focuses his startup expertise on enterprise innovation strategy.

In particular, speaker Dan Toma specializes in the changes blue-chip organizations need to make to allow for NEW ventures to be built in a CORPORATE setting. In this capacity he has worked with companies like Deutsche Telekom, Bosch, Jaguar Land Rover, Bayer, John Deere and Allianz.

On top of his interest in corporate innovation strategy, Dan is also an advocate of the ecosystem approach to innovation. He has worked with various government bodies, in Asia and Europe, helping to develop national innovation ecosystems and implement national innovation strategies.

The work experience speaker Dan Toma gathered from his career in the public and private sector provides him with a deep understanding of innovation. He delivers these insights as keynote talks and experiential courses. He has delivered these courses at universities including the Royal Academy of Engineering and the University of Applied Science Rhein-Main.

Speaker Dan Toma Educational Background
Dan holds a dual degree MBA from Bradford University (UK) and TiasNimbas Business School (The Netherlands) while being a certified lean startup acceleration specialist by Columbia University (USA) though the Lean Launchpad program.

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    Speaker Dan Toma Keynote Topics

    • Corporate Innovation Beyond Post-It Notes

    Invoking the ‘Gods of innovation’ by ‘sacrificing’ post-it notes is becoming a common practice in corporations eager to innovate. But in most cases this ‘tactic’ never yields any results beyond frustrations and disappointment. Creating a working innovation ecosystem requires more than just a big heart and a bunch of post-it notes. The 5 tested principles put forward in The Corporate Startup are going to help leaders move their company’s innovation efforts beyond post-it notes.

    • Innovation accounting: How not to kill your babies

    Measuring innovation is proving to be one of the biggest challenges facing executives these days. In the absence of an alternative KPI system for measuring innovation executives revert to using the ‘tired and tested’ financial indicators. The only problem is that whatever a mature business can report on is impossible for nascent business to match; this will ultimately result in new ideas being discontinued. Innovation accounting is being pragmatic about measuring innovation without killing it.

    • Thinking like an astronaut

    Being an entrepreneur or building a product withing a larger company is not that different than being an astronaut. Yes you read it right! Although the risks are different, by the nature of the work they do both groups deal with uncertainty and the unexplored. Learning from astronauts how to deal with the unexpected can help entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs take better decisions.

    • Grasshoppers and the cash cow: Convincing dinosaurs to start dancing

    Today, more than ever, startup pressure is mounting on corporate portfolios. Independent of industry for almost any corporate product/service offering the clients have an alternative offered by a startup. Having been in business for decades optimizing an existing solution might not keep the company in business in the years to come. Only by fully commuting to innovation corporation can hope to stay relevant in ever changing environments where the only certainty is uncertainty.



Interview with Dan Toma

What got you interested in innovation?

I guess I was always curious. And curiosity tends to go hand in hand with the new. I started my professional life in entrepreneurship and founded a couple of companies. Only later I learned that what I was doing is called innovation. One thing lead to the next and I got interested in innovation done at scale – in multinational corporations or at county/regional levels.

Why The Corporate Startup book?

I started thinking about writing a book on corporate innovation back in 2013 when I was working as innovation manager for one of Europe’s largest telecommunication companies. My trigger was the fact that some of the startup methodologies I was trying to apply in this corporate context were failing – and I knew from my previous entrepreneurial experience that they work in ‘startup land’.

The ‘why’ behind this was my initial trigger. Also following some research and talking with people at various events across the world I realized that this was a recurrent theme all over the globe, independent of the corporations’ business line. And also there was no ‘handbook’ out there on how to manage innovation in this complex corporate context.

How do you think things will change in the world of entrepreneurship and innovation in the coming years?

We are living in very interesting times. In terms of startup entrepreneurship I think we are seeing the beginning of the data democratization era and this has the potential of disrupting many ‘traditional’ industries. Also we are seeing a massive shift in consumer preference – more and more people are environmentally aware and more interested in accessibility over ownership.

This latter consumption trend has been nicely capitalized on by various startups working on ‘anything as a service’ business models. Corporations are a bit slow to the game but none the less they are starting to take notice of these changes and have started to invest in this direction.

Specifically for corporate innovation I see a trend towards partnerships and collaborations. And not only with other corporations, but with startups too. Also it will be really interesting to see how many ‘traditional’ companies will be able to make the change from what they are today and how they do business today, to the world of tomorrow where the only constant will be continuous change.

Who or what inspires you most?

It is hard to give a concrete answer to this question. In general passionate and curious people. I love watching TED talks – it’s such an amazing way to learn about what’s happening in the world and above all how passionate people are having an impact in their area of expertise.

What’s your advice for large organizations to become excellent innovators?

Enabling innovation is not a Big-Bang type of event – it needs to happen continuously, with perseverance and discipline. Modern corporations need to understand that in today’s world, innovation is everyone’s job and that innovation needs to transcend product innovation and be implemented in other parts of the organization too (e.g. HR innovation or process innovation).

Lastly, innovation is a team sport and it can only happen when all the players in the company’s internal ecosystem strive for the same goal. If a large company is just investing in an innovation lab and hope they will be successful, they are in for an unpleasant surprise.

What is the most unique experience you have had as a result of your job?

I enjoyed every project I was on. But one in particular has a special place in my heart. In 2015 and 2016 I was working in economic aid in South East Asia, specifically in Vietnam. The project was really interesting as it had a strong social component to it. I was part of a team that was helping to develop the national innovation ecosystem of the south Asian country and then take the lessons learned and ‘export’ them to neighbouring countries in the region, ie Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos.

In this capacity I had the pleasure to interface with people from a variety of backgrounds. Together we set up training programs and together with local partners we created the regions largest acceleration program for startups.

What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?

My personal gain coming from interacting with the audiences start from the feedback I receive on the thought leadership ideas I have. Also very import for me is to learn more about the different experiences members of the audience have when applying innovation in their respective contexts. I enjoying seeing how innovation concepts are being tailored and applied in various industries as I’m a firm believer in dogma free world.

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Keynote topics with Dan Toma