The power of entrepreneurs on the road towards open innovation

The power of entrepreneurs on the road towards open innovation

Portrait of Pierre Bastien
Partner
Brussels Office, Western Europe
+32 2 6610-300
June 10, 2020

HOW BELGIAN CORPORATIONS COMPARE TO THE FRENCH AND DUTCH ONES IN USING CORPORATE VENTURING

The balance in the cooperation between corporates and startups is changing and their relationships are becoming more mature. To drive corporate innovation and solve complex problems faced by businesses and society, large corporations and startups are increasingly collaborating towards mutually beneficial models. In the ongoing development of such an open innovation ecosystem, joint programs rather than one shot events or acquisitions are becoming the norm.
Our cross-country analysis on the involvement of BEL20, CAC40 and AEX25 corporations with corporate venturing shows that Belgian corporations are lagging compared to peers in France and the Netherlands (only 45% active in Belgium vs. 85% in France and 72% in the Netherlands). The reasons for this discrepancy are the differences in corporate structure among countries, but also a more defensive approach towards new industry challengers and the lack of a clear open innovation strategy within BEL20 corporations.

"Belgian market structure does not explain why Belgium is lagging behind France and the Netherlands; Belgian corporates should more actively develop their corporate venturing strategy to build sustainable growth"
Portrait of Pierre Bastien
Partner
Brussels Office, Western Europe

Moreover, our analysis reflects significant differences in usage of corporate venturing across industries. Those can be explained both by the level of customer orientation, as well as by existing barriers to entry in the industry, which favors the choice of in-house innovation and acquisitions over corporate venturing.

Finally, this study shows that the adequacy of the corporate venturing model depends on the specific strategic objective the incumbentis pursuing, the intensity of the cooperation and the maturity of the partnering startup.

Going forward, company leaders should (1) create a transversal entrepreneurial culture by actively integrating and engaging employees and customers in the innovation process, (2) design and implement a focused corporate innovation strategy, including a dedicated corporate venturing unit and (3) constantly educate, follow-up and evaluate on startups by establishing KPIs to measure success and capture innovation potential.

On top, specifically for the Belgian context, corporations should (1) engage more with startups and in the earlier maturity stages, allowing them to steer and co-develop innovation on focused topics, and (2) educate entrepreneurs towards their industry challenges, accompanying them in the innovation process instead of leaving the innovation potential to competition.

Corporate venturing in Belgium, France and the Netherlands

  • Compared to France and the Netherlands, efforts in Belgium are lagging

From a geographical perspective, by comparing corporate venturing efforts of the BEL20 corporations to their French and Dutch peers, it becomes clear that Belgian incumbents are lagging to their neighboring counterparts. As illustrated by the following graph, only 45% of BEL20 companies are pursuing an open-innovation strategy based on corporate venturing to a moderate to high degree, while in France and The Netherlands statistics suggest a significantly stronger focus on venturing efforts.

Corporate venturing within BEL20, AEX25 and CAC40 companies
Corporate venturing within BEL20, AEX25 and CAC40 companies

Discover how Belgian corporations compare to the French and Dutch ones in using corporate venturing and our recommendations in our study.

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Study

The power of entrepreneurs on the road towards open innovation

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Published June 2020. Available in