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The Road to FEI24: Corporate Innovation: Internal & External Best Practice

You’re speaking at FEI 2024. You’re also a big part of our startup competition on net zero emissions. We’ll get to that. But you’ve been kind enough to put together a session about the partnerships that corporates and startups really must forge.

“There’s a lot of different ways that corporations and startups are partnering,” says Hart. “A lot of corporations have CVCs, which are corporate venture capital arms, and so they have various company investment strategies around the types of companies, whether they’re investing in their core technology space or they’re interested in looking a little bit further into the future. That’s one space where corporations are working with startups. Sometimes a lot of companies have innovation teams or even the business units are scouting startups for potential acquisitions or running proof of concepts or pilots with them. They could have a tech scouting team. It could be an innovation team.”

She continues, “There are also some companies where they’ll engage in startup accelerators, and there are a couple different things they are trying to get in front of, such as deal flow for their investments, scouting, bringing them in internally. Then, honestly, sometimes it’s just around culture fit. They’re trying to absorb some of that startup, their innovation, best practices, methodologies, just energy into the organization. I’ve seen companies run accelerators based on that.”

You are in a unique position to give us some best practices no matter which one of those categories the partnership falls into.

“I’d say the big things to look out for is from both the startup side and the corporation side is really the matching,” she says. “It can take a long time to logistically, legally, procurement wise and so on, to form relationships. Be super transparent upfront as a corporation on what your process is. I’ve talked to people at corporations that say they just can’t work with startups. Or there is an issue with the procurement process, for example, where the startup will potentially be out of business or their business model has changed in eight months. Then there’s corporations that are known for being really start-up friendly, and they have specific vendor contracts, specific processes, to quickly onboard start-ups. Tip number one is just being really upfront about those things in the beginning and having those conversations.”

You’re also on the net zero emission startup competition committee. We’re giving away $25,000 to the net zero emission startup seed stage that can really help us corporates meet those net zero emissions mandates. Is there anything specific you want to mention on that?

Hart adds, “We’re specifically looking for startups that have kind of a horizontal touch. They might not be industry specific, but they can help maybe in the finance, manufacturing, logistics and supply chain. We’re excited about that horizontal. It’s a hot topic right now, and there’s both digital solutions and physical solutions. There are platforms. There’s just a million ways that we can see startups coming in, so we’re really excited.”

Attend FEI 2024

Looking forward to FEI 2024? The conference, which will be held June 10 to 12, will feature the session, “Corporate Innovation: Internal & External Best Practice,” presented by Carley Hart, Director of Corporate Partnerships, Runway Startups, Cornell Tech. One of the reasons that good corporate startup partnerships succeed is due to a clear division of responsibilities based on what each party brings to the table. Corporates traditionally don’t move quickly due to refined and efficient processes. Startups, by definition, need to focus on finding scale. Dive into successful corporate innovation through corporate start-up partnerships. Register for FEI 2024 here.

More Innovation Resources

Creating the Right Innovation Partnership

Corporations often face many challenges when it comes to developing innovation in a fast, evolving market. They can face barriers such as inertia, the silo mentality, a large bureaucracy, and even risk aversion can permeate the company culture. That’s where partnerships with startups can come into play, as these firms tend to be smaller and more flexible, creative, agile and disruptive. The partnership between an established corporation and startup can benefit both parties, as they leverage shared resources and a singular vision, whether it be rolling out an innovation or expanding into new markets.

Balancing the Innovation Partnership

Startup and corporate partnerships are a delicate balancing act but one that can maximize innovation success for both partners. Certainly, there are challenges and opportunities from both perspectives. For the startup, there may be initial struggles, such as raising investment funds, hiring key employees, gaining customers and expanding into new markets. For more established, large corporations, many face intensified market competition, are slow to act, and there could often be internal barriers to fostering an innovative culture. Yet, it can be a win-win formula between the startup and the corporation, as they pool their experiences and connections, and which can bring success to both parties.


  • Seth Adler

    Seth Adler heads up All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has spent his career bringing people together around content. He has a dynamic background producing events, podcasts, video, and the written word.

  • Matt Kramer

    Matthew Kramer is the Digital Editor for All Things Insights & All Things Innovation. He has over 20 years of experience working in publishing and media companies, on a variety of business-to-business publications, websites and trade shows.


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