Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook have ascended in lockstep with digital marketplaces like Airbnb and Uber. These twin turbines of digital commerce have disrupted the old order of how people interact to provide services and buy, sell, share, trade, and build things. More and more, the junction between markets and networks is where the most vital transactions occur.
To capture this emerging phenomenon, the term, “Market Network” was coined in 2015 by James Currier in his Tech Crunch article, From Social Networks to Market Networks, where he wrote the following:
Over time, nearly all independent professionals and their clients will conduct business through the market network of their industry. We’re just seeing the beginning of it now.”
Xinova in 2018 metamorphized into the world’s first and only innovation market network. We’d been unintentionally building towards this point for years, assembling a collective of over 12,000 elite innovators alongside a growing market of savvy co-development partners—and connecting them all with a purpose-built digital platform. This marks a fundamental shift in the future practice of innovation, de-risking and unblocking it while opening a new world of opportunities for a new category of skilled innovators eager to participate in this uniquely dynamic and collaborative model.
The platform-enabled innovation market network evolves the original market networks’ focus beyond serving single industries to solving problems for–well, anyone who needs to innovate. Which is everyone, of course. And with innovation lagging globally in the face of mounting risks and obstacles, the market network represents an agile solution to the fundamental challenges confronting anyone trying to drive growth while staying abreast or getting ahead of the competition in the digital age.
Networks are where people come together. Markets are where transactions happen between multiple buyers and sellers. Market networks leverage a platform that braids together the expertise of a curated network like LinkedIn with the transactional elements of a marketplace, like eBay. AngelList, launched in 2010, perhaps pioneered the market network when they began connecting investors and job candidates with startups through a SaaS workflow. Market networks began springing up sporadically thereafter in various industries, including events planning (HoneyBook and eventerprise), legal services (Legal.io), medical services (doximity) and residential construction (Joist). In each case, a group of industry experts could apply for project opportunities via SaaS workflow.
A market network includes:
One of the key drivers of the market network revolution is its suitability for complex, long-term projects demanding highly skilled expertise. Innovation is complex by definition; its success demands skill and expertise. In contrast, consider one-off crowd-sourced services like Uber: going somewhere is a simple objective; driving someone there involves a common skill, and grading that ride’s quality is straightforward to objectively measure. Same goes for changing a lightbulb or renting a room or answering a question online. Such crowd-sourced services are intrinsically limited in value by low expertise levels and one-off fee-based services.
Taking a long-term view results in a complementary benefit: risk-sharing and “upside,” where contributors of all types are able to participate in the ultimate market success (and failure) of a project vs simply being a cog in the machine. The gig economy ecosystem has largely missed this opportunity to bring knowledge workers along.
The needle moves into market network territory for complex, long-term projects. The value of expertise within a curated network skyrockets when, for example, you need to staff and fund a startup that increases crop yields in deteriorating environments, or engineer new modular building methods, or make long-lasting batteries or source AI expertise for a new ERP system. Innovation challenges often stagnate because old models of innovation are fundamentally flawed—in addition to being resource-constrained, they rely on siloed expertise within a single R&D department or discipline. More and more, we at Xinova have found that transformative solutions to even the most stale problems come from non-industry experts in unexpected places. Out of the box, indeed.
Innovation demands prolific innovators, who are currently in short supply—no university degree in invention or innovation currently exists. But the innovator network has been a beacon for creative scientists, designers, developers and engineers eager to work together and develop their own methodologies to solve problems across disciplines.
Xinova CEO, Edward Jung achieved an insight into innovation over his career as one of history’s most accomplished inventors and successful practitioners of innovation. Innovation, he realized, is global. Furthermore, innovation is supported by four pillars:
Xinova’s global market network accelerates innovation by connecting the right problems with the right solutions from our worldwide network of expertise. We unlock and multiply value by connecting a global market of talent, technology, capital and demand. The Xinova innovation platform–with its transparent process and dynamic capacity to intelligently match people and opportunities–is pivotal to this alignment.
It has also opened up an entirely new investment stream. For years, investors have wished to invest in projects, not just companies. For instance, Edward recalls wishing to invest in Sony’s PlayStation, but not Sony as a whole, but found no such avenue. Our innovation market network makes investing in individual technology and projects possible while enabling off-balance sheet financing for company innovation projects.
Mutual success assures total commitment. World-class innovators are drawn to a project when they can share in the fruits of their labors. Investors, meanwhile, may be more dynamic in their approach to funding a venture, using collaborations, co-investments or non-traditional financial instruments to push forward a project. This arrangement describes a true co-innovation model, fostering long-term relationships along the winding innovation journey. The market network makes such collaborations possible by connecting demand with the right global resources.
Such an end-to-end innovation ecosystem mitigates the zero-sum concept of innovation and disruption. Being a part of the innovation market network gives companies advanced insight into emerging forces disrupting their industries. That insight allows for more intelligent decisions–collaborations or targeted acquisitions with smaller companies, who in turn gain more access to opportunities.
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