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Scaling Together: overcoming barriers in corporate-startup collaborations

This report analyses common barriers to corporate-startup collaboration and provides advice on how to overcome them.

This report analyses common barriers to corporate-startup collaboration and provides advice on how to overcome them.

Key findings

  • Corporate-startup collaboration is rapidly increasing, with more large firms seeing this as a mechanism for accessing innovation and/or promoting internal cultural change.
  • Such collaboration can bring numerous benefits to both partners, but there remain significant hurdles which can make these relationships difficult to initiate, manage and bring to fruition.
  • Based on interviews with multiple stakeholders and extensive research, the report provides a framework to help understand the common barriers to successful collaboration.
  • The report also provides a series of practical tips for corporates, startups, scale-ups and policymakers, on how to overcome these barriers.

Collaboration with startups and scale-ups is an increasingly important mechanism for corporate innovation. In a world where technology and business models are rapidly changing, firms with the ability to collaborate and co-create effectively are much more likely to survive the disruption of their industry and sustain competitive advantage. As one interviewee put it: “collaborating with startups allows us to play in the space of the disruptor without actually being disrupted”.

This report aims to provide a better understanding of the barriers corporates face when engaging on a collaborative programme with startups or scale-ups and, by drawing on successful examples, suggests ways in which they may be overcome.  The main target audience of this report is corporate executives and senior managers.  However, we also include some recommendations for startups, scale-ups and policymakers.

Written in collaboration with the Scale-up Institute, this study is part of the Startup Europe Partnership, a European Commission funded project with the mission of helping startups to scale through collaborations with corporates.

The next step will be to create a ranking of the best 25 startup friendly corporates: Europe’s 25 Corporate Startup Stars. The ranking will be published in June and startups can nominate the best corporates to work with via the online form.

Authors

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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Simona Bielli

Simona Bielli

Simona Bielli

Head of Programmes – Nesta Italia

Over the last year, Simona was working on a new exciting project that led to the foundation of Nesta Italia.

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Siddharth Bannerjee

Siddharth Bannerjee

Siddharth Bannerjee

Researcher, Digital Startups

Sidd was the policy researcher on two projects dedicated to fostering digital entrepreneurship and building entrepreneurial ecosystems across Europe – Startup Europe Partnership (SEP...

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