How Corporate Partnerships With Startups Foster Technology Innovation

The technology innovation landscape of the 21st century is constantly changing. The shelf life of technology has reduced from decades to sometimes as low as a year. Large corporations are

working towards responding to the changing innovation ecosystem due to new technology.

However, responding to constantly changing trends gets difficult. The processes of large corporations are about delivering quantity rather than driving innovation. Hence, with the fast pace of the market, more prominent companies need help rapidly adopting new technologies, resulting in outdated products and services.

This is where corporate partnerships come into play. The best way to keep pace with rapid technology changes is to borrow, co-create or form collaborative corporate alliances. Corporations can fully adopt and utilise technologies in the market by doing business with young and agile startups.

Corporate Partnerships Offer Economic Solutions

Most corporates have in-house Research and Development (R&D) teams but have space limitations. An R&D team forms a small percentage of the company’s employee base. But given the agility, they need to be responsive to the marketplace. Acquiring the core skill sets required and training the rest of the team in-house costs time and money.

Startups, however, are agile and can help corporations be responsive to the market, which is critical. They often have niche technology skills in-house. Hence, the R&D time is cut short.

The collaboration helps them launch the new technology quickly, thus staying relevant in a competitive scenario. Going to market first benefits the corporation, giving it that first-mover advantage in an innovation ecosystem filled with competition. The startup helps add agility and saves time and cost for the corporation. A corporate collaboration makes better economic sense overall.

Corporate Partnerships Offer a Win-Win Situation

The startups, in return, get the proof of concept (PoC) of their technology innovation validated by large buyers stepping in. They get access to the corporate customer base and develop a revenue stream. It is critical for a young startup as they often must build their customer base from scratch. The startups in the innovation ecosystem get to market-validate their technology with real-time use cases and verify how customers respond.

Partnerships create opportunities for corporate leadership to mentor startups and give them the guidance required to succeed in a competitive market. A large corporation may have distribution access and vendors who can supply the components at much cheaper rates. They may also have a global market presence and be willing to invest and scale up the startup if the product is viable.

For example, a large petroleum corporation with distribution outlets nationwide collaborated with a few startups at T-Hub. These startups gained access to the corporation’s distribution network in the process.

Within two months of the corporate partnership, the startups could access these retail locations nationwide. A startup on its own will need help to scale at such a pace. A corporate partnership helps them get a robust retail support network from a large corporation.

Such collaborations also have a positive impact on the underlying technology developed.

Fostering Technology Innovation and Validation

Startups often need data and real-life use cases to run and test their technology models and solutions. They need real-life situations to implement and check the efficacy of these technologies. Only a few corporates are willing to provide their real-time data to run a test for a startup unless there is a collaboration. However, accessing these corporate databases helps startups improve and validate their underlying technology innovation.

For example, a startup is working in the fintech space. In that case, it becomes challenging to access a bank’s databases. This includes millions of transactions due to regulatory, security, and privacy concerns. If the bank enters a collaborative partnership with the startup, it stands to gain by adopting the startup’s new technology and improving its services. The startups gain when they validate the efficacy of the technology. It helps them improve the technology, benefiting the banks and the customers. The relationship is symbiotic.

Corporations may need to be more agile, but they bring value through their thought leaders. The C-level executives know where the market is headed and how to leverage the best technology. It enables the startup to cut short time to get the right product-market fit. Corporate aid startups’ guidance invariably has a positive impact on the overall economy.

Building a Relationship of Equals at T-Hub

A collaborative relationship between a startup and a corporation is not of a vendor or a service provider. It is one where both parties involved must co-create. Corporations also gain an understanding of how startups think and their approach to problem-solving. Working together helps the corporates realise the startup’s strength and the areas where they require support.

T-Hub, the world’s leading startup incubator, spearheads corporate innovation in India, acting as a catalyst and enabler. So far, we have carried out nearly 70 corporate innovation programs involving leading industry players, such as Maruti Suzuki, Renault Nissan, Boeing, Meta, Boeing Raytheon technologies, and others. It is the most significant number of corporate innovation programs in the country.

These programs have been instrumental in building a solid partnership between the startup and the corporate ecosystems. Apart from support and guidance from corporates, T-Hub startups have gained access to corporate grants over the last year, up to INR five crores. Corporations increasingly view these partnerships as responsible for nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

At T-Hub, as a business incubator, sets the expectations right on both sides. We help both parties achieve clear-cut outcomes and deliverables out of this relationship while protecting the interests of both. We help corporations save time and money while we help startups protect their intellectual property (IP) rights. Today, t-Hub plays a significant role in enabling a conducive environment for both parties to form their partnership. We play the role of a catalyst. Once the partnership matures, both parties work together. We aim to build partnerships that last a lifetime.