GREENVILLE, S.C.—Innovation isn't just another buzzword for Michelin.
It is the key strategy behind the company's investment in resources in order to produce unique products and services and enter into new markets, according to Ralph Dimenna, a senior vice president for the world's second largest tire maker.
Dimenna directs Michelin's global incubator program, developed within the last few years to take new innovations into the market and organically grow the company outside of the firm's core tire business.
While the Tweel tire technology represents the company's most viable product thus far from the incubator program, it is just one of many innovations that the group is pursuing. That's the message Dimenna delivered during his keynote address at the ACS Rubber Division's 187th Technical Meeting, held at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville.
The incubator program office has locations in Greenville; Clermont-Ferrand, France; and Shanghai. Its goal is to deliver new ideas, new business models, new ways of working and new processes for bringing innovative products into the market in a “very profitable, sustainable manner,” Dimenna said.
The company is funding five initiatives in North America, all generated internally, while examining other areas to pursue.
“We took some of those teams to a fairly sophisticated boot camp in terms of, what does it look like to have an idea, and build a business model around that,” Dimenna said.
Dimenna said Michelin has launched five startups in Europe, providing mentoring and an “a to z approach in terms of product to market, the financial support, the marketing support, the business acumen.”
Many of the endeavors are on a short funding leash, Dimenna said. Each undertaking is reviewed every 90 days, “and if we do not consider they are moving fast enough with their project, we are in the environment where we'll stop the funding, pivot and reorient to something else,” he said.
“That is very different for a big industrial company like Michelin.”