Why Corp-Up? Why you should engage in startup-corporate collaborations

Our research 11. January 2023.

In today’s increasingly dynamic business world characterized by constant changes in social, economic, political, and technological spheres, organizations need to work toward building relevance and innovation in order to stay competitive.

Innovation, in fact, is essential to every company striving to achieve sustainable growth and to create long-term shareholder and stakeholder value. And one of the crucial drivers of innovation is represented by startup-corporate collaboration. If you need innovation, you need Corp-Up – it’s that simple.

What does Corp-Up mean? Corp-Up refers to any commercial relationship focused on creating business impact by combining the assets of a corporate and a startup. We use the term “corporate” as a synonym for any large company and “assets” as a synonym for the “haves” of a large company, e.g. their customer base, revenues, channels, brand, know-how, or the like. We use “startup” as a synonym for a smaller company and “assets” as a synonym for the “haves” of a smaller company, e.g. new products, services, mindsets, agile processes/internal governance & steering, or the like. We intentionally interpret these terms broadly to account for the wide range of Corp-Up collaborations.

Corp-Up can in fact take many forms, but regardless of the specific relationship, the objective of any Corp-Up is always to create 1 + 1 = 3 situations – which can be a challenge, as these collaborations by their nature involve getting something more out of what you have, and therefore require much more than simply “summing up.”

One of the key challenges of Corp-Up comes from the inherently different nature of startups and corporates. While a corporate in general comes from a defensive starting position (defend revenues, customers, market positioning, etc.), a startup in general comes from an attack starting position (“the sky is the limit”). With such imbalanced starting positions, the inherent risk appetite in everything the two parties do is (and has to be) fundamentally different. This asymmetry often leads to startups seeing corporates as difficult to deal with due to their sluggishness or rigid rules; conversely, corporates are challenged by startups’ speed as well as by their inexperience or impatience.

The recent global developments and economic circumstances made collaboration more crucial for all sides: Agility and flexibility have become more important for corporates, and proven market traction/alternative sources of funding have become more important for startups, so now more than ever, it is important for the two to work together. Consequently, the startup-corporate collaboration ecosystem is now more developed and mature than ever. However, to reap the benefits of Corp-Up and bring collaborations to the next level, both corporates and startups need to devote the necessary effort and time.

Want to know how to harness this value?

Crucial insights and best practices on how to master Corp-Up await you in the Age of Collaboration III report.

Download the report now!

Stay updated. Subscribe to the MMV newsletter