Partnerships, Investments and Acquisitions – How Corporations and Startups Work

These are the three most common methods for corporations to work with startups, but what are the real benefits and risks of each, you may ask. Fortunately, UBI Global has this data and we’re ready to share it with you.



Corporations work with startups but don’t invest by making them part of their vendor network. The corporation treats the startup with billable hours, services or goods just like a typical vendor. There may or may not be non-disclosure or non-compete agreements depending on the nature of the relationship. This is advantageous to the corporation because they have no exposure via investment. It benefits the startup in that they are certain of constant income for their resources.

A partnership may also be in the form of a business model that shares risk and reward between the parties. The startup may agree to brand or co-brand a product, service or technology and take advantage of the marketing power behind the company that they don’t have. The company gets exposure to a new and different market with only the risk of their reputation on the line. The startup gets the cache and brand awareness of the company plus a fairly certain supply and demand relationship as well.



Very straightforward on the surface, investing in a startup gives a certain amount of shares to the company in exchange for a direct capital infusion of funds. The benefits to both sides are obvious as this is a fair, tit-for-tat relationship on paper. The startup, in this case, would benefit highly from involvement with a business accelerator program that ensures future success of the investment for both sides.



This is fairly self explanatory; it could be a billion dollar buyout or an acquisition of very early technology along with employees and resources. Whatever the size and scope, the end result is the same; the startup is now part of the company. The company obviously faces the risk of the new technology failing to be sustainable for them in some way while they are out the capital from the buyout. It does prevent, however, any competitor from coming to market before them with the same thing. For the startup, the reward is financial along with becoming part of the company and the security and benefits of that relationship; the only downside being autonomy lost and, possibly, further innovation using the same methods as when they were a startup.


At UBI Global, our business incubation knowledge and data is the most comprehensive in the world. We can provide you with the best success rate no matter what your business model may turn out to be.



At UBI Global, we’ve held events with universities, corporations and startups to come up with cohesive ways to work together to achieve goals on both sides of the innovation processes. One thing we’ve observed over the years is that to gain the maximum benefits from working with business incubators and accelerators, corporations must have a pattern, plan and goals.


With this in mind, we advise our corporation partners to answer these three questions before coming to the table with a startup. This article should be thought provoking and inspiring for your future innovation and growth, so let’s get started.


1. What is our objective?

Asking your innovation team what the corporation hopes to achieve from collaborating with a startup is one of the first steps to deciding on goals for the program. Working with startups creates a new mindset in the corporate culture; it makes the team more innovative, more willing to learn and take risks as well as creating more awareness of new market trends and technologies.

Objectives can include solving a problem, better brand awareness, innovation, or expansion to new markets, just to name a few.


2. What types of collaboration programs are there?

A couple of important factors play into which type of program is right for the corporation; what industry is the main focus is one factor while the objective or objectives of the program is another. While one-off events are one of the core strengths of what UBI Global offers our corporate partners, we also support accelerators, incubators, innovation labs, investments, partnering and acquisitions. The right program makes all the difference in the effectiveness of your collaboration.


3. What resources should be devoted to the program?

Resources such as cash, technology investments or services are tangible ways of investing in the collaboration program. Startups can also benefit from employee time and mentoring as well as market access, supplier and customer networks as well as work space itself.

The best startups are attracted to corporations that understand their requirements and resource needs. While some resources are difficult to put a cost on, they are also low risk in terms of investment by the corporation.


Developing innovative solutions to solve problems or creating dynamic new products to fill a market need are exciting ventures for corporations and for startups. The best outcome from a collaboration program such as an accelerator or incubator is for a renewed sense of excitement for the brand. UBI Global has connected many corporations and startups for successful collaboration. Instead of considering a startup collaboration for yet another fiscal period, let our experience staff work with you on an exciting new path for your corporation.



In today’s growing investment market, startups are more confident than ever before. Being a startup founder or entrepreneur is a career path that ambitious young professionals prefer over a corporate career path. UBI Global coordinates startup ecosystems all over the world and observes that an extraordinarily high percentage of all startups express a desire to work with corporations in some capacity. Just because a business is in the startup phase doesn’t mean that it isn’t selective about who they work with and how. Partnership with the right corporation can make or break a startup.

So what, exactly, are startups looking for from their corporate partners?

Most startups view their partnerships with corporations as a long-term relationship, with the corporation as a customer with which the startup does direct sales. This gives the startup access to market share much faster than it could possibly gain on its own.


In contrast, a B2C relationship with a startup could see the corporation become a licensed owner of the startup’s product, an investor in the startup or another form of strategic partnership. This also gives the startup access to a marketing channel they wouldn’t otherwise be able to accomplish in such a short period of time.


It is this type of partnership that creates the deep relationship that startups are savvy enough to cultivate, and really a situation that is mutually beneficial. For this reason, the best startups concentrate on finding corporate partners that fit the product and/or have a similar culture.

The best startups see their corporate partners as more than just an open bank account

The best startups see their corporate partners as more than just an open bank account; they see them as mentors who offer access to rich resources, advice, and opportunities for mutual gain. Savvy startups know they have great ideas, but crave the guidance of a more experienced role model who can give advice on how to grow or overcome challenges.


Certain industries are more difficult for startups to enter and require years of insight and experience; for instance, the automotive industry. Credibility and industry knowledge go a long way with customers, and startups know it’s needed. Pharmaceutical, healthcare, media, and publishing, as well as technology and telecommunications, are all industry sectors that fall under the banner of being tough to enter as a startup.


UBI Global’s experienced staff recognizes the most promising startups in every industry, understands their needs and requirements and can make the best match with corporate accelerator partners for the best chance of success.

Do you want your corporate to be matched with the right incubation partner and/or their startups? E-mail today at [email protected] and let’s start the dialogue.



Having a clear innovation strategy starts with a corporation’s team of experts and their industry knowledge. Depending on the industry the corporation is engaged in, it is in their best interest to focus on the appropriate tools and accelerators that will quickly reach their innovation objectives. UBI Global has extensive experience in matching industry sector focused startups with the corporations who can best benefit from their innovations.


Successful corporate venture programs have a clear strategy on why they are engaging in external innovation efforts. These companies have conducted extensive evaluation on their strengths and weaknesses and used this information to create a strategic guide of what, how and when. This article gives an exploration of three very different industry types and the innovation tools they employ to find the next big thing.



Automotive companies are seeking innovation in adjacent industries; for example, intuitive cars, data analytics, etc.

Innovation tools: Accelerators and incubators, innovation labs



These corporations tend to focus on core business such as mobile, big data, cloud solutions, security, etc.

Innovation tools: Accelerators and incubators, innovation labs


Consumer Goods

Corporations engaged in the consumer goods industry also look for core business innovation in new products and services, new retail formats and new marketing avenues.

Innovation tools: Accelerators and incubators, innovation labs


What is an innovation lab?

An innovation lab is a workspace designed to nurture creativity. Teams of innovators from the company itself join with startup personnel for intense projects to quickly develop prototype products and services, coming up with viable innovations that can be taken to market immediately after the lab period is over.


What other venturing tools are there for corporations to consider?


Without question, the largest tools being used by corporations to seek out innovation and growth are accelerators and incubators. Though the tools and methods used by corporations to discover new ideas, designs and markets are very diverse, the majority of focus continues to be on fostering relationships with startup companies. Employing accelerators or incubators to compliment and encourage internal R&D functions is the smart way for corporations to be on top of their market. UBI Global makes it easy to find a partner, either in the industry or adjacent, that creates a synergy of innovation with corporations they work with.