Insights from our Corporate Innovation Event 2023

Insights from our Corporate Innovation Event 2023

3 mins to read

Molten News
Molten News
2023 UK Event

In November, we hosted the second annual Corporate Innovation event. The discussion, under Chatham House rules, offered a deep dive into the intricate dance between startups and corporates and provided a candid exploration of the challenges and strategies inherent in these collaborations.

We held two panels: the first explored the nuts & bolts of driving true collaboration in corporate-startup relationships; the second was a case study on how founders, Corporate Venture Capital (CVC) and traditional VC collaborate.

Afterwards, the startup leaders and corporate leaders participated in a speed-networking activity, resulting in many powerful introductions and conversations.

For those who missed it, the key takeaways of the panel discussions are below.

The Landscape of Corporate Innovation

1. Leadership and Perseverance: The panel opened by recognising the difference between resilient leaders and those deterred by minor challenges. In other words, the importance of grit in the face of adversity.

2. Innovation Through Adversity: The journey of innovation, particularly in difficult economic times, was highlighted as a crucible for honing fundamental business practices. Startups and corporates alike were encouraged to focus on addressing real problems and creating tangible value, especially during challenging periods.

Strategic Partnerships Between Startups and Corporates

1. The Significance of CVC Relationships: Ultimately, corporate/startup relationships were lauded as a valuable option for both parties. The mutual benefits of these partnerships, including investment, mentorship, and market access, were agreed as key drivers for growth.

2. Challenges in Pace and Decision Making Process: Startups expressed some of their well-documented frustration with the slow pace of decision-making and project initiation in large corporates. This discrepancy in speed often leads to prolonged negotiations and delayed project launches, impacting the agility and momentum of startups.

3. Navigating Corporate Politics and Processes: For startups, understanding and navigating the complex internal politics and processes of large corporations pose a significant challenge, which often results in elongated deal-making processes and the need for strategic navigation within the corporate structure. 4. Commercial Insight and Adaptability: Corporates, on the other hand, sometimes struggle with a lack of commercial insight in the technologies or opportunities that can be delivered by early-stage startups, especially those emerging from academic settings. The need for corporates to adapt their processes to be more startup-friendly was emphasised, alongside the need for startups to develop stronger commercial acumen.

Insights on Effective Collaboration

1. Finding a Corporate Champion: A recurring suggestion for startups was to identify and collaborate with a champion within the relevant corporate. This approach can streamline the process, align strategic interests, and facilitate smoother integration into the corporate ecosystem.

2. Mutual Understanding and Adaptation: Both startups and corporates were advised to foster a mutual understanding of each other’s cultures and operational dynamics. This understanding was agreed to be crucial for successful collaboration, bridging the gap between the agile, risk-taking nature of startups and the structured, risk-averse environment of large corporations.

3. The Role of Procurement and Contract Negotiations: The procurement process and contract negotiation processes operated by corporates emerged as a critical area of focus and frustration. Streamlining these processes and making them more adaptable to the unique needs and timelines of startups can significantly enhance the efficiency of corporate-startup collaborations.

Conclusion: Bridging Innovation Gaps

The insights from the panels underscore the need for a balanced approach to corporate innovation. The interplay between startups and corporates, though not without its challenges, offers great potential for groundbreaking innovation and market growth. By addressing key issues like speed, communication, procurement, and mutual understanding, both parties can effectively bridge the innovation gap and foster a more dynamic and productive business environment.