California Management Review
California Management Review is a premier academic management journal published at UC Berkeley
by Stefan Kurpjuweit and Stephan M. Wagner
Collaborations between established firms and startups are increasingly considered an ingredient of corporate strategy. This article describes a startup collaboration model that has emerged in practice, a model that complements today’s predominantly used engagement vehicles of corporate accelerators and corporate venture capital. Startup supplier programs are outside-in programs that enable firms to get access to innovations that increase competitiveness of products or productivity of processes by engaging with startups based upon supplier relationships. This article presents empirical data from companies that have run successful startup supplier programs, and it explores the firms’ reasons for implementing these programs, identifies key elements of startup supplier programs, and determines how firms can run them effectively.