Partnerships between start-ups and corporations will increasingly drive innovation

Start-ups and large organisations will form the ultimate partnership, working side by side in the same office, by 2025.

That’s according to The State of Innovation, a global study and whitepaper from Unilever Foundry, which looks at how the relationship between corporates and start-ups will evolve over the next decade.

Corporations recognise that in order to meet changing consumer needs, they need to look for the right partners to innovate and build relationships with.

“Collaboration can no longer be viewed as an optional extra, it’s a strategic imperative,” argued Aline Santos, Unilever’s EVP for Global Marketing. “Start-ups are now widely recognised as invaluable sources of innovation, fuelling growth and providing pioneering business solutions.”

Unilever Foundry predicts that physical shared working spaces will become commonplace. Nine out of ten corporates that already work with a start-up expect to continue doing so, and 46% of start-ups that have not yet worked with corporates say they are likely to do so in the future.

The top three reasons for working together were: learning something new (startups 88%/corporates 85%), improving efficiency (start-ups 81%/corporates 81%), and solving business problems in new ways that can scale (startups 89%/corporates 80%).

Four out of five corporates believe that start-ups can have a positive impact on a large company’s approach to innovation. As a result of this, Unilever Foundry believes that after a short-term boom in ‘tech tourism’, corporates will become more willing to invest in longer term, structured programmes and meaningful partnerships.

Start-up and corporate collaboration is predicted to evolve from an optional extra to a business-critical investment within the next five years.

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