Of choice sharks, pilot fish, courage and time

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...how start-ups and established companies cooperate successfully

Digitisation revolves around the question: too early, too late or right-in-time? Companies remain successful with the right anticipation of technological market requirements and the focus on agile cooperation with start-ups, international tech experts and innovation ecosystems – beyond their own company boundaries. Styria and Europe must continue to serve as role models in this regard. Behind this is an ecosystem of tech think tanks, business and financing specialists who got to the bottom of the push factors of open innovation and international collaborations at the “Executive Innovation Talks” at Unicorn Graz.

Successful cooperation between start-up and corporate

The way in which successful cooperation between established industry and young, agile start-ups can work was illustrated using the example of the Styrian machinery and plant manufacturer Christof Industries. Alfred Friedacher (Head of R&D at Christof Global Impact) summed up the added value of collaborations with startups when presenting the “Green House Gas Calculator” developed together with the Munich-based AI experts from Unetiq: “One example of real added value from international collaboration is the speed with which we can bring new products and services to market.” In this context, he referred to the importance of innovation catalysts such as TECHHOUSE.

Innovation synergies with a win-win situation
Lucas Spreiter, founder of Unetiq described the successful partnership between startups and established companies with the symbiosis of whale shark and pilot fish, which create a win-win situation through each other’s strengths, from which both benefit. But how open are companies and institutions to digital transformation really? Johannes Müller, Managing Director of TECHHOUSE: “As innovation architects, we support established companies as well as startups and tech teams with their individual challenges in the area of new innovations – from the idea to the implementation – because this is how we further strengthen Styria as a green innovation heart.”

Rethinking and steering the economy
The evening was rounded off by a high-calibre panel of business leaders and thinkers who discussed success factors not only for Styria as a location for innovation, but also for Europe as a business location: “International success models show that close cooperation between large companies, disruptive start-ups, governments, the public sector and universities is needed for innovation to create sustainable added value. Europe has good approaches here, but still has a lot of catching up to do,” said Christian Kern, Managing Partner and owner of the Blue Minds Company.

Europe must not fall by the wayside between China and the USA
SFG Managing Director Christoph Ludwig outlined the various initiatives that are intended to preserve Styria’s innovative strength in the future and to make it easier for start-ups in particular to take their first steps in setting up a business: “We are currently in intense competition with the USA and China as a business location, and as Europe’s innovation location we must ensure that value creation takes place here. Our task is to create attractive framework conditions for this.”

Joining forces for holistic profit
Ariane Pfleger, Chief Transformation Officer of Raiffeisenlandesbank Steiermark, explained: “By bundling innovative forces and the targeted promotion of entrepreneurship in Styria, the business location with its regional value creation is sustainably strengthened. That is why Raiffeisen-Landesbank Steiermark has been very happy to support initiatives such as the TECHHOUSE Accelerator for several years. Entrepreneurs, society and we benefit from this in equal measure – for example through the implementation of ideas in our bank that have been developed together with the start-ups.” Solveig Vitz (Head of Global Supply Chain Management, Andritz AG) added: “The factors “courage” and “time” to give new ideas a chance to be implemented are essential components for established companies, but also for the entire economic area of Europe, in order to maintain the position as innovation leader in the future.

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