Startup-Corporate collaboration: it is time mid-sized companies come into play

An interesting post by David Osimo puts on the table a key topic for Europe, i.e. the relevance and urgency to involve our mid-sized companies into open innovation and startup collaboration.

The good news is that the startup culture is now percolating into European large corporations. Virtually all large companies now have startup collaboration programs, from co-working and competitions to procurement/co-development schemes up to investment/acquisition dedicated departments.

We at Startup Europe Partnership have contributed to this process, by creating qualified meeting opportunities between large corporates -more than 40 have been involved from various industries – and the most promising 300 European startups and scale-ups.

“This is certainly commendable, but is it enough?”, asks David. The honest answer is: “Nope. This is certainly good, but not enough”.

Large corporates represent only a fraction of the European economy. We can’t overlook the key role played by smaller, more traditional mid-cap companies, especially in traditional sectors such as manufacturing. Such companies could hugely benefit from this kind of collaboration if they are helped to fully embrace the potential of digital, big data, IOT, cloud computing, 3D printing …

sme-assembly-2016This challenge is even more worrying since, contrarily to large corporations, most mid-caps lack the awareness and skills to establish and manage collaboration with startups.

“How can we help startups to partner with the core traditional players of the economy?” is the open question David poses.

The experience we accrued with the Startup Europe Partnership tells us that the platform and methodology – properly adjusted – can be expanded to involve mid-sized companies.

As people coming from the startup world, we have done our own beta testing. The experience with some mid-caps has been positive: a service company adopted the solution of a startup through procurement, acqui-hired another startup by bringing in-house digital talents and invested in a third one. All this in less than a year.

With the proper enabling conditions, startup collaboration can be extended to mid-caps. And the potential outcome is huge.

This is a topic to be further discussed at SME Assembly next week in Bratislava.