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Industry leaders to join forces with startups to boost innovation in the Netherlands

30 May 2017

Dutch industry leaders are putting forward recommendations and actions to bring about a lasting improvement in the cooperation between corporates and startups. The aim is to speed up the rate of innovation in the Netherlands. One of the actions is to make knowledge and a tool available to entrepreneurs – big and small – that want to innovate more rapidly and successfully partner with startups for that purpose. In addition, 19 Dutch corporates have committed themselves to jointly enter into more than 300 partnerships with startups in the year ahead.

These are a couple of the results of a year of collaboration and sharing knowledge and experience in the context of COSTA. COSTA, which stands for ‘collaboration between COrporates & STArtups’, was launched a year ago under the umbrella of StartupDelta with KPN CFO Jan Kees de Jager in the role of ambassador. Alongside KPN, companies of the stature of AkzoNobel, DSM, Eneco, ING, KLM, NS, Philips, Port of Rotterdam, Rabobank, Shell, Thales Nederland BV, Unilever, ANWB and ASML were at high level involved in this initiative.

“The companies involved in COSTA are all prominent, innovative Dutch corporates,” says Jan Kees de Jager, ambassador of COSTA. “They all share a common guiding principle: by working with startups you can innovate faster and translate it more quickly into relevant products and services. That innovative power forms the basis for economic growth and is important for future job opportunities and welfare in the Netherlands. We invite all Dutch companies to use the knowledge and skills within COSTA to innovate further and help the Netherlands move forward.”

COSTA answers questions such as: How can governance help stimulate innovation with startups? How can you facilitate contact between corporate and startup? And how can a corporate offer startups more opportunities to become a supplier?

Corporate Startup Readiness Tool

One of the deliverables of Costa is a Corporate Startup Readiness Tool, which was developed by Erasmus Center of Entrepreneurship and Corporate Venturing Network. The tool is an online scan with which companies can quickly and easily assess how ready they are to enter into a successful partnership with startups. The tool contains best practices and shows what a company can do if it emerges from the scan that certain conditions for a successful partnership with startups are not or not yet present. For example, it might be necessary to communicate a clear focus on the particular area in which the company is looking for innovation and a partnership with startups.

The Corporate Startup Readiness Tool is free of charge and can be completed online on https://readytoteamup.com.

Connection with startups

When startups want to collaborate with corporates it is often hard for them to find the right way in. A single point of contact or address for startups is a possible solution and all the COSTA members have undertaken to set this up in their organization. A complete list of dedicated point of contacts can be found on www.vno-ncw.nl and www.mkb.nl.

Launching customership

Innovation can accelerate when startups and corporates work together. By jointly developing a new product or service, for example, or becoming a launching customer of the startup, or facilitating the distribution of the startup’s products or services. In this context, the 15 COSTA members and four other companies (PortXL, Vopak, IBM Nederland and TNO) have committed themselves to jointly enter into more than 300 partnerships with startups within one year from May 30, 2017.

COSTA partners and follow up

VNO-NCW, MKB Nederland and Corporate Venturing Network will carry on with the COSTA initiative as from today. Based on the COSTA results they are jointly going to push for strengthening innovation and the Dutch ecosystem for startups. Everything with the ultimate goals of making Dutch businesses stronger, more innovative and more flexible.

Leendert-Jan Visser, Director of Association Affairs VNO NCW and MKB Nederland: “The cooperation between large companies and start-ups is important for the innovation power of the Netherlands. We are committed to further strengthening this power and broadening it to SMEs."

The COSTA results have been achieved with help from Corporate Venturing Network, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus Center of Entrepreneurship, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, VNO-NCW, MKB-Nederland, and Gemeente Eindhoven & Brainport Eindhoven. The findings will be presented today in Eindhoven in the presence of the parties involved and the Special Envoy of StartupDelta, Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands.