Today startups are able to develop new products rapidly to a wide field of industries. Startups can relatively quickly adjust their operations to suit new situations in the market or with customers. Many enterprises now share the common thought: they are looking at startups today not as a threat, but as potential partners to create more value for their company, consumers and the industry.
Slush introduced Corporate Pitching last year to create a new platform for startups to get access to the resources and networks of more established companies. Altogether eight enterprises took the stage to pitch some of the major challenges in their businesses that they were looking for startups to solve. These enterprises were Kemira, KONE, OpusCapita, Telefonica, Unilever, UPM, Vaisala and Wärtsilä. Here we introduce three of these competitions and the final results:
1. Telefonica Open Future
Telefonica Open Future wants to be where the best startups and players of the ecosystem are. This is also the reason why Telefonica Corporate Pitching was arranged at Slush 2015. “Telefonica Open Future has in its DNA the collaboration between the startups’ talent, with new disruptive ideas, and a corporation like Telefonica which can offer a network of experts, partners, distribution channels and investment vehicles,” explains Valentín Fernández, Global Director of Business Development & Partnerships at Telefonica Open Future.
One of Telefonica’s main objectives is to bring the best of external innovation, coupled with their internal R&D, to their customer base of 320 million people and to create a win-win situation for both startups, customers and enterprises. The winner of their pitching competition was CareMonkey, a startup that provides a health and safety system that automatically keeps medical and emergency contact details up to date for an organisation with a duty of care.
UPM represents a traditional industry – forestry. The company was eager to know if startups are interested in the challenges their industry provides and to find new partners in mobile development. In UPM’s pitching competition at Slush, two challenges were featured: 1. Use the Forest which looked for solutions to raise interest of the new generation of forest owners towards their property, and 2. Spot the Species, directed for mobile developers to create a game for Guides and Scouts of Finland that would take kids and teenagers to the forest.
The success of the competition blew everyone away. In the Spot the Species challenge, UPM made a contract with NordicEdu, and the game for The Guides and Scouts of Finland will be ready by summer 2016. In Use the Forest Challenge, UPM began to develop a mobile platform together with Taiste, and the app for private forest owners will be launched already in May. “I think big companies should be more bold in opening the doors to small or even big development programs with startups,” explains Paula Savonen, Manager, Marketing & CRM, Forestry & Wood Sourcing at UPM.
Wärtsilä launched the Marine Mastermind innovation contest to find ideas on how they could, together with startups, discover opportunities for digital innovation within the marine industry. The winner Marina Ahoy Ltd is developing a customer service touchpoint for marinas and a convenience tool for sailors. The tool offers sailors and marinas a real-time connection that helps automate routine tasks and can therefore enable marinas to operate around the clock. The winner got a Lean Innovation Lab product development sprint orchestrated by ShiftActions, which will focus on commercial shipping application of Marina Ahoy’s solution.
Wärtsilä sees that startups can bring speed to the rather conservative market. The enthusiasm and lack of rigid organisational structures is a force to reckon with when developing ideas into products and solutions. “I see that collaboration between startups and corporates is the key to make a step change, as corporates can provide valuable insights and global access in capital intensive industries, whereas startups are able to do agile development of new products that are needed to drive the change. So within our industry, I believe this is a beginning of a new era of open innovation,” explains Tero Hottinen, General Manager, Business Innovations at Wärtsilä.