Filiz Sarah Gärtner

How can startups and corporates successfully collaborate? Best practices with business incubators, accelerators and partnerships

Many reasons why startups and corporates seek collaboration are clear: startups benefit from funding, expertise as well as from a business and sales network, while large corporates profit from startups’ innovative power, operational speed and creativity.  A large percentage of corporates stated that they require startups to enable innovation for their business. In an equal collaboration, the vital effect of startups for the innovation process of big companies meets the need of startups for a powerful patron. But when new and established businesses come together, they most likely face challenges like a culture clash or the struggle of control and independence. However, equal and successful collaboration is possible! Find out how with the best practices in incubations, accelerations and partnerships.

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Collaboration of startups and corporates – best practice #1: Incubators

The startup is freshly hatched and could use some guidance in the big world of business? Perfect time to get together with an incubator. In this kind of cooperation, established companies function as a nurturing mentor, from whose business skills and networks startups can profit. At the same time the corporation gets access to innovative ideas. An example for a successful incubator is the Y Combinator, which offers seed funding and a 3-month boot camp for startups. This way the startups keep their independence while gaining valuable mentorship and networking opportunities. Furthermore, corporates do not have to underwrite big risks.

Collaboration of startups and corporates – best practice #2: Accelerators

A closer relationship between startup and corporate is given in an acceleration. An accelerator offers startups a more intensive support for a longer time than the incubator, but still treats them as the independent business they are. The aim is to develop strategies for rapid growth with the help of a mentoring company. Accelerators like Microsoft Ventures and Techstars are exactly doing this. It’s a collaboration where startups can get more funding and preapproval for future VC investments – and corporations bring up valuable partners. In other words: After an incubator taught them how to walk, the accelerator enables them to fly.

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Collaboration of startups and corporates – best practice #3: Partnerships

The startup is all grown up and stands on its own feet? Then it is ready to enter into a serious long-term partnership with a corporate. In this collaboration startups and larger businesses meet on eye-level and develop ideas together. While the startup offers passion and “out of the box” thinking, the business partner provides resources, experience and legitimacy – together they are able to develop great innovations. One company that knew exactly how to engage in well-chosen partnerships is E Ink Corporation: since their foundation in 1997 they have entered several successful partnerships over the years, including Sony, Motorola and Amazon. One resulting product that speaks for the successful story is the Kindle.

So, to create new ideas and think outside of the box it is definitely necessary that startups and successful companies get together. Are you interested in taking that next step toward innovative collaboration? Then start now by becoming a part of the global CODE_n ecosystem, which offers you not only access to international startups and established corporations but also individual ways to stimulate your innovation process. Get more information about your opportunities and benefits as a startup or as an established company here!

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