Cooperation has always been a complimenting factor to innovation. People and ideas feed off of one another, allowing innovation to take place on a shorter timescale. The perfect combination might exist between SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) and start-ups.

Why SMEs and Start-Ups Compliment One Another

Start-ups and SMEs complement one another because one has the potential to drive innovation while the other provides the much-needed structure for those innovations to take form and become a reality. Even though a wonderful partnership can exist between an SME and start-up to achieve innovation, the success depends on the selection process and determining which SME would be the best fit for a certain start-up.

A Four-Phase Cooperation Process

As a successful collaboration heavily depends on the parties involved and their compatibility with one another, it has been theorised that the best way to find the right match is to implement a four-phase cooperation process.

  • Learn: This is the phase that consists of start-ups and SMEs making an active effort to get to know one another. This would include what their approach is to business, where each of them experiences problems, and what their preferred methodology of solving problems consists of.

  • Match: In this phase, start-ups and SMEs determine whether the problem and solution that each of them brings to the table is a suitable fit. This will look at both cultural and content compatibility.

  • Test: Once it has been determined that the start-up and SME should theoretically be a good match, they will set up a test project to see if they can truly work together successfully.

  • Partner: If this test project is a success, it is safe to say that the partnership will be viable for a long-term commitment.

There are many details to take into account when choosing a partner to cooperate with. More information on this topic is detailed in the Innovation Driven by Cooperation of Startups and SME study.

Niever, M, Scholz, I, & Hahn C. 2021. Innovation Driven by Cooperation of Startups and SME. Athens Journal of Business & Economics. Vol 8: 1-17