A newsletter that just appeared on the EMC web site  once again raises the intriguing concept of intrapreneurship. Can you really be an entrepreneur inside a large company? Can you have an "enterprise" within the enterprise?
I think the answer is a strong yes. A large company is basically its own market for creating and advancing ideas. In last year's Innovation Conference, more than 700 employees offered one or more ideas, and 3000 voted on them. The ideas ultimately were "sold" to a panel of business unit CTOs and R&D center executives who acted as VCs and decided which ideas to invest in.
Politicians spend a lot of time thinking about how to encourage entrepreneurship and investment in a region or technology space. Executives do the same for intrapreneurship -- but have much more influence on the outcome.
The Innovation Conference is one example of EMC's investment along these lines -- a way to create a market for ideas. EMC Research Cambridge, which Rob Masson describes in the newsletter, is another way of encouraging ideas by connecting employees with the university research community.
Steve Todd, also mentioned in the newsletter, is a classic example of an intrapreneur who thrives in this environment. He's been a top contributor to the conference and is also a driver of university research collaborations. Steve makes the most of the investments in the internal "market" to move good ideas through the ecosystem.
The ideas and the inventors are already there -- it's just a matter of making the path to intrapreneurship a little easier.
 Intrapreneurial Intent: A Newsletter for Innovators at Large Companies. EMC, April 2010.