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August 27, 2019

First Belgian Corporate Venturing Barometer 2019

Together with PwC, Antwerp Management School mapped out to what extent established companies and start-ups in Belgium work together and what plans they have for the future in that respect. This resulted in the very first Belgian Corporate Venturing Barometer 2019.

Established companies have the necessary means and networks to play into the market. But they sometimes lack the know-how to be sufficiently innovative. Start-ups usually have an abundance of innovative capacity; they are inherently innovative. But they often lack the scope they need to break through. That leads to an easy conclusion: if both types of business work together, you get the best of both worlds.

The unique feature of this project is its specific attention to SMEs and family businesses. Vincent Molly, professor at KU Leuven and Antwerp Management School: “SMEs and family businesses are the driving forces behind our economy. They account for 99% and 77% respectively of the total number of Belgian companies. Moreover, they are managed by entrepreneurs, which makes them an ideal partner for the numerous start-ups that emerged in recent years.”

Over 600 Belgian companies participated in this first Corporate Venturing Barometer, including established multinationals, SMEs, family businesses, start-ups and scale-ups. That number indicates that there is a growing interest in starting a collaboration between an established company and a start-up. 1 in 5 established businesses have worked with a start-up in the past 3 years. For 2019, it is 1 in 4. For the long term (in 2 to 5 years), no less than 1 in 3 companies is considering starting a collaboration with a young start-up. Andries Reymer, Business design & innovation coach at Antwerp Management School: “It is great to see that in setting up such a cooperation, both SMEs and family businesses are catching up with larger multinationals that have already been doing this for some time."

While in corporate venturing traditionally the established company participates in the start-up's share capital, we now see that most companies prefer a different form of collaboration. Often it consists in purchasing the start-up's products and services, developing a project together with a start-up, or giving a start-up access to business facilities. The established businesses’ main motive is clear: cooperation allows them to explore new products and markets. For start-ups, the main motive for cooperation is gaining increased access to the market.

The barometer also shows that it is not always easy to set up such a cooperation. Established businesses often run into difficulties selecting the correct start-ups or fitting the collaboration into their time-consuming operational activities. The huge cultural differences between both partners often lead to tension as well. Start-ups on the other hand often clash with the difference in decision-making in their company and the established company. Vincent Molly: “Our research indicates however that both SMEs and family businesses can play an important trump card in that respect. Compared to large non-family businesses, SMEs and family businesses have significantly less issues with the differences in decision-making between them and the start-up. The shared entrepreneurial mentality and a flat organizational structure undoubtedly play an important role in this.”

Find out more about the research

You can find a detailed insight into our CV Barometer here.

Visit our project page and download our recent white paper on the HOW and WHY of Corporate-Start-up cooperation. This publication provides a detailed insight into the different motives for corporate venturing and presents a unique model of 20 potential forms of collaboration between established companies and start-ups.

About the research team

Vincent Molly (KU Leuven and AMS) is professor of Entrepreneurship and Family Businesses. Andries Reymer (AMS) coaches businesses on how to handle strategic innovation. Robin De Cock is professor of Entrepreneurship. For this research they worked closely with Omar Mohout (AMS), an entrepreneur himself, who published a book on corporate venturing.

Project partners

Supporting knowledge partners in this project are PwC Belgium and PwC Legal. Network partners involved in the project are Agoria, Voka, Port of Antwerp, Netwerk Ondernemen, Imec I-start, Birdhouse, KBC Start-it, Startup Factory and LSU Limburg.

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