The specialist conference “Startup Cooperation” on 21 and 22 February 2017 in Munich – a follow-up report

How companies profit from startups and vice versa was the topic of the first conference organized by SZ Events around the topic “Startup Cooperation”. Last February numerous company representatives from medium-sized companies and corporate groups gathered in Munich to exchange their experiences with startups in lectures and discussions. Both the motives for cooperation and possible forms of cooperation were discussed. The Ambi-Vation team was also present and would like to thank the organizers of SZ events for the excellent organization.

Schedule of the two-day conference
The conference was opened by the experienced business angel Willem Bulthuis, who moderated the event and introduced the topic with a short keynote speech. This was followed by a wide range of experts and company representatives from a wide variety of industries who reported on their practical experience to date in specialist presentations. After three presentations and a short summary by the moderator the discussion was opened to the public and then deepened in a smaller group in front of the hall. The lectures were divided into four main topics:

  • The Corporates’ Perspective: How Established Companies Benefit from Startups
  • Experience of startup networks and investors
  • First steps on the way to startup cooperations
  • Daily reality


Review of the conference
Peter Guse, Managing Director of the Robert Bosch Start-up GmbH introduced the first block of topics. He initially defined disruption and Generation Y as two central drivers for cooperation with startups from the group’s point of view. Initially, Alexander Popp of Trumpf GmbH & Co. KG. and explained his understanding of corporate groups as strategic partners for startups on the basis of examples of cooperation that had already taken place. The first block of lectures was rounded off by the presentation of the still young incubator Fluxunit GmbH (Osram) and its approach to motivate both external and internal employees for startups and new business models.

This was followed by a lecture by Martin Fröhlich from the d.lab innovation laboratory of Deutsche Bahn. He summarized his previous experiences with the challenges arising from the corporate structure when working with startups. The core statement was that in addition to flexible structures, an internal partner within the group was particularly important, as this partner had to provide startups and new business models with access to resources and decision-makers. The following lecture showed the audience the working methods of startups at breathtaking speed and the speed of the presentation alone made the difference to the much quoted “speedboat/tanker” metaphor clear. After that RIO, a new brand from the MAN or Volkswagen group presented internal responsibility for group-wide digitisation projects.

After a talkative lunch, the group’s view shifted to networks and investors. HTGF Managing Director Dr. Alex von Frankenberg started with his previous investment experience and the thesis that (corporate) venture capital is particularly suitable for incremental innovations. When Dr. Martin Sundermann, partner of the law firm Osborne Clarke, tried the “tanker” metaphor again after further presentations, the afternoon was already drawing to a close. Central to the settlement for the lawyer was the urgently needed position of pilot, who coordinates both tankers and tugboats and could also come from outside. After a renewed discussion about suitable instruments of participation and their contractual arrangement, the conference was moved to the restaurant around the corner for dinner.

Markus Köpschall from Festo AG & Co. KG started the second day of the conference. KG, reporting on previous cooperation experiences and their advantages and challenges. In order to deviate from theoretical models and concepts, the cooperation with the startup Proglove was presented by means of a short film. This was followed by a lecture on the corporate venture capital approach at Media-Saturn-Holding GmbH, in which speaker Juliane Schiefer emphasized the importance of corporate venture capital as an interface and bridge builder within the group. In the further course of the day, the topic shifted to discussions on success factors, an error culture and a critical view of the accelerator concept.

After a very positive response and the good exchange of experts at the first symposium, the second symposium startup cooperation is already planned for 22 and 23 November 2017. The focus will be on Automotive & Mobility, which is why the event will take place in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart. The Ambi-Vation team will also be there. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the organizers of SZ Publishing or us directly. The preliminary program for the 2nd conference can be found here.

About Ambivation

Ambivation connects established companies with startups for innovation partnerships. As an innovation consultancy and matchmaker, Ambivation facilitates collaboration between founders and executives for general exchange, concrete customer, supplier or research partnerships. Ambivation supports companies in the identification of needs, startup identification, startup evaluation and initiation of cooperation. Formats such as research of relevant startups, startup monitoring, strategic cooperation consulting or event formats such as startup tours or Design Thinking workshops serve this purpose. The monthly newsletter also informs curious company representatives about current collaboration examples and events related to these cooperations.