GETKICKBOX | Building an Open Innovation Ecosystem

When the Kickbox program was established at Swisscom 5 years ago, my task was not to build and run an intrapreneurship program. I was responsible for identifying start-ups that could collaborate with Swisscom. The agile start-up culture collided strongly with the mentality of a large corporation. A new approach was needed to provide opportunities for new ideas across the company and to promote a truly digital and agile mindset at Swisscom. Using the kickbox method, the necessary culture of innovation could be nurtured.


Kickbox puts intrapreneurs (kickboxers) in the driver’s seat: They have to validate an idea with simple and fun procedures. Employees from across the company from all hierarchies approached us to evaluate their ideas and test their concepts. Kickbox lifted hierarchical walls and created space to unite and exchange ideas. It was a great catalyst for a more adventurous and agile culture – including block chain, drones & robotics – we see today at Swisscom. We currently apply this experience to more than 15 different companies to encourage and promote their bottom-up innovation.

The kickbox method works for every industry. From financial services, construction, pharma, tourism, fashion and more. We could not help but wonder where the next steps would take us. This approach should not be limited to internal use. Just how exhilarating would it be to open it up, connect the dots and lay the foundation for an entire ecosystem? Such a structure would enable and encourage cross-company collaboration and open innovation in a radically different way. Companies could take advantage of all the efficiency gains and inspiration that GETKICKBOX promotes internally and at the same time be part of an active and open community where experiences are shared and projects are taken to the next level together.

Sounds like a dream? No, this is exactly the direction in which the GETKICKBOX community is developing, and it is the vision we chose when digitalswitzerland challenged us to formulate an ambitious bet for the next three years.

From intrapreneurship to an Open Innovation Ecosystem

Today GETKICKBOX is being used by Swisscom, Siemens, Raiffeisen, Roche, Switzerland Tourism and other leading companies to increase their bottom-up innovation capacity. As soon as the platform is set up and the kickbox method is established company-wide, a GETKICKBOX customer takes an active role in their peer community. For instance: During the validation phase, more than 100 innovation leaders were involved in the co-design of the latest version of KICKBOOK, the handbook for innovators. Customers exchange Kickbox projects with other organizations from various industries, and we have brought domain experts and freelancers on board as service providers for the GETKICKBOX marketplace and selected universities.

To get closer to our vision of a true open innovation ecosystem, we continue to listen to the community and constantly conduct experiments to learn and iterate the concept. The latest step in this direction is a format designed to inspire collaboration for sustainability and positive impact. It’s a topic that is attracting a lot of interest from intrapreneurs and we have already received encouraging feedback on our first pilot: the GreenBox!

Sustainability aspect of an idea

In recent years, we have noticed a steady increase in projects related to sustainability. We noticed that these projects are complex, involve multiple stakeholders, need to be aligned with the company’s sustainability agenda and have a stronger focus on impact rather than pure profit. They also offer excellent opportunities for cross-company collaboration.

Following discussions with various companies, Swisscom decided to take the lead and test a new service for intrapreneurs: GreenBox workshops. Together with the Impact Hub Switzerland, Swisscom is organising five workshops in 2020 to help intrapreneurs examine the sustainability aspect of their idea. These workshops are explicitly open to intrapreneurs from other organisations, and participants will have the opportunity to exchange ideas, learn from each other and form teams.

To date, intrapreneurs from banks, insurance companies, NGOs, automotive industry and others have participated in our workshops. The last GreenBox workshop on 17 April was completely digital. The experience for the participants in this new remote setup was as good as a physical workshop – and in many ways even better!

If you are an intrapreneur who wants to explore the sustainability aspect to your idea, we invite you to our next workshop! It will take place on Friday, 28 August 2020 (13.00-17.00). To register, send an e-mail to with the subject “Registration for the GreenBox Workshop on 28 August 2020”.

True to the Kickbox spirit we are always trying out new things, iterating and improving them constantly. Creating space for impactful ideas to collaborate is therefore only our latest step towards creating a thriving open innovation ecosystem. These are exciting times, and we look forward to getting in touch with you to help steer them – perhaps during the next GreenBox workshop?

Author: David Hengartner

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