SAP, Telefonica and Virgin win as the corporates doing the most to support startups across Europe

Europe’s Corporate Startup Stars, run by open innovation advisory firm Mind the Bridge and innovation foundation Nesta, has today unveiled the list of the 36 corporates that are doing the most to collaborate with startups across the continent. The awards, the second that have taken place under the European Commission’s Startup Europe Partnership initiative, were presented at an event in Brussels.

“We need to maximize the potential of linking established corporations and start-ups across Europe, which is a clear win-win. The more that start-ups can access invaluable resources and market insight, the more established corporations can benefit from the exciting new innovations of our most talented innovators. It is this win-win scenario that we would like to achieve with the European Innovation Council, starting with the €2.7bn pilot phase that was launched just a few weeks ago that includes financial support for innovative SMEs and mentoring and coaching from experienced players” – commented European Commissioner Carlos Moedas.

12 companies have been awarded as “Corporate Startup Stars”, while a group of 24 have been recognized as “Open Innovation Challengers”. These 36 firms represent the best examples of open innovation in Europe.

“Open innovation is a must today for all established corporates either large and SMEs. However, it is hard to get it right – commented Alberto Onetti, Chairman Mind the Bridge, Coordinator Startup Europe Partnership (SEP), who moderated the Award Ceremony – We believe that the organizations doing this well should be recognized as trailblazers, and hope that they inspire others to follow suit. SEP Europe’s Corporate Startup Stars is aimed at showcasing best practices and role models how the corporate-startup collaboration might benefit both sides.”

In 2016 Cisco was crowned as the corporate doing the most to support startups in Europe. This year SAP, followed by Telefonica and Virgin in second and third place respectively, were given the prestigious SEP award.

The Judging Committee commented in particular on the holistic approach and global presence of SAP, along with the firm’s strong commitment to procurement and its active role as a M&A player. The judges also gave a special mention to the activity of Sapphire Ventures Capital Fund.

Telefonica was lauded as a great example of digital transformation, which is making significant efforts to integrate accelerated startups into the firm. The scale and vision of their OpenFuture programme is a sign that open innovation is at the core of Telefonica’s strategy.

Finally, Virgin was highlighted as a corporate able to ingrain entrepreneurship within its culture, as reflected in its corporate values and internal KPIs. All Virgin companies engage with startups via different programmes, often supported by Virgin StartUp – a dedicated entity focused on supporting small innovative businesses.


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