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Three ways to aid success of corporate and start-up partnerships


Unilever Foundry’s asked start-ups and companies around the world what was needed to ensure their partnership’s success. Here’s what they found out.

Staff from start-ups

At their very best corporate and start-up collaborations have the potential to fuel growth, pioneer business solutions and be an invaluable source of innovation. At their worst, they can be an expense PR exercise that leaves both sides jaded and out of pocket.

How to ensure that the ‘state of innovation’ is a win–win for both partners was the key driver of Unilever Foundry’s first white paper, launched at Dmexco, one of the digital marketing industry’s biggest global conferences of the year.

The research saw the Unilever Foundry gather the opinions of more than 200 brand managers and 100 start-ups around the globe on the current state of play for tech collaborations. Here’s what they found:

1: Working side by side needs to be the norm

Working in the same space on the same project speeds decisions, processes and understanding of both parties’ working culture. It can also increase the opportunity for innovation by leveraging the skill sets of both parties. The white paper sees this as normal business practice by 2025.

Food for thought: Unilever Foundry is adopting this across its hubs now. Last year saw the launch of a collaborative workspace, LEVEL3 in Singapore. 2017 saw it create a similar co-working space with Dog Patch Labs in Dublin.

2: Process not PR will ensure success

Corporates can enjoy a certain kudos from a start-up collaboration but for a partnership to generate more than just headlines, relationships needs to be built and processes need to be in place.

Three key concerns from start-ups were smooth procurement processes (89%), access to resources and networks (88%) and the ability to scale up successes (87%).

Food for thought: Unilever Foundry’s Pitch, Pilot and Partner process has seen Head of Unilever Foundry, Jonathan Hammond and his team successfully scale up 48% of more than 100 of its pilots in the past three years.

3: Collaborations will become business critical

Some 22% of those surveyed for the white paper said ineffective partnerships were a consideration in choosing future partnerships and projects.

Food for thought: Unilever Foundry has scouted more than 10,000 start-ups, and engaged with 4,500+. Of the pilots that have been scaled up, almost half have been rolled out into multiple markets.

To find out more about the Unilever Foundry and to download the State of Innovation white paper

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