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Innovation labs and why they matter

Posted by Paula Fifield on 1st September 2021

Tech innovation is critical for mature brands to stay ahead of disruption, with many companies relying on in-house innovation labs to keep the competition at bay.

New kids on the block

Competition from the growing number of British and global start-ups is rife. You need only look at established sectors like banking, food and automotive to see that even stalwarts of industry can be seriously challenged or overturned by bright new talent and technologists.

Additionally, world events like Covid-19 and growing consumer awareness on topics such as sustainability and climate change are a catalyst for businesses to generate greater efficiencies, cost savings and enhanced results.

Tech success stories

Wildfire represents a wide range of companies whose primary business is developing innovative technology to sell or to be made available for subscription. However, we also work with companies that may not be categorised as a ‘tech-first’ company, but whose commercial success depends on their ability to create or maintain innovative technology for their own use, enhancing their offering to remain competitive.

These companies must compete even harder for tech talent. It’s vital that their tech success stories are heard by the developer and tech communities so that they can attract and retain top tech talent.

Non-tech tech champions

Here are three companies that I wouldn’t consider to be ‘tech-first’, who are doing a phenomenal job of ensuring their tech innovation stories are being heard:


Working with ‘alchemists, nutritionists, futurists, technologists and culinary artists’ as well as all kinds of cultural influencers, PepsiCo’s New York City Design and Innovation Centre has created a huge resource for collaboration.

The brand’s ‘Pepsi Spire’ drink dispenser range has evolved rapidly over recent years, expanding the brand’s appeal and reaching a global audience. Mauro Porcini, PepsiCo’s chief design officer, has a profile to rival any A-list celebrity.


Ikea’s SPACE10 research and design lab is furthering its mission to “create a better everyday life for people and the planet”. It invites art, design, and technology professionals to come together to work on projects that result in prototypes, exhibitions, and events.

This community has worked to ensure that devices used in the home are more secure and trustworthy, as well as ‘exploring urban futures’ and looking at the make-up of the ideal city.


Palo Alto is the home of ‘Ford Greenfield Labs’ and a 182,000 square-foot innovation centre that employs more than 300 staff. The researchers, scientists, engineers, and designers work on projects such as urban mobility and electric scooters.

Wildfire currently represents Spin, a Ford Motors-backed eScooter company that recently debuted in the media following trials in several UK cities.

Learn more about Wildfire’s tech employer branding service here.

Paula Fifield

Paula began working with the agency in 2007 as Business Development Director and was appointed as a board director in 2011. Prior to Wildfire, Paula worked at Sun Microsystems, Orange and Morse Group in a range of marketing, customer relationship management and business development roles.