Three Essential Tips for Successful Startup Collaborations

Our Innovation Leader Linus Arnold shares his key recommendations for corporates looking to collaborate with startups.

Working with startups can bring immense value to corporates but there is a series of internal processes that should be followed to ensure fruitful collaborations for both parties.

Here are Ignite’s Innovation Leader Linus Arnold’s top three tips for corporates to succeed in their startup collaborations.

1. Set an external innovation strategy that includes startup collaborations

“Many corporates lack an overall innovation strategy. They have an R&D strategy, but they don’t have a clear strategy that covers the different methods of reaching their innovation targets, including startup collaborations,” says Linus.

Linus highlights the importance of listing innovation targets and defining whether they will be addressed through internal or external innovation.

“Corporates cannot afford not to explore startup collaborations. Prominent startups have the resources to solve specific industrial problems. Corporates have many challenges to address that they need to prioritize. Identifying, evaluating and integrating startups’ innovation is a cost-efficient way to implement solutions that otherwise would have taken years to achieve,” says Linus

It is difficult for any big organization that does not have any experience working with startups to suddenly change and test startup innovations without a strategy supporting the process.

“There should be a predefined process for what should be done after meeting a good startup and how to proceed from the first meeting to actually testing their solution and then integrating and deploying it,” explains Linus.

2. Think beyond product innovation

Most corporates naturally focus on improving their products when working with innovation. An excellent product is in many industries a baseline for staying competitive. However, applying innovation to other processes within the organization, where it also can be easier to test, evaluate and integrate external solutions, can add immense value and efficiency to a corporate.

“It’s important to look beyond product innovation into other areas that could have a positive impact on your business. These areas could include predictive maintenance, logistics, or anything else where it is easier to align the right people and create the structures necessary for finding and testing startup innovations. This will also generate great value for the startup,” explains Linus.

3. Ensure internal alignment

“One common mistake many corporations make is not to have internal alignment when you start this process, so you have people within the organization trying to convince others internally in order to make things happen. It takes a long time to decide whether the startup is a good fit or not. So not only do you need to have a process in place but also define the departments within your organization that will assess and evaluate the startup and take the decisions of going further with a collaboration,” says Linus.

He also explains that it is a risk if only one person within the company is doing all the interface with the startups.

“I think there should be a team working together with the startup to ensure they bring in the right need owners at the right time from internal planning”.

Finally, he advises innovation teams to take the ISO certification 56002 on Innovation Management.

“This certification will ensure that every person in the team uses the same language internally and understands how to work with innovation management not only generally but also when it comes to collaborating with startups,” he concludes.

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