Revealed: the big companies doing the most for startups in Europe

By Johan De Mulder

SAP, Telefonica and Virgin have been named as the top three ‘startup friendly’ corporates in Europe from a ranking backed by the European Commission.

The trio came out on top in SEP Europe’s Corporate Startup Stars ranking for 2017, with SAP ranked as the highest off the back of its holistic approach to business and its consistent record in procurement.

36 companies in total made up the Corporate Startup Stars ranking, which is produced as a joint project by innovation advisory firm Mind the Bridge and innovation foundation Nesta.

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The awards are part of the European Commission’s ‘Startup Europe Partnership’ initiative and European Commission Carlos Moedas was in attendance at the presentation in Brussels last month.

“We need to maximize the potential of linking established corporations and start-ups across Europe, which is a clear win-win,” said Moedas.

“The more that startups can access invaluable resources and market insight, the more established corporations can benefit from the exciting new innovations of our most talented innovators.”

Other companies recognised in the ranking included last year’s winners Cisco, Mercedes-Benz (Daimler AG) and Unilever’s Foundry, Unilever’s own platform for startups to engage.

“Data shows that firms in Europe are finally finding mechanisms for meaningful and successful corporate-startup collaboration,” said Chris Haley, Nesta’s Head of New Technology and Startup Research.

“We believe that the ability to collaborate across differences in size and culture is an increasingly important source of competitive advantage, and expect to see corporate-startup collaboration continue to gather pace in the years ahead.”


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