Industry-Startup Co-innovation partnerships : What do you think ?

For the past 3-4 months, I and a couple of my colleagues at the HeadStart Foundation have been involved in creating a framework for formal collaboration between corporates and startups for jointly identifying, pursuing and executing business. The HeadStart Foundation is launching that initiative on the 9th at the HeadStart and Compute 2009 event in Bangalore and we have got 5 companies confirming as launch partners (names to disclose on 9th) and 20 more (evenly split between companies in India and abroad) in discussions.

This collaboration initiative takes the form of both online and offline interaction. The online bit is a simple process – corporates identify areas of interest and issue RFIs, startups and SMEs submit proposals that a team from HeadStart initially filter and then route to designated individuals in partner companies. There is also a process for regular offline interaction and doing reviews of the programme from time to time.

Since this is a new initiative, your views would be appreciated

1. Do you think that such initiatives will help innovation and business ?

2. What do you think are important things to make such an initiative a success ?

3. Where would VCs fit in to all this ? How should we engage investors ?

See you on 9th and 10th for those of you who can make it to Bangalore. Even otherwise, the Startup Saturdays are always there. And the online collaboration platform is an open one, so it will be available from the 9th for startups to join.

14 Responses to “Industry-Startup Co-innovation partnerships : What do you think ?”

  1. Vijay says:

    So, how do investors fit into all this? Or is that something thats getting figured out? But yep, as someone pointed out, if investors can put in money into high potential startups, that’d be awesome as the exit as well would become more definite.

    Now we just need to define a high potential startup. 🙂

    But yep, good work. I think while at one side there are efforts to bridge institutions and the markets, academia is a good field to get into. Need loads of support there for sure.

    Good going Kallol.

  2. Sanjay says:


    This sounds very promising but the devil is in the details. If the large company provides bootstrap resources, an anchor customer and a potential exit for entrepreneurs it could be a win win.

    The experience in the US where companies like CISCO regularly buy startups is to not get involved in incubation. Others like Intel have corporate VC arms.

    In the Indian context since the environment is different this approach may work. I would be interested in learning more and watching to see if this works.

  3. Rahul says:

    Interesting. A review panel of 33 members is remarkable. Where are the RFPs ?

    what’s the driver for a non-profit approach to this model ? my sentiments on doing good are echoed here –

    would headstart associated investors in this model also work in seeding high potential startups with Experienced folks for those crucial quarters when a startup is expected to run on it’s own steam to prototype a working solution before the first formal investment round ?

  4. Sum says:

    Identifying the stakeholders is a huge concern. Historically, corporates as stakeholders in any kind of innovation done by a startup especially in India is almost an unknown. Simply because there is only a market for low cost services and low cost products. There is an interest for getting a clone of something else real cheap. Having interacted with many Indian retail houses – innovation is simply not where they put their money in. They are incapable of committing in terms of resources and more so in terms of initiative. They would be delighted if the startup can provide knowledge and ideas continually for free.

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