On 14th September 2017, Unilever released the results from its latest whitepaper, which “predicts corporates and startups will form the ultimate partnership, working side by side in the same physical space by 2025, seeking greater proximity for innovation as they evolve to meet changing consumer needs”, the company announced in a recent press release.
State of Innovation
The ‘State of Innovation’ was launched at Dmexco by Unilever’s EVP of Global Marketing, Aline Santos. The report was designed to understand the relationship between corporate organisations and startups, and how this is set to evolve.
It identified that 80% of corporates believe startups can have a positive impact on a large company’s approach to innovation. Supporting the idea that collaboration is strongly predicted, 46% of startups who have not worked with corporates are likely to do so in the future. Positively, 89% startups also believe they are able to deliver business solutions which can scale, to drive innovative developments.
“Collaboration can no longer be viewed as an optional extra, it’s a strategic imperative. Startups are now widely recognised as invaluable sources of innovation, fueling growth and providing pioneering business solutions,” observed Aline Santos, EVP for Global Marketing, Unilever.
“The State of Innovation report reveals the appetite for collaboration between corporates and startups and signals a shift in the models adopted for future partnerships," Santos added.
Idea and space-sharing
As 90% of corporate firms work with a startup and plan to continue this relationship, Unilever Foundry anticipates that physical shared working spaces will become a hallmark of these partnerships to aid growth and encourage collaboration activities.
The research identifies that the three most important reasons for working together are:
- Learning something new (startups 88%/corporates 85%)
- Improving efficiency (startups 81%/corporates 81%)
- Solving business problems in new ways that can scale (startups 89%/corporates 80%).
Startups and corporate, alike, are trying to navigate their way through new approaches. As a result, exploration activities such as visiting tech HQs and short-term PR campaigns are notable, and are examples of ‘tech tourism’.
Corporates are looking for “less formal partnerships and shorter-term goals”. With publicity of key importance for 83% of startups, other valued partnership outcomes may also need to be considered.
Of those asked, 80% of corporate organisations perceive startups to have a beneficial influence on a large company’s approach to innovation. Investment in structured programmes may, therefore, become a popular option. Unilever Foundry emphasised the importance of “meaningful partnerships over publicity-driving quick fixes”, which as a result, will lower tech tourism.
Over the next five years, Unilever Foundry believes that the collaborative relationship between startups and corporate companies will evolve as a critical need to reflect business innovation. Unsurprisingly, therefore, four out of five corporates (79%) and startups (78%) anticipate more collaborative work in the future. Startup confidence in their performance and delivery capabilities is high too, with 89% asserting that they can deliver scalable business products and services.