Corporate meets Startups! Why more and more companies want to meet startups, and how to get to know startups

Startup cooperations are not only extremely interesting for small and medium-sized companies, but large companies have also long since recognised the trend towards innovation and cooperation. The number of large companies that cooperate with startups has risen steadily in recent years. But what is the reason for this? We give a few reasons why it makes sense to cooperate with a start-up as a corporate and explain the advantages and challenges. We also present interesting case studies of particularly successful cooperations between companies and start-ups.

Why do more and more companies cooperate with start-ups?

The reason for this is almost obvious: start-ups offer plenty of potential, inventiveness and innovative power. Corporates can profit from this. But the start-up mentality and culture can also be very exciting for companies. What a cooperation partnership ultimately looks like can look different. For whether an innovation partnership, research cooperation, supplier or customer relationship is ultimately entered into is entirely up to the two cooperating parties.

A special case here is the corporate start-up/ corporate spin-off, as it is not directly a partnership with an already existing start-up, but a spin-off of a company. If larger companies want to become active in the startup world themselves, or want to test an innovation idea, it may make sense for them not to do this under their well-known name. In this case a start-up can be founded specifically for this purpose.

But Corporate meets Startup, how does that actually happen? How can you as a company get to know a suitable start-up? There is no single perfect way, but a wide range of offers, including our Startup Scouting. We would like to present the different possibilities in our series of articles “Getting to know Startups”.

What are the benefits and challenges?

Startup cooperations can offer many advantages for corporates. These include innovative ideas and new technologies. But companies can also learn a lot from startups in terms of agility, work structures and processes. Especially in terms of flexibility and adaptability they often have an advantage. Since start-ups practice an open error culture and work with iterative processes, they are ahead of corporates in terms of flexibility. However, this is particularly important in today’s world in order to adapt to the rapidly changing needs of the market and to develop accordingly.

Of course, the companies also have a lot to give to the start-ups. Corporates possess a valuable treasure trove of knowledge and experience that they have been able to gather over the years and which a start-up company cannot have at its disposal. The start-ups can learn and profit from this. But access to resources and customer groups can also be extremely helpful for the start-ups. Among other things, the name of a large company as a partner can raise awareness and facilitate entry into new markets.

If carried out optimally, a cooperation therefore offers advantages for both start-ups and corporates and a win-win situation is created. Due to the numerous differences between the partners, cooperation can sometimes also become problematic. This is because in the case of “Corporate meets Startup” two fundamentally different worlds meet. Both partners must therefore pay more attention to transparency, clear management of expectations and mutual accommodation. In addition, corporates generally need much longer to make decisions than would be optimal for start-ups. Therefore, it is important that both sides put themselves in the partner’s situation in order to gain understanding for the partner. If this is observed and open communication takes place, both sides can benefit from the advantages of a partnership. These case studies, for example, show how successful such cooperation can be.

Examples of successful cooperation

What does a successful cooperation look like? EWE and the Berlin start-up Fresh Energy are showing how it can be done. Since last year, the utility’s electricity customers have been able to use the startup’s smart meter app. The digital solution developed by Fresh Energy provides an overview and transparency of electricity consumption. As a result, conscious power consumption and sustainability can be promoted and costs reduced.

In the automotive industry, too, the trend towards startup cooperations has long since arrived. Shortly after its foundation, the Dresden-based Startup Wandelbots was able to win Volkswagen as a cooperation partner. They are now working on joint projects in the Transparent Factory in Dresden. Wandelbots has developed a solution that makes the complex process of robot programming more efficient and easier. With the help of intelligent clothing, the movements can be executed which the robot should be able to perform – the robot eventually learns them by imitation. In an interview with Ambivation, Wandelbots CEO Christian Piechnick reports on the cooperation with Volkswagen.

One cooperating company we recently interviewed for our blog is agricultural machinery manufacturer John Deer. John Deer has long recognised the potential of cooperation and therefore works with not just one but several start-ups. One of them is Taranis. The start-up company has developed a method of detecting fungal infestations or pests by satellite image in order to take targeted measures. A further partner of John Deer is the Solorrow startup from Darmstadt, which offers an app for site-specific fertilisation. You can read more about these cooperation examples in the article on our blog.

These examples are an ideal way to show the advantages that cooperation can offer for start-ups and companies. If a few factors are considered, challenges can be avoided. A win-win situation is created for both partners if the implementation is successful. Many large companies have already recognised this and there is no way around start-up cooperation in the future. From now on it is “Corporate meets Startup”! In the following sections of our article series “Get to know Startups” we will discuss the various possibilities for companies to meet the right start-up. To stay informed about further cooperations, please subscribe to our newsletter. There we regularly report about cooperations of startups with corporates and SMEs, as well as current events in the startup world.

About Ambivation
Ambivation connects innovative companies and startups for cooperation and innovation partnerships. As an innovation consultancy and matchmaker, Ambivation promotes cooperation between established companies and startups within the framework of concrete customer, supplier and research partnerships. We support companies in the identification of needs, startup identification, startup evaluation and cooperation initiation with startups. Formats such as research on relevant startups, startup monitoring, strategic cooperation consulting or event formats such as startup tours serve this purpose. Our monthly newsletter also provides information on current examples of cooperation and events.