14 Apr

Corporations and Startups collaboration

This short report contains essential information about startup projects and how some startups work in cohesion with established companies. Following examples have been taken from real time environment, in particular all of them are examples from European Union. First and foremost is good to define what truly Startup is, and for that purpose will be stated definition from the book The Lean Startup, written by E. Ries:

“A startup is a human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”

So, from the very definition that is stated, it can be seen that in first plan isn’t the size or the structure of the company, politics or either economy. What is in focus and primary goal in case of Startups is generating new business model, new processes which are creating new product.

Partnership between already established company and startup is especially interesting because in that scenario both actors meet their needs. For an instance, just because of their position startups are able to think outside of the box and come with some fresh ideas, so for they can thing bigger in terms on innovating, while paying little attention to the resources or customer’s approach. In that scenario, established companies covers all the existing resources needed and customer strategy which is needed to implement and deliver innovation. Figure below, shows the process of cooperation.

Deutsche Telekom & FON Network

First example refers to FON Network. To be more precise it’s partnership with the Deutsche Telekom in Germany. Initial idea of the company (Fon) is to provide a Wireless internet to user wherever the user wants. Person would become a user, customer as soon as it receives a router. Wireless internet is obtained through that specific router. The router itself is also connected to Wi-Fi which is part of Fon’s hotspots so it’s referring to dual access WLAN.

Speaking of the spreading it’s business model, collaboration with well-established ISP companies was inevitable so, in the very beginnings, the company has made partnership with British Telekom and SFR.

After successful cooperation with English ISP’s FON company has spread it’s model on other countries such as Germany. Naturally, the biggest interest in cooperation had the biggest ISP in the country, the Deutsche Telekom. The service is made on concept that either DT subscriber, and larger community can benefit of it. As it was stated earlier in introduction, established company takes care of customers and business logic, so from that stand of point DT has taken this part of job. Statement from the official FON Network’s web-page says following, regarding the concept of the service:

Once installed and activated, subscribers will be able to share the unused capacity of their internet connection with other users in a very secure way. By doing this, they get free access to our 8 million Fon hotspots all around the world, in addition to the seven thousand existing public Telekom hotspots in Germany.

It is indeed great solution, because of it’s potential, and benefit is that whether user is going abroad, it can connect to any FON wireless network. User is no longer forced to buy new GSM number, and throughout access the Internet.


Rabobank as the name says for itself is bank settled in Netherlands. The organization’s primary focus is on agriculture and food. By that, it means that bank is forcing to embrace interested sides in producing the food with less natural resources. Primary, bank helps in with providing knowledge, finances and networks to it’s clients. Basically, company is driven on classic approach on that economy should stimulate new working places simultaneously creating new employment. That’s why the group appreciate the impact of the Startups. In addition to that bank is initiator of the first Dutch Hackathon called FinTech:

FinTech is the collective term for technology-driven innovation in the financial sector that is on the rise. Research reveals that global investment in FinTech has trebled within the space of just one year: from 4 billion dollars in 2013 to 12 billion dollars in 2014.

Also, bank organizes Moonshot innovation programme in which Rabobank employees can present their Startup innovative solutions, some winning examples from 2016 are:

  • Bank Contact Cloud: An app that simplifies payments. Contacts in your mobile phone are automatically linked to their IBAN so you can transfer funds without entering an IBAN.
  • EasyTrade – solution for securing payables and receivables for foreign currencies based on customer’s hedge policy (Risk management). User’s data is secure on the site, no need for using PC, backups are managed by site, it is platform independent. More information about Startup can be read on it’s web-page.
  • GeoFarm – Big data platform for farmers. Rabobank’s solution for smart farming. Concept is based on values captured from devices which are used in IoT.
  • Fetch – solution for implementing business of the Dutch companies in e-commerce in Africa.


Bayer is making big impact when it comes to encouraging startups. Their philosophy of collaboration and benefits of collaboration whether is among patients or business partners. For that purposes, Bayer, has created hub called CoLaborator. There are two startup incubators: in San Francisco and Berlin. It’s goal is to provide and encourage startups to develop their concepts. Therefore, they are providing resources for startups, eg. communal spaces, laboratories for researching purposes etc.

One of the successful startups which collaborates with Bayer is DexLeChem. It is Startup which is part of CoLaborator in Berlin. The company is able to produce active chemical substances in water and other sustainable solvents. These novel, patented synthesis routes are more cost-effective than procedures in toxic organic solvents, since DexLeChem can keep the required and expensive noble-metal catalysts active and re-use them, even in water.

So as it was stated earlier, established company will provide support to startup because it needs it’s ideas, and as the Startup is concerned it needs resources. For an instance, DexLeChem’s managing Director Sonja Jost stated that some of their managing Director Sonja Jost stated that some of analysis systems which they needed for their work costs around half million euros. That amount isn’t really acceptable for Startups. So when it comes to resources, Bayer provides in terms of networking: communication with other related local startup communities by organizing conferences, events etc., communication with scientific institutions, communication with Bayer experts. For the startup, Bayer through it’s incubator provides following:

  • 800 square meters of lab, office, and communal space
  • nine distinct units of 40 sqm lab + 20 sqm office
  • furnished labs and offices customizable to your individual needs
  • confidentiality agreements between you and Bayer as needed


Text by Hrvoje Nemčanin