Research Outline

Corporate-StartUp Collaboration


To learn and evaluate new approaches to the relationship between corporate and startup companies including exploring key elements required for it to succeed and if mediation or a soft approach has worked.

Early Findings

  • According to with the Harvard Business Review, "interorganizational asymmetries mean it is often not straightforward for such different firms to collaborate. Disparities in size, structure and power make it difficult for startups to connect with the right department and individuals within a large corporation. It is therefore imperative for corporations to provide startups with viable interfaces."
  • Two main approaches exist: cohorts and funnels.
  • "In a cohort, a set of startups participate in a programmatic initiative, such as an accelerator, over a pre-specified period, usually a few months. Peer engagement among the startups is often a key part of the process."
  • "In a funnel, many fewer startups complete the process than begin it. Startups get screened out as the process unfolds, often not being aware of other startups that are participating."
  • Several key elements should be contemplated when evaluating each of these approaches: 1) Ensure fit with partnering goals; 2) Span boundaries externally and within; and 3) Make adjustments to the interface.
  • The Inovo Group states that, "New software technologies and tools will make it possible to create Startup Collaboration Platforms that enable the relationships to become more automated, structured and efficient. These platforms will provide a distinct set of startup collaboration services, and the interfaces to access them, to both large companies and startups. A future scenario envisions how this could work."
  • Inovo mentions several trends in the corporate-startup landscape: Permeability of Corporate ‘Boundaries', One-on-one to N-to-M relationships, Digitalization, Increase in organizational uncertainty, Scouting becoming automated and commoditized, Increased transparency, Increasing capital specialization and sophistication in funding dynamics, Growing influence of Corporate-Startup intermediaries, and Transforming role of R&D.