Want a faster time to market? Create collaborations between corporates and startups. It’s that simple.

Corporates are constantly looking for new ideas to complement internal research and development efforts. Some join efforts and collaborate with other industry players through what is known as open innovation. A growing part of open innovation is startup innovation, when corporates and startups innovate together, utilising the startup supply to meet the corporate demand.

There is a new group of service providers emerging to support this startup-driven innovation. Vertical is one. To define this new category, we call ourselves Business Augmentors. To augment is to make something greater by adding to it. We don’t believe in starting from scratch on your own. We believe in combining strengths and making business better by adding to it.

Vertical evolution

Since Vertical was founded in 2015, we’ve evolved from being a health and wellness startup accelerator, to offering a range of services facilitating open innovation. Our founding team have backgrounds in startups, corporates, accelerators, service design business and ecosystem orchestration, which equips us with the perfect skillset to understand the complex landscape between the new and the established, between vision and reality. While ideas are abundant, the magic lies in execution. Therefore, the metrics that we focus on are time to pilot, size of pilot and breadth of pilot. Because the sooner we can gain real market feedback, the smaller the risk of failure.

Over the past few decades, Service Design agencies have emerged to help companies with their digital transformations. Once the strategies are done and the roadmaps populated, corporates increasingly search for solutions. The Service Design agencies fulfilled this need by crafting and shaping ideas, and by being acquired by engineering organisations they started to deliver. But this takes time, making restless corporates look elsewhere for faster solutions. That’s where we come in.

Business Augmentors work for corporates to augment the supply of ideas from startups with specialist mentorship, acceleration programs and co-creation. We aggregate skills of innovation, service design, engineering resourcing and, most importantly, a deep understanding of the idea supply existing in the startup innovation landscape. The end goal is to enable a concrete new service offering through public pilots. Eliminating some of the guesswork of innovation by getting earlier market feedback. Fast to market, faster feedback.

We help startups make a deal with corporates and support the pilot delivery

Finding the right ideas requires much more than active scouting. Classic procurement isn’t optimal either, as corporates often approach startups with heavy legal processes to protect themselves, thus eliminating one the core ingredients of innovation: risk. While sensible from the corporate perspective, it is problematic for the startup. Give and take is needed on both sides. At Vertical, we help to broker the “big buyer small seller” dilemmas. We do this by leveraging a wide ecosystem of partners and a broad pool of mentors, with both entrepreneurial and corporate backgrounds.

Building trust is a critical component of open innovation. We help startups and corporates build trust through co-working — solving daily tasks together, side by side. That’s why we arrange acceleration programs for our partners that range from a few days to several months. By working closely together, people get to know each other and the barriers between buyer and seller erodes. Trust happens when people bond.

The best source of funding for a startup is a happy paying corporate. Each time we help close a deal, that is cause for celebration. One such example from Spring 2017 involves Practigame and Pfizer. Practigame’s virtual reality training platform for nurses caught the attention of Pfizer, who were looking for new ways to engage with critical players in their supply chain, one being nurses. This perfect match resulted in a significant deal between the companies and provided the team with important market validation.

Diske and Fazer

Diske is an engineering and platform company that employs a pragmatic business approach of doing rather than deliberating. Fazer was looking for ways to pilot quickly, based on some internal work and existing Fazer systems. The two worked harmoniously together, dramatically shortening time to pilot from more than a year to just a few months. Paivi Juolahti, Head of Renewal from Fazer, says that this way of working opened up their eyes to open innovation and encouraged them to make efforts towards facilitating a food technology ecosystem in the Nordics.

For full commercial deployment, the pilots typically require lots of more work, but that’s where Business Augmenters can help by tapping into their networks of mentors and consultants, helping the startups scale to meet the corporate demand.

At Vertical, we are excited to be leading the way forward with global players, such as Healthware International, and look forward to working with more Nordic startups and corporates from around the world. If you would like to leverage the Finnish system, tap into a trove of innovative talent and leave a distinguishable footprint on the digital landscape, we should talk. Are you ready to unlock your unlimited potential?