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Which corporates work best with startups - and how?

The Corporate Startup Stars is a set of awards, now in its fourth year, which Nesta runs as part of the Startup Europe Partnership project, in partnership with Mind the Bridge.

The awards are intended to recognise large European firms that have gone out of their way to work with startups, in order to promote corporate-startup collaboration as a mechanism for helping startups scale.

The 2019 winners were announced during an award ceremony at the SEP Scaleup Summit in Madrid. To share best practices, we also organised roundtable discussions among corporate innovation managers and we launched new research, describing the open innovation activities of the 2019 Corporate Startup Stars.

Who are the 2019 Corporate Startup Stars?

An expert judging panel selected Enel, SAP and Telefonica as the top three firms, based on their extensive internal and external dedication to open innovation. In total, 36 companies received awards in various categories, including best accelerator programme, most innovative programme and best new entrant. This year’s edition also featured a special mention for the public sector. The full list of awardees is available here.

Madrid Scaleup Summit

What do the 2019 Corporate Startup Stars have in common?

In our new report, we analysed the activities that Corporate Startup Stars have in common and observed some interesting patterns:

  • Corporate Startup Stars’ engagement with startups is based on sound internal innovation structures, processes and strategies that have top-level buy-in. For example, 97 per cent have a dedicated open innovation unit and 89 per cent report to a chief-level innovation executive.
  • Corporate Startup Stars ensure they go beyond “innovation theatre” to interact meaningfully with startups through a mix of programmes. The most common modes of interaction are organising competitions such as hackathons (95 per cent), procuring from startups (94 per cent) and investing in them (94 per cent).
  • The majority of Corporate Startup Stars have a corporate accelerator program (70 per cent). They tend to run it in more than one European country and typically accelerate 10 or more startups per year.
  • More than half (58 per cent) of the corporates have acquired at least one startup in the past three years. Typically, they spend more than 50 million euros on these startup acquisitions.

Author

Charlotte Reypens

Charlotte Reypens

Charlotte Reypens

Senior Policy Researcher (Startups & Entrepreneurship), New Technology & Startups

Charlotte carries out research projects to understand how startups and entrepreneurship can be supported across Europe.

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Denise Van Blitterswijk

Denise Van Blitterswijk

Denise Van Blitterswijk

Senior Policy Advisor, New Technology & Startup Research

Denise carried out research projects that inform startup and entrepreneurship policy across Europe.

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Christopher Haley

Christopher Haley

Christopher Haley

Head of New Technology & Startup Research

Chris leads Nesta's research interests into how startups and new technologies can drive economic growth, and what this means for businesses, intermediaries and for the government.

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Egle Juospaityte

Egle Juospaityte

Egle Juospaityte

EU Project Manager, New Technology and Startups

Egle will be managing the Startup Europe Partnership 2.0 project (SEP 2.0) in the framework of Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme funded by the European Commission.

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