A tale of tech giants: How Philips competes with the likes of Google to reinvent an entire industry

A tale of tech giants: How Philips competes with the likes of Google to reinvent an entire industry


There’s a reason startups use this buzzword – they’re all about trying new things, testing them, and doing it all over again.

As fast-moving startups continue to topple incumbent companies, more traditional organizations must figure out how to stay relevant.

For many organizations, breaking into an entrepreneurial mindset can be difficult. But once accomplished, businesses can then push the boundaries of what’s expected in their respective industries.

Companies like Google and Philips are embracing the innovative and energetic vibe of startups, while still enjoying the ability to scale effectively.

Just last year, Google reimagined its Life Science research unit – rebranded as Verily – to uncover new truths about health and disease.

Philips is also working hard on creating a world where technology and healthcare are partners.

With an ‘anything is possible’ mentality, Philips’ own cross-sector innovation platform throws out some of the more dated, corporate rules, embracing instead the best aspects of a nimble startup culture.

Its Digital Accelerator has been busy the past four years. With the goal of accelerating internal innovation, the team at Philips are involved in Artificial Intelligence healthcare applications, Blockchain, as well as gamified experiences to improve lifestyle choices – just to name a few.  

The aim of the Digital Accelerator is to define and validate the next generation of breakthrough digital propositions that can help tackle the world’s biggest healthcare challenges. According to Alberto Prado, Head of Philips’ Digital Accelerator:

[We] focus on creating a startup environment, as this is a fundamental part of what acceleration is about.

The Philips Cambridge location provides many perks that you would find in a startup environment: Yoga Tuesdays, bagels and fruit on Wednesday, food trucks in house for lunch. And those are just the peripheral benefits.

Being able to define, test, and validate next generation connection solutions is at the core of what we do.

Prado continued:

We have successfully applied some of our startup methods to deliver innovative propositions for SoniCare Kids, and are currently engaged in validating whether we could use the same principles for preparing kids that need to undergo an MRI procedure, avoiding unnecessary sedation and ultimately, improving outcomes.

A good example of this is their Connected Sensing Venture, which is making improvements to the efficiency and quality of patient monitoring in low acuity settings. It’s not only changing the way that caregivers deal with patients, but it’s helping Philips change the way they deliver value to clients, addressing their needs and concerns in ways that were not possible before.

There’s also a team at Philips Research that developed a facial mapping algorithm, which can take a photo of someone’s face and create a digital model of it.

They’ve used the technology for a few products already, but most interestingly, they used it to analyze different faces from around the world to design a new Respironics sleep mask. The new mask fits people that other masks don’t, and not unexpectedly, Respironics substantially expanded their market.

A day at Philips Digital Accelerator

Prado is very excited to be creating, complementing, supporting and mentoring in-house startup teams to move in an autonomous and accelerated way. They are doing this while leveraging all the benefits that come from operating within a global tech leader.

It’s all taking place outside of the standard Philips office environment so teams will not feel hampered by corporate culture, processes and expectations.

In other words, says Prado:

The goal is for each team to develop and nurture an entrepreneurial mindset that makes them highly autonomous, while still leveraging the wealth of healthcare expertise available internally, as well as the power of execution at scale. The teams, once through the Digital Accelerator, become ambassadors of this new way of creating innovation.

All of this is to say, Philips has created an entire ecosystem for true innovation that exists within their corporate brand but operates entirely on its own in true startup fashion. Next year, the Accelerator is looking to intensify its efforts towards incubating ad investing in external ventures to accelerate innovation even further.

This is the place where the healthcare industry is being disrupted. This is where real life solutions are being created to make the world a better place.


This post is brought to you by Philips.