Corning Incorporated (B): Bringing Rigor to Early-Stage Opportunity Identification

By Robert Burgelman, Lyn Denend
2008 | Case No. SM167B

In November 2005, members of Corning Incorporated’s early-stage opportunity identification and development team were preparing to make a recommendation regarding whether or not the company should move forward with a project to develop mercury abatement technology to help power plants meet impending U.S. legislation for the cleaner use of coal. This opportunity, which had been surfaced through Corning’s relatively new process for early-stage opportunity identification, was believed by some to have the potential to become a sizable new business. As the company evaluated whether or not to invest in the development of this new venture, it was equally important for Corning to consider the effectiveness of its early-stage opportunity identification process. With limited resources and a pressing need to increase the company’s rate of innovation, this process was designed to take as much guesswork as possible out of the ambiguous “art” of identifying new business prospects. This case describes the Corning process for identifying and evaluating early-stage opportunities and allows readers to construct a recommendation as to what Corning should do regarding its mercury abatement project.

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