Start-up partnerships with big firms to grow: Unilever

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Food and drink industry partnerships between startups and large firms will continue to grow says Unilever
Food and drink industry partnerships between startups and large firms will continue to grow says Unilever

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Food and drink industry partnerships between start-ups and large firms will continue to grow, according to a new report from Unilever.

The report – the State of innovation – looked at how the relationship between start-ups and corporates will continue to evolve, including businesses in the food and drink industry.

Unilever EVP global marketing boss Aline Santos said: “Collaboration can no longer be viewed as an optional extra, it’s a strategic imperative. Start-ups are now widely recognised as invaluable sources of innovation, fuelling growth and providing pioneering business solutions.

“The State of innovation report reveals the appetite for collaboration between corporates and start-ups and signals a shift in the models adopted for future partnerships.”

‘Appetite for collaboration’

Unilever identified three key predictions on how the industry would change over the next 10 years.

The first prediction was that start-ups and corporates will work side-by-side by 2025, with physical shared working spaces becoming commonplace to facilitate growth and break down barriers to collaboration.

Unilever’s research revealed the three most important reasons for working together. Learning something new was important to 88% of start-ups and 85% of corporates, while improving efficiency was singled out by 81% of start-ups and corporates. Solving business problems in new ways that can scale was important to 89% of start-ups and 80% of corporates.

The second prediction was that large businesses will be looking for long term partnerships with start-up tech companies, which would have a large impact on their approaches to innovation.

Business–critical investment

Unilever’s final prediction was that start-up and corporate collaboration will evolve from an optional extra to a business–critical investment in the next five years.

About four-out-of-five corporates (79%) and start-ups (78%) anticipated more collaborative work in the future.

Unilever presented the partnership between its sauces and dressings brand Hellmann’s and on-demand delivery start-up Quiqup as an example of successful collaboration between a start-up and a corporate business. 

Meanwhile, food and drink manufacturers were recognised in this year’s list of the best start-up businesses, Startups 100, featured in our photogallery.

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