Corporate Venturing

Corporate Venturing

Organizing for Innovation

Jessica van den Bosch and Geert Duysters

Large organizations are seen to be struggling to keep up with today's fast changing market and technological developments. However, an increasing number of firms have started to engage in corporate venturing as a way to enhance their innovation process. This book fills the gap in management literature by providing a detailed account of best practices in the organization and management of such corporate ventures. The authors highlight eight main cases of organizations that employ corporate venturing within their firms. The cases are illustrative in showing how leading corporations organize their corporate venturing process and by highlighting the best practices that can be distilled from their experience.

Chapter 3: BAC BV: the successful exit of a Unilever spin-out

Jessica van den Bosch and Victor Gilsing

Subjects: business and management, corporate governance, entrepreneurship, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, organisational innovation


At the end of the nineteenth century, William Lever created Sunlight Soap with the goal of making hygiene universally available. In the early twentieth century, Lever’s company joined together with several other manufacturers to form an industrial combination that would eventually result in a merger and form the seeds of the Unilever Company. The goals of promoting health and home and personal care, along with producing healthy foodstuffs, still form the core of the company’s activities in 2014. John Coombs joined Unilever as a management trainee in their engineer trainee programme. His career at Unilever grew – through engineering, factory management and consumer marketing – until in 2001 he learned that Unilever was talking about setting up a venture capital business. Coombs volunteered to design that business, together with a small team, and eventually became Managing Director of Unilever Ventures Europe.

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