According to a survey of people working in startups and big companies, the increase in shared physical working spaces will become commonplace to enable growth and break down barriers to collaboration.
Unilever Foundry, the FMCG giant's collaboration platform for startups and innovators, predicts corporates and startups will work side by side in the same physical space by 2025, seeking greater proximity for innovation as they evolve to meet changing consumer needs.
The three most important reasons for working together are learning something new, improving efficiency, and solving business problems in new ways that can scale, The State of Innovation Report said.
However, while 80% of corporates believe that startups can have a positive impact on a large company’s approach to innovation, less than half (46%) of startups that have not worked with corporates are likely to do so in the future. Nevertheless, the vast majority (89%) of startups believe they are able to deliver business solutions that can be scaled.
Unilever Foundry’s research also indicates there will be a short-term boom in "tech tourism" as corporates get increasingly savvy about working with startups. In the long term, Unilever Foundry predicts that large businesses will become more willing to invest in structured programmes as companies choose meaningful partnerships over PR-driven quick fixes.
The report quoted one startup that described its experience with tech tourism models as: "At the low end of the spectrum is tech tourism: a brand shows up in Silicon Valley, rides the Google slide, meets a couple of startups – at best it's inspirational but basically it's a waste of time. […] Startups want meaningful new initiatives and uses of technology."
Aline Santos, Unilever’s executive vice-president of global marketing, said: "Collaboration can no longer be viewed as an optional extra, it’s a strategic imperative. Startups are now widely recognised as invaluable sources of innovation, fueling growth and providing pioneering business solutions.
"The State of Innovation report reveals the appetite for collaboration between corporates and startups and signals a shift in the models adopted for future partnerships. As the Unilever Foundry continues its journey looking for exciting new partnerships, we are continually learning to ensure our future collaborations are effective as possible."
Unilever Foundry launched in 2014 as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs seeking mentoring, projects to pitch for, and investment.
The research involved a survey of 200 brand managers and heads of innovation and over 100 startup founders and directors across the UK, US, India and Singapore.