For the better or worse, survival of the innovative projects in a company doesn't have a lot to do with its perceived value.
So, what can savvy leader do to protect their innovation initiatives?
First, they ought to continuously align their initiative(s) with the business strategy and whatever might be the key objectives. Things change, hence it's important to always be on top.
Second, they should regularly communicate with all relevant stakeholders. Why are you doing what you are doing? How will it serve the organisation? What are you doing right now? What is the next step? And so on. A lot of functions that are usually perceived as "innovation blockers" (e.g. legal, controlling, procurement) can be immensely helpful if they are kept in the loop.
And thirdly, the most important thing a leader can do is repeatedly get commitment from the relevant management rank as well as their innovation team(s). People forget. Things change. Promotions and demotions happen. As long as you have commitment, you can overcome any issue. But without it, every issue will seem like a gargantuan obstacle.
P.S. You might be interested in watching a webinar I did with Kristian, who is currently leading a group-wide project to remove barriers and speed up commercial/digital innovation throughout DNV, the world's leading classification society. We discussed some of the best practices for managing innovation in a large enterprise. You can watch the recording here.