Finland is going through a period of unprecedented structural change. Our leading traditional companies are undergoing a transformation to ensure their place in the front line of competitive global markets. At the same time, the emergence of start-up companies and growth entrepreneurs is shaking up our culture of innovation. How could these companies join forces to utilise the strengths of both parties for mutual benefit?
There are many successful examples around the world of collaboration between companies in innovation and business operations. Fortunately, also Finnish companies are already on the move. The Confederation of Finnish Industries and Tekes have published a manual entitled ‘Different – the experiences of Finnish large companies with startups’. It focuses on the start-up operations of six Finnish companies:
- Start-ups are at the heart of Konecranes’ strategy, and a member of the executive group is in charge of each start-up. An internal start-up accelerator helps the company to change its culture, and it also functions as a point of contact for external partners.
- Fonecta put aside its old business operations and created a new company through dozens of start-up company acquisitions. Outsourcing product development has saved the company both time and money.
- With the appointment of a new general manager, startups are paid special attention in the S Group’s strategy. Among other things, S Group is using an external accelerator programme to find partners.
- The environmental maintenance company SITA proves that start-up collaboration is possible even in a traditional, regulated line of business. Its start-up partner ZenRobotics is focused on globalisation through SITA’s parent company, Suez Environnement.
- TV channel Nelonen has outsourced the product development of its online television operations to start-up companies. They brought with them extremely agile processes that old-school IT developers would deem pure anarchy.
- Start-up investments and partnerships offer Fortum an excellent view of how the business is developing, while also helping the company to modernise its operations. Fortum is looking for partners from outside its field of operations, particularly from the customer interface.
The case studies discussed in the publication are examples of various types of start-up partnerships, from company acquisitions to investments operations to strategic product development.
The publication includes tips for companies that are in the process of starting collaboration. If a large company wishes to achieve real results, it should add start-up companies to the executive group’s agenda and also include them in the company’s strategy. Good results have been achieved when a large company has appointed a person in charge of start-up projects, who also acts as an easy point of contact for outsiders. However, it is important to provide this person with enough resources to make sure that the projects are not overshadowed by the company’s other priorities.
The publication also encourages start-up companies to meet with groups of companies. A top-notch elevator pitch is not enough – successful preparation requires close familiarity with the potential partner’s strategy.
The publication was edited by serial entrepreneur Sami Kuusela and his Hoodie Dude team. Background support was provided by key persons from Slush and Industry Investment.
Further information from The Confederation of Finnish Industries, EK:
Outi Ervasti, tel. +358 41 721 2131 outi.ervasti (at) ek.fi, @outiervasti
Tuuli Mäkelä, tel + 358 50 330 3245, tuuli.makela (at) ek.fi, @tuulimakela
Further information from Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation
Ilona Lundström, tel. +358 29 50 55678 ilona.lundstrom (at) tekes.fi, @ilonalu