Software company Infragistics on June 24 announced the launch of its $50 million innovation fund and lab.
The Cranbury-based firm says the fund will create freedom for internal inventors to experiment with innovations beyond its core UI/UX products, without an immediate need to generate revenue.
The innovation lab was introduced by Infragistics founder and Chief Executive Officer Dean Guida, and will be led by Tobias Komischke, an expert in the field of usability engineering and head of data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning at Infragistics. Komischke spent seven years working at Infragistics before accepting a role as global director of user experience at Honeywell in 2015. In 2020, he returned to Infragistics to lead the new innovation lab.
“By giving our team the space and freedom it needs to create, and generating early feedback from our established industry connections, we are certain that we’ll bring the right tools to market,” said Komischke. “We know that innovation labs fail when they don’t strike the perfect balance of freedom and structure, making my mandate two-fold: create freedom by eliminating our team’s urgency to generate revenue, while introducing structure through a well-defined fail-fast-and-learn-quickly approach. The sooner we learn, the sooner we can begin investing vigorously in the projects that prove promising.
The decision to formalize the fund and introduce a dedicated lab comes as Infragistics embarks on its fourth decade in business.
The new fund is part of Infragistics’ larger commitment to nurturing a culture of innovation and cultivating the same entrepreneurial spirit responsible for its longevity in the technology arena. After years of funding innovation products informally, the fund introduces a formal delineation between Infragistics’ revenue-generating products and its pre-market growth products.
All Infragistics employees are encouraged to pitch ideas that leverage their collective expertise in artificial intelligence, analytics and digital product design. Projects can make use of any programming frameworks and require the most advanced technologies available, including data science and machine learning (DSML), AI-informed design and collaboration workstreams.
Under Komischke’s guidance, the innovation lab team has developed a proprietary and structured innovation process to prototype, test and thoroughly assess new ideas for market viability. Projects that make it past internal and external reviews will be provided experimental capital to take the innovation from concept and prototype all the way to market.
The innovation lab is located in the company’s 74,000 square-foot New Jersey headquarters. The lab is part of Infragistics’ $22 million investment in converting a vacant, two-story warehouse into an open work environment.
“We have thrived through major economic recessions, tech bubbles and bursts by taking a hands-on, entrepreneurial approach to growing Infragistics,” said Guida. “Our model is made possible through the nurturing of internal inventors and entrepreneurs who keep our spirit of innovation alive. I know first-hand that an entrepreneur’s success is dependent on his or her ability to dream, invent and contribute in very tangible ways. Infragistics’ new Innovation Fund and Lab mark our commitment to letting our team do exactly that.”
As part of his work with the innovation lab, Komischke also developed an innovation fellowship with Rutgers University, which contributes a regular stream of insights that help the company shape its ongoing innovation.