Front page of the CSC report from 2019

Corporate-Startup Collaboration Report

Collaborating with startups pays off - in the end.
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Key findings from the report

  • Most Nordic corporates are looking into investing in startups: 42 pct. of the Nordic corporates have their own venture capital arm
  • The Nordic corporates’ engagement with startups is often centered around co-development: The vast majority of the Nordic corporates (91 pct.) engage in ‘Pilot and Partnerships’ with the startups meaning that the collaboration is often centered around co-development and/or procurement of solutions.
  • How Nordic corporates connect with startups: 52 pct. Use competitions and events such as hackathons and/or entrepreneurship events, while 30 pct. set up a corporate accelerator program.
  • The challenges that Nordic corporates face: Investing resources and time in risky projects that may fail is seen as something that should be avoided. 45 pct. point out that this is an obstacle to their engagement with startups. Another main issue that corporates face is bureaucratic obstacles (58 pct.)
  • Collaborating with startups pays off - in the end: The study shows that 87 pct. agree that the benefits of collaborating with startups are greater than the costs. In fact, the majority of the corporates have plans to increase their collaboration with startups in the future.

Who benefits from corporate-startup collaboration and how?

As with any business relationship, collaborations between startups and corporates hold risks and benefits for both sides. Corporates have the market access, resources, power, and credibility that startups admire, whereas startups have the agility, innovative and in many cases disruptive mindsets, business models, and technologies that corporations cannot ignore, especially if they want to remain competitive in the rapidly changing business landscape.

However, structural, organizational, and cultural differences remain, which can make such collaborations difficult. Thus, a better understanding of corporate-startup collaborations can help both groups to maximize potential benefits while minimizing risks.


The report is based on: a survey with 45 C-level and/or top-level management of the largest Nordic corporations (Denmark’s C25, Finland’s OMXH25, Iceland’s OMXI8, Norway’s OBX25 and Sweden’s OMX30), one qualitative interview with a key stakeholder in the Nordic innovation system and four qualitative interviews with selected key C-level and/or top-level representatives of large Nordic corporations were conducted.


Portrait Mikael von Dorrien

Mikael von Dorrien

Senior Innovation Adviser
Mikael has long experience working within the field of hightech startups. With a background from Swedish Almi Invest, he has in depth knowledge of the startup investor market. Since 2014 Mikael has worked at Nordic Innovation with entrepreneurship, Nordic Innovation Houses and now the Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity program.

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