Successfully shaping the collaboration between startups and corporates

Expertise Corporate Startup Zumammenarbeit

Corporate Startup Collaboration

Design programs and enable collaborations

Corporates need to collaborate with startups for many reasons. But there are too many corporate initiatives in the German-speaking world. Each initiative needs to be well differentiated from the competition to attract good startups. The programs need a strong focus. Besides, the added value for the target group of startups really has to fit. 

We advise and accompany established companies in the selection and design of programs. These have the ambition to enable long-term cooperation. We hold workshops to transfer knowledge. We provide accelerators with blended learning content through our platform key2investors. These are virtual labs, online training and programs along the investor readiness process.

Startup initiatives are a dime a dozen

In recent years, the number of startup initiatives has almost exploded. In addition to accelerators, incubators, corporate venture funds, smart purchasing, there are client venture models. For startups, the market alone is difficult to keep track of with more than 200 accelerators. In addition, there are initiatives such as competitions, individual cooperation agreements, one-time events, or corporate venture capital.

Those responsible regularly ask themselves whether the initiative is paying off. Accordingly, initiatives quickly disappear from the market.

Programs for strategic goals

We see a trend toward highly specialized programs. This makes the initiatives distinguishable from their market peers. It becomes clearer which startups are being sought in which phase. The added value for the startups is more emphasized. But it also means that Corporate has better specified what it needs.

We have seen too broad of initiatives in the past.


Set up the suitable program

Numerous cooperation models have already been tried and tested for years. Over time, however, these are being re-focused. Strong competition means that the models need to be well-focused. We focus on the added value that only corporates can bring. This includes customer access, a test environment, or a supplier network. It is important for us to include the goals of the startups that you want to win. This results in highly individualized models that are a good fit for you and the startups.

Realistic goals

We support established companies in setting goals for their startup initiative. Together we set realistic strategic and financial goals. Good practice comparisons help to formulate the goals. These are linked to the goals of the overall company. We adapt them so that they are also attractive to the startups you want to target. The whole thing then naturally fits in with realistic budget assumptions.

Tailor cooperation models

There are many forms of cooperation models. Together we develop a customized model. It should fit your company and the startups. It should bring the expected added value to both. For this purpose, we use basic models and adapt them. Currently, we see greater chances of success with venture client models and individual collaborations. Individual models can also be institutionalized. Together we lift your internal treasures and define what is attractive for startups.

Engage resources and stakeholders

Why are programs abandoned after about 3 years? One main reason is the unrealistic objectives. The second is the lack of internal commitment. Both at the management level and within the organization itself, this is often lacking. Many people have to help out in order to implement a program successfully. We look at stakeholder management. It is important to us that resources are realistically planned and committed. Furthermore, we work together to provide continuous feedback within the organization.

Processes, trade fairs and communication

Several things are necessary to make an initiative successful.

  • Setting up the appropriate organization to oversee the program
  • Implementing procedures
  • Establishing single points of contact
  • Holding regular steering sessions

Measuring contribution to defined goals and activities on a quarterly basis. We make sure that everyone is on board. Both for a program and for individual collaborations. We make sure that all sides see the added value and want more.

Cooperation and program support

„Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is a success.” Henry Ford hit the nail on the head.  Only by working together on a daily basis can we achieve the expected added value. The biggest problem areas are on the corporate side. This is based not only on our experience but also on numerous studies.

Decisions are made too slowly
decision-making channels are unclear
communication, in general, is difficult
the hurdles and internal regulations are too complex,
the goals of both sides do not match
the “not invented here” syndrome.

But this can all be solved, as successful initiatives show.

We work with regular monitoring and scorecards. This makes the potential for improvement and what has already been achieved in terms of targets transparent. We strive to get even more out of the cooperation. Cooperation is a living construct. Adjustments over time are needed.