Partnering with Startups

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The Innovation Workshop Atlas
EIPM article - Partnering with Start-ups cover image

Partnering with Startups

by Dr Hervé Legenvre and Dr Romaric Servajean-Hilst


Our new Value Creation Obervatory Report on Partnering with Start-ups is out!

Purchasing teams are increasingly realizing that they need to look beyond the classics and search for new opportunities to contribute to their Company’s success. This sometimes includes working with Start-ups! Our Companies are now surrounded by dynamic ecosystems where Start-ups are gradually taking prominent roles.

Start-ups and large corporations want to work together and Purchasing teams can contribute to make these collaborations work. We have a role to play, an opportunity to grab.

EIPM article - Partnering with Start-ups cover image

Purchasing teams can contribute throughout the different stages of collaboration with a Start-up. To do so, they need to simplify their processes, they need to focus on the essentials and to continuously learn from experience.

We can help finding Start-ups by contributing to the mapping of business ecosystem and by joining other functions in scouting activities, when relevant. We need to be opportunistic but, at the same time, we also need some focus and it is important to explore these ecosystem with some “unmet needs” in mind.

Managing effectively the early exchanges with Start-ups is essential… . We need to find the balance between ambition and the attention to details. Complementarities and trust develop over time. We might need, in some instances, to protect the Start-ups from our cumbersome processes and to redesign our qualification process for them. We need to understand each one of them, to evaluate their true potential contribution and how much risk we are ready to take, if we work with them. It is important to early recognize differences while sharing the same goals.

Building and sustaining solid partnerships with Start-ups require focus on a small number of key-business and/or knowledge outcomes. Intellectual property issues need to be addressed through tough but fair and value sharing deals. It is best to operate through quick loops of validation and learnings, where clear feedback is shared on both sides. This process needs to be managed. We can help create the required transparency, clarity and visibility on goals, resources, actions and progress. Sometimes, we might need to protect the Start-up from our complexities, as their resources are limited.

Overcoming scalability challenges is one area where Start-ups can benefit from our help. On one hand we can help manage internal expectations, on the other hand it is also possible to help the startup access the right resources and network to manage its ramp-up. We, Purchasers, have the right tools and networks to help Start-ups make this work.

So it’s time to partner with Start-up! Purchasing can be more than a key for success.

To find out more about this, feel free to download the latest EIPM Value Creation Observatory report: Partnering with Start-ups.



Dr Hervé Legenvre

EIPM Value Creation Observatory Director


Dr Romaric Servajean-Hilst

Associate-researcher, i3-CRG / Ecole polytechnique – CNRS – Université Paris Saclay