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Economical growth through cooperations between…

July 11, 2018

Economical growth through cooperations between companies and start-ups

Established family businesses have the necessary means and networks to influence the market. However, they do sometimes miss the know-how needed to be sufficiently innovative. Start-ups usually do not lack innovative capacity and are, you could say, innovative per definition. However, they often lack the needed elbowroom to break through. And so the answer seems to be clear: get both types of companies to collaborate and you will have the best of both worlds. Or is it more difficult than that? In the hands-on research project ‘The Art of Corporate Venturing’, Antwerp Management School, in collaboration with PwC Belgium and Law Square, will set out to look for key factors for a successful cooperation.

Disruption, groundbreaking business models and state-of-the-art technologies. Even if you have generous investment resources, several decades of experience and an impressive customer database, for a mature family business it won’t be easy to follow up on all the new trends, let alone be ahead of others and remain a dominant player in the market.

Start-ups, however, feel very much at home in a turbulent environment like that. Disruptive innovation is their trademark and they use it to stimulate the market. Nonetheless, for a start-up it is not self-evident to grow from a radical new idea into a profitable company. They lack the right resources and their customer database is not big enough yet.

Success factors for a win-win situation

You would think that a collaboration between a young and a mature company can only go well. Nevertheless, while corporate venturing is becoming more popular, finding and making the right match is not easy. Omar Mohout, Antwerp Management School: “With ‘The Art of Corporate Venturing’ Antwerp Management School will be analyzing the strategy of corporate venturing and the critical success factors to effectively reach a win-win situation. We will also develop tools that established companies and start-ups can use to optimally benefit from each other’s strengths.”

The power of family businesses

This project is unique because of its specific attention to family businesses. Vincent Molly, professor at the KU Leuven and Antwerp Management School: “They make up almost 77% of all companies in Belgium and represent 33% of the GDP. Even though they are often decades old and very developed, they remain relatively versatile because of the familial aspect and they can make decisions fast. Furthermore, they often have quite some internal financing and enjoy a solid reputation in the field. Those are all things that are music to the ears of a lot of start-ups.”

Thanks to the participation of partners PwC Belgium and Law Square, the project team also covers the necessary legal, tax, technical, strategic and financial expertise. As Griet Helsen from PwC Belgium comments: “Being great supporters of national and international corporate clients, family businesses and start-ups and scale-ups for years, we see this research project as something that we should definitely be involved in.” Pierre Queritet from Law Square, adds: “In the past years our law firm observed a substantial increase in the number of young innovative companies looking for more support than only financial investment and in the number of corporates wishing to collaborate with start-ups. Through corporate partnerships, these young companies can obtain an easier access to the market, a fruitful collaboration in the development of their products, and corporate assistance in the highly complex legal negotiations surrounding capital rounds.” Griet concludes: “This is the trend PwC Belgium and Law Square are trying to enhance and we are convinced that the research undertaken by AMS will be a fantastic tool to support the whole process and boost corporate venturing in the coming years.”

Family businesses or start-ups who would like to be involved in the research project are still welcome. The project will run until May 1, 2021. Find more info on the website.

About the research team

Omar Mohout (AMS), an entrepreneur himself, recently published a book about corporate venturing. Vincent Molly (KU Leuven and AMS) is a professor in Entrepreneurship and Family Businesses, and Andries Reymer (AMS) coaches companies in dealing with strategic innovation. For this research, they will work in close collaboration with family businesses and start-ups to tweak the theory and to immediately test it in practice.

Project partners

The knowledge partners who will be supporting this project are PwC Belgium and Law Square. Involved network partners are Agoria, Netwerk Ondernemen and KBC Start it.


Vincent Molly, Professor Entrepreneurship & Family Businesses, vincent.molly@ams.ac.be
M +32 486 68 29 13

Andries Reymer, Business Innovation Coach, Andries.reymer@ams.ac.be, M +32 472 17 75 04

Anja Tys, Corporate Marketing Communication Manager, anja.tys@ams.ac.be
T+32 3 265 47 33 of M+32 486 494 387

Boogkeers campus AMS management school

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