Companies strive to cooperate with the best startups or established specialists. How do innovation partners get together without taking detours? Here’s a digital solution that makes it very easy to search for potential partners and keep track of all contacts.

Many professional partnerships begin by getting into conversation and exchanging business cards. However, the opportunity for personal networking has been lacking in recent months. E.g., virtually all trade fairs have been canceled and could not serve as a meeting place. Innovative companies therefore have to rely on virtual contacts. This shortcoming also offers an opportunity: Large companies can use their own digital platforms to create standardized access for innovation partners – in a fair, transparent and time-saving manner. This is particularly interesting for decentralized organizations that maintain contacts all over the world, implementing countless projects in parallel and seeking to do this in a coordinated way.

Such a digital platform can be set up e.g. on the basis of a CRM solution. Alternatively, companies may choose a specialized software such as Hype Innovation or Innosabi. These applications simplify and improve several processes at once:

Aggregating partner data

Innovative companies may approach large investors via e-mail, social networks or other channels. For the contact person receiving such a message it is often hard to find out whether a provider is already known within the company – e.g. abroad or at a subsidiary? Some candidates prefer to keep a low profile on this question. If you have a platform that documents all partnerships and contacts you will get the answer in seconds: You can instantly view master data of the company, competencies, possibly completed (pilot) projects, internal contacts and other relevant details. If the experience was positive, you are already one step further and can significantly shorten the process of familiarizing with the respective company.

A structured approach to collaborations

Let’s assume that the initial talks with a couple of potential partners went fine. The internal team has a clear favorite, and everyone involved wants to get down to work. But there is one bureaucratic problem: Procurement criticizes that the project management should have put an order of this size out to tender. Such internal regulations are essential, but they can unnecessarily drag out the innovation process. A digital partner platform with appropriate workflows can help to initiate and develop a collaboration step by step: It starts with the initial contact, continues with the submission of the pitch deck, the start of a pilot project etc. Potential partner companies and their case studies can be evaluated based on defined criteria – such as the degree of innovation, product or service quality, or scalability of a case study. The company can share these testimonials internally.

Tracking down innovative companies

Looking for augmented reality solutions in shipbuilding? AI-powered moderation software for online forums? Intelligent watering systems for urban farming? To raise company-wide awareness of such requirements, project managers can create so-called scouting missions. Colleagues who are well-connected within the startup scene may take on these topics and establish contacts with potential partners. In addition, interfaces to startup scouting platforms such as Mapegy and Innospot can be set up. Project managers can search these directories, and suitable results will be imported automatically.

Organizing campaigns

If the internal scouting remains unsuccessful, the company can also communicate requirements to the market, as a preliminary stage to a call for proposals. Interested companies can view these campaigns and submit their offers, which will be evaluated by employees of the requesting company. Such campaigns can be expanded as desired, e.g. they can result in a tender process.

Pooling ideas

Innovative suggestions from within the company can also be collected, evaluated and followed up via the platform. In this way, the company can simultaneously bundle internal innovative power and external expertise and thus exploit the full potential of ideas and know-how.


It usually makes direct sense to the internal stakeholders how useful such a digital partner platform can be. As a result, companies do not have to expect much resistance. Compared to other solutions, data maintenance is not very time-consuming, thanks to automated interfaces to corporate directories. Merely the company’s own contacts and meeting minutes will have to be documented according to a standardized scheme.

The current digital solutions are so advanced that they can be implemented quite quickly, provided the necessary know-how is available. Though the added value of the platform is obvious, it is advisable to promote it externally and internally, for example in general conference calls. Experience shows: The circle of users who wish to benefit from the platform and want to share their knowledge or ideas will grow within a short period of time.

06.09.2021, Grosse-Hornke

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