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Corporate-startup collaboration is the way to go

FEBRUARY 19, 2017
Wherever you look, innovation today is increasingly led by startups. “They are simply better-placed to harness technology to recalibrate existing business models and invent new ones altogether,” according to Giuseppe Zocco, co-founder at Index Ventures. Corporates are becoming more attentive to the added value that startups may bring to their business, but are not always sure about how to approach collaboration.

“Big corporates are waking up to the fact that startups, especially digital and tech businesses, are disrupting whole industries from the bottom up. Forward looking corporates see startups not as a threat, but as potential partners to create more value for their company, consumers and sectors,” paraphrasing a recent study, titled “Winning Together: A guide to successful corporate-startup collaborations“.

Startups and large companies bring each other immense opportunities through collaborations that, if harnessed correctly, create win-win situations for both. This study illustrates how by showing powerful examples of how corporate-startup collaboration can help defend and grow market position.

“There’s never been a better moment for large corporations and startups to work together. (…) With the right partnership, carefully forged, both can benefit hugely, while simultaneously creating extraordinary value for their customers” – Giuseppe Zocco, co-founder at Index Ventures


“We believe every corporate manager should have an interest in startups,” Nesta, Founders Intelligence and the Startup Europe Partnership explain the rationale behind their joint research project. “Because startups are driving major innovations that disrupt entire industries – from hospitality to mobility and financial services. (…) These young companies are powered by digitalization, entrepreneurial spirit and the agility to pivot swiftly.”

That’s why corporates should see startups as potential partners that are perfectly positioned to create more value for the company, the consumer, and the whole industry. “I’d argue strongly that, for the vast majority of corporations, it’s far more valuable to figure out how to leverage the innovation that startups have accomplished through mutually-beneficially partnerships,” Giuseppe Zocco stresses.


Whereas an increasing number of corporates want to start working with startups, many do not know where to start. “Our research suggests that many large firms think too little about questions of strategic alignment, ultimate goals and success metrics. Lack of internal buy-ins is another problem that managers of existing corporate startup programs reported as their key barrier,” the report summarizes. “A pivotal but often overlooked element is the need for mutual benefit and consideration of the startup perspective, without which a program can be doomed from the outset.”

The study helps corporate executives and managers tackle these issues. For corporates actively working with startups, the report will be a useful tool in checking and fine-tuning their programs. It presents a three-step approach that clears up the most important objectives for corporate engagement. Additionally, a series of case studies tell stories of good practice within existing corporate startup programs. They clearly illustrate the transformative benefits that working with startups can have for corporates’ core business.