Corporate accelerator Slingshot has launched a platform aimed at helping thousands of startups and scale-ups around the world find opportunities to pilot, partner and co-create with big businesses.
CoVentured, which opened registrations for local startups on Thursday, has already signed on 25 founding corporate members including Westpac, Optus, Salmat, Australia Post, Woolworths, the University of Newcastle, EnergyAustralia and Lendlease.
According to Slingshot chief executive Karen Lawson, these corporates are not on board for “innovation theatre” and actually have key decision-makers ready to work with startups and scale-ups on a range of challenges they face as incumbent market players.
With the trend for collaboration between corporate players and innovative startups on the rise, Lawson says the key problem has been connecting the two sides of the market in an easy, scalable and cost-effective way.
“It’s very, very hard for corporates and startups to find one another,” Lawson tells StartupSmart.
On CoVentured, startups can create a profile and search for opportunities with corporates at no cost, while big business clients will pay Slingshot an annual fee to feature on the site. According to Fairfax, the corporate partners will pay up to $25,000 a year to access the platform.
In the next six to 12 months, Lawson is hoping the platform will have hundreds of corporates signed up, as well as up to 3000 startups.
After building traction in Australia, Slingshot will expand the platform to markets around the world.
“Our vision is global, we are opening it up to Australian-based startups first of all but we will be taking this global,” she says.
With the federal government’s innovation agenda seemingly taking a back seat and recent studies like the Global Innovation Index revealing Australia has slid backwards on the world innovation ladder, Lawson believes a platform like CoVentured will help enable small visionary startups gain the traction they need to succeed without relying on government support or external funding.
“We were really encouraged a while ago with Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation statement and what has since happened has been really discouraging,” she says.
With a platform that gives access to startups in all locations, including remote Australia, a chance to find big customers and hit the market with corporate projects, Lawson says a fairer playing ground can be created for the sector.
Optus vice president of mobile product Tim Cowan says the telco giant is keen to pursue collaborative opportunities with startups on the platform.
“Partnering with startups is a huge driver of creative and innovative thinking and will help as we work to deliver the next generation of products and services to our customers,” Cowan said in a statement.
In a similar vein, EnergyAustralia executive Andrew Perry says his team will use the platform to find innovative and ambitious thinkers who can partner with the company deliver solutions to help customers “reduce carbon emissions” and “save money”.
“There’s a great deal of change happening in the energy sector at present and we are taking this as an opportunity to help great ideas and innovation get to market,” Perry said in a statement.