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DPD Fusion to solve a key business challenge – in just three days

Ellie Gyaurova

Numerous studies, including a recent report by management consultants KPMG, cite open innovation and collaboration with startups as key parts of a successful innovation strategy. Yet, while 88% of corporates appear to recognise the potential of working with startups, very few manage to realise that potential. That is, few companies succeed in forming long-term partnerships with young tech businesses, and few partnerships succeed in delivering tangible results. When they’re asked, “What went wrong?”, corporates from across sectors tend to cite the same obstacles: poor understanding and coordination between parties; excessively long timeframes; and ideas that are neither clearly defined nor easy-to-implement.

But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way, not anymore.

L Marks’ Fusion brings together corporate executives and exceptional startups

Earlier this year, L Marks launched Fusion, a fast-paced, three-day competitive programme which brings together corporate executives, business and operational teams and a select group of startups with the purpose of co-designing solutions for a key business challenge. Working in mixed teams, participants rapidly progress through all the stages of the innovation process, from ideation through to prototyping and testing and subsequent implementation.

Because L Marks’ Fusion centres on collaboration, iteration and quick decision making, it makes for a truly agile way of working – something which isn’t usually associated with corporate businesses. The blending of different perspectives and skills fuels creative thinking, while the fast pace of the programme and the focus on generating workable solutions highlights how the layers of bureaucracy impede change. Moreover, as well as producing bespoke solutions, the collaborative nature of Fusion inspires stakeholders to identify opportunities for further innovation and, no less important, provides the tools that’ll help them bring their ideas to life.

Fusion Case Study: DPD (UK)

In October 2019, L Marks ran Fusion in partnership with DPD (UK), the UK’s leading parcel delivery company. DPD’s objective was to find a workable and cost-effective solution for tracking their totes and magnums (within their UK network and across unknown locations, for example, customer sites) with a view to significantly reducing the annual cost incurred by the loss of these assets.

L Marks scouts identified numerous startups working on technologies relevant to the challenge and, following a rigorous selection process, five companies were invited to join the three-day DPD Fusion programme based at the company’s Hinckley site.

The five startups were each paired with stakeholders from DPD who were able to provide sector knowledge and insight into internal processes. The mixed teams then spent the following three days developing, testing and iterating prototypes, finally presenting their solutions and implementation strategies to an executive judging panel.

Not only did DPD find an innovative solution to a persistent challenge in record time, but two startups, Polymer Logistics and WND, secured contracts with the company. DPD is currently piloting a combined tracking solution and predicts cost-savings of £1.75m annually.