The New Face of Startup/Corporate Innovation

Our research shows, quite clearly, that corporations have begun to think and act like startups. Sounds like an oxymoron, except it’s true. Rather quietly, many companies have built innovation teams that focus on:

  • Developing proactive collaborations with the startup community – with a focus on flexible, informal, and agile partnerships.

  • Building “moonshots” market/product bets, as if they were an independent startup hatchery – but within the corporation.

The best of these corporate teams have learned how to operate like great entrepreneurs, while also selectively taking advantage of large pools of corporate resources and functional levers (global marketing, manufacturing, customer service / support, etc.).

We believe this trend represents a phase shift in the innovation economy globally. It builds on top of the ‘enabling’ existing business infrastructure that’s come online over the past 1-2 decades, including the VC and CVC community, external incubators and accelerator programs, and the deepening bench of entrepreneurial talent globally. And it is a direct corporate response to the success of this ecosystem – which increasingly threatens their survival.

The quantitative and qualitative research we’ve conducted – to be unveiled on July 20th – takes a deep look at this trend, and charts what it means for both corporations and startups. Among the takeaways we’ll explore:

  • Startup/corporate interactions are moving earlier-stage than ever before.

  • The innovation department increasingly mediates startup interactions from the corporate side.

  • For both sides, strategic fit is far more important than any other goal or metric.

Don’t miss it! Register for our webinar presenting the key findings.


Chris Townsend is the CMO of Imaginatik (@imaginatik), a consulting company. Chris has spent nearly a decade as one of the world's leading experts on innovation management, having developed deep domain expertise in both innovation consulting and innovation software. A former Forrester Research Analyst, Chris has spearheaded reports on the state of innovation at Imaginatik for the past several years.