How to identify a startup that really fits your company's innovation needs?

– By Jean-Baptiste Leguet



Startups offer great potential for established companies looking to implement an open innovation process and seeking new technologies.    


But with each year bringing a host of new startups, drawing up an exhaustive list with the aim of collaborating with one of them can be tricky. What’s more, it’s often difficult to trace the history of a startup—its performance indicators, sales, customers, etc. Even determining whether the startup still exists can be tough.  


So how do you find a startup with the best potential for your business?   


Obviously, there are a lot of referencing tools online, such as Crunchbase, CB Insights, Tracxn, PitchBook and others. However, their approach is rarely personalized. Startup profiles are often general and don’t necessarily cover all startups in a given field.  


The most effective way to get reliable information during the startup evaluation process is to be part of an innovation ecosystem or to collaborate with an intermediary that has a privileged relationship with startups, such as a startup incubator.   


If you’re a large company, it’s also important to make contact with a startup before your competitors beat you to it. Some startups limit the number of companies they work with, so your best bet is to be the first to submit a project, based on your ideal conditions.   


Large companies are in turn solicited by many startups who see in them an excellent opportunity to have a prestigious first client that will accelerate their growth. For large companies, sifting through requests that arrive in different business units and aren’t centralized can be a challenge.


The important thing is to make sure that the startup you’re considering offers the best potential for your open innovation approach, as Collision Lab partner Loto-Québec can attest:   

“Employees don’t always know how to handle requests from startups, and meetings are often done out of politeness. A startup incubator acts as an expert intermediary who can filter and find startups with high potential and reduce the risks that can accompany collaboration.”


Dany Sirois, Senior Advisor, Strategy and Innovation at Loto-Québec  


For these reasons, a startup incubator is an essential go-between for connecting a startup with a large company. For example, Centech’s Collision Lab team assists large companies in identifying and selecting the most promising startups, helping them to determine the feasibility of a project and to initiate the required networking as quickly as possible.

Want to learn more on open innovation?