news and press hero
News & Press


The State of Startup/Corporate Collaboration 2016 Study Results Unveiled

imaginatik logo big

Corporate Executives Say Working with Startups is ‘Mission Critical’

BOSTON, July 20th, 2016 — Imaginatik, the world’s first full-service innovation firm, and MassChallenge, the most startup-friendly accelerator, have released the findings of The State of Startup/Corporate Collaboration 2016, a first-of-its-kind study. This research shows that corporates and startups are working together in fundamentally new ways – challenging the assumptions around how innovation happens in today’s economy.

The study was the first to interview both startups and corporations on their views about their interactions. 233 startups and 112 corporate respondents were surveyed from March 30th to April 24th, 2016. Corporate respondents were from Microsoft, Pfizer, KLM, Cisco, Xerox, and IBM, among many others leading companies.

Among other insights, the study uncovered five key learnings:

  • Interactions are moving towards early stage
. Corporations are increasingly moving towards early stage interactions with startups, with 67% of corporate respondents saying that they prefer working with startups at earlier stages, mainly “to explore new technologies and business models”.
  • Interactions with startups are becoming “Mission Critical”
. At an overwhelming 82%, corporations now view interactions with startups as “somewhat important” to “very important,” and 23% indicated that these interactions were “mission critical.”
  • Corporate innovation models are still in their infancy. 
Despite this shift in thinking, corporate innovation models are still in their infancy. For most of the corporations surveyed, current attempts to work with startups are more often than not underfunded, and scattershot – such that 25% of corporations responded that they did not know how much is spent on innovation per year.
  • Strategic fit is paramount, but underlying goals vary
. Both startups and corporations agree that “strategic fit” is by far the primary criterion for working together. 44% percent of corporate respondents cited strategic fit as the most important factor in success or failure of a given startup relationship. A slightly higher proportion of startups – 65% – saw corporations as potential strategic partners.
  • Mindset change – no longer “Us” vs. “Them”. 
A fundamental mindset shift has occurred. Startup/corporate relationships are more long-term and more nuanced. Acquisitions and investments are low on the priority list for both startups and corporates, while collaboration is high. A striking majority of startups – 99% – expressed at least some desire to work with corporates, with 67% saying that it’s “mission critical” to work together.

“More and more corporations are entering the brave new world of engaging with very young startups,” said MassChallenge President Mike LaRhette. “Over the course of the last few years, we at MassChallenge have seen corporates trend towards working with entrepreneurs earlier – including those still prototyping their products. Partnering with a large corporation can be as critical as investment to some of the these startups and so there is lots of enthusiasm on both sides of the table.”

Both leaders in corporate-startup innovation, MassChallenge has connected corporations with startups since it inception in 2009, and Imaginatik has has been working with corporates to innovate for over 20 years.

“Corporate executives see enormous potential to innovate by working with early stage ventures,” said Imaginatik Chief Marketing Officer Chris Townsend. “The exact approaches are evolving constantly, but the trend is clear: startup-corporate collaboration is becoming critical.”

For a complete copy of the report, please visit the download page.

About Imaginatik
Imaginatik is the world’s first full-service innovation firm. We are an advisory, software, and analytics provider devoted to making innovation a sustainable practice within the modern enterprise. We’ve been named a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, and Forrester Research has cited our Innovation Central software platform as a Leader in Innovation Management Solutions in both 2013 and 2016. Our client list includes Cargill, Chubb, Dow Chemical, Exelon, ExxonMobil, Goodyear, John Deere, Mayo Clinic, TD Bank, and The World Bank.

Imaginatik was founded in 1996, with dual headquarters in Boston, USA and Fareham, UK. We’ve spent 20 years helping the world’s largest and most respected companies innovate.

For media inquiries:

About MassChallenge
MassChallenge is the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet. No equity and not-for-profit, we are obsessed with helping entrepreneurs across all industries. We also reward the highest-impact startups through a competition to win a portion of several million dollars in equity-free cash awards. Through our global network of accelerators in Boston, the UK, Israel, Switzerland, and Mexico, and unrivaled access to our corporate partners, we can have a massive impact – driving growth and creating value the world over. To date, 835 MassChallenge alumni have raised over $1.4 billion, generated over $575 million in revenue, and created over 8,500 jobs. For more information, please visit

Top MassChallenge corporate partners include: Cisco, EMC, IBM, Fidelity, Microsoft, PTC, Nestlé, Pepsico, Pfizer, UPS, and Verizon.

For media inquiries:

Comments are closed.