21 January 2024

Season 4, Episode 17. Innovation: Build, Buy or Partner with Ian Bergman

In a world where innovation is constantly redefining possibilities, how does one navigate the intricate balance between creativity, technology, and the human element to drive meaningful change?


In this captivating episode, host Natalie Born engages with Ian Bergman, a partner at Alchemist Accelerator, in a deep dive into the realms of innovation and corporate change. Bergman shares his unique journey, highlighting how a non-linear path led him to a profound understanding of innovation. From breaking his parents' computer networks as a child to his pivotal experiences at Microsoft and his current role in fostering startup innovation, Bergman's story is a testament to the power of embracing change. This episode offers invaluable insights into understanding customer-centric innovation, the importance of collaboration, and the dynamics of bringing groundbreaking ideas to fruition within large organizations.


Ian Bergman is a Partner at Alchemist Accelerator and head of AlchemistX, the company's corporate and government services division. As a self-described general-purpose nerd and corporate innovation agitator, Ian loves working at the intersection of emerging tech startups and the innovation needs of established organizations. Ian joined Alchemist from Microsoft, where, as head of the global Microsoft for Startups field organization, he was responsible for engaging and supporting startup ecosystems worldwide. Ian is also the host of the AlchemistX: Innovators Inside Podcast.


(00:00:00 - 00:04:59)The Unconventional Path to Innovation

  • Embracing non-obvious routes can lead to groundbreaking innovation.

  • Navigating career shifts provides diverse perspectives on technology and innovation.

  • Early experiences and interests can profoundly influence professional trajectories.


(00:05:00 - 00:09:59) Challenging the Status Quo at Microsoft

  • Adapting to changing market dynamics is crucial for innovation.

  • Customer-centric approaches are essential in product development.

  • Collaboration and vision alignment are key to realizing innovative ideas.


(00:10:00 - 00:14:59) Build, Buy, or Partner: Strategic Decision-Making

  • Assessing internal capabilities versus external opportunities is vital.

  • The 'not built here' mentality can hinder innovation.

  • Effective decision-making involves evaluating build, buy, or partner options.


(00:15:00 - 00:19:59) Embracing Challenges and Blockers in Innovation

  • Overcoming cultural and organizational hurdles is part of the innovation process.

  • Encouraging a culture that rewards risk-taking and learning from failures.

  • Navigating procurement and compliance challenges in introducing new ideas.


(00:20:00 - 00:23:59) Stakeholder Management: A Key to Successful Innovation

  • Building relationships and managing stakeholders is crucial for success.

  • Sharing credit and creating champions can amplify innovation efforts.

  • Transparency and communication are essential in driving organizational change.



  • "An innovator has to fall in love with the problem, not the solution." - Ian Bergman

  • "Confidentiality is worthless. 95% of the time. Tell people what you're doing and that's how you get credit." - Ian Bergman


Connect with Ian:

Website: https://www.alchemistaccelerator.com/corporate-innovators

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