If you’ve been a citizen of planet Earth for long enough, chances are you’ve heard of Bayer – one of the biggest life sciences companies in the world. They’ve done a great deal for today’s medicine by inventing plenty of life-saving medicines including headache’s arch enemy, Aspirin.

Therefore, we got excited when we were contacted by Bayer Bulgaria.They wanted to light up the entrepreneurial spark of their team and were curious to learn if we could help them. We met for coffee, discussed their needs and goals, and together we came up with an action plan.

They were going to run an internal acceleration program called Catalyst Box and we were going to provide them with the creative environment needed for it. And so, we did.

The program lasted 3 months during which several Bayer teams worked on their ideas for optimizing the company processes and creating more value for their customers. Around 30 people joined the Puzl CowOrKing community as part-time members and came once a week to switch off from their office duties and focus on their projects.

Recently, the program ended, and we approached the organizer Bilyana Vasileva (Digital Specialist for Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova) to tell us more about the experience.

Hey there, Bilyana!The last months have been quite hectic for you and your colleagues. Tell us more about Catalyst Box.

Catalyst Box is an intrapreneurship program with which we wanted to give opportunity to our employees to explore their innovation ideas, running fast experimentation, in a completely different set up compared to what they were used to. They were given the time to really work on their ideas, prepare their propositions, experiment and de-risk their business models. This was an entry level that prepared the participants for more advanced entrepreneurship programs. The goal here was to allow them to gather more evidence for their ideas. This, of course, correlates with more investment opportunities for them inside the organization. The program ended with a pitch to potential investors from Bayer who are still to decide whether they will support some of the projects.

How many teams took part in the challenge?

We had 4 teams working for 12 weeks on their challenges and ideas from Puzl CowOrKing. We wanted to cover all our core businesses, so we had teams representing both our health care and agriculture fields of expertize, as well as administration functions.

How did the teams feel at Puzl CowOrKing?

They were all very impressed by the setup of the place! It is inspirational, to say the least! It’s really designed to provide you the best possible working experience, tailor made for its inhabitants. It really gave us the opportunity to engage with our coworkers, either by directly approaching them or joining the events and activities organized by Puzl CowOrKing.

How did you come up with the idea to collaborate with Puzl CowOrKing?

Innovation is an integral part of our work and strategy. We are constantly searching for new technologies and creative approaches, and how they can apply in our areas of expertise. Collaborating with the external world is a crucial part of this journey and Puzl CowOrKing has reputation of one of the best coworking spaces in Bulgaria. I have to say what really attracted us was the community of freelancers, startups, service providers and investment funds from all corners of the tech industry.

So, what’s next for Bayer and the teams?

The program ended with a Demo Day where all teams pitched their ideas to the rest of their colleagues. We’ve filmed their pitches and we’ve sent them to a jury consisting of the senior company management who will decide which of the ideas will be financed and implemented.

Complementing our expertise with the know-how of excellent partners is an integral part of the innovation strategy at Bayer. Just because the program ran its course, doesn’t mean we will simply disconnect from the community, or stop seeking other opportunities for collaboration! We're excited about the future and all its possibilities!