For the sixth year running, startups have nominated the corporates they believed to be most active in terms of open innovation for the prestigious annual Corporate Startup Stars Awards. Launched by Mind the Bridge under the European Commission’s Startup Europe Partnership initiative in 2016, the Awards have been scaled at global level thanks to a partnership with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
“Evolve or Be Extinct has been Mind the Bridge’s mantra since day one: startups today might be either vehicles of disruption or innovation. No corporate, whatever the size and industry, is immune from disruption if they do not put open innovation at the centre of their strategy – added Alberto Onetti, Chairman of Mind the Bridge – The good news is that open innovation is increasingly adopted at global level and best practices are now available to help late movers to enter the arena and close the gap. The Corporate Startup Stars Awards are aimed at showcasing best practices and role models of how the corporate-startup collaboration might benefit both sides with the ultimate goal to help and inspire other corporates to follow suit”.
The Top3: Pfizer, AXA, Xiaomi
Pfizer secured first place, followed by AXA and Xiaomi, a global ranking unveiled today in Paris during the official Award Ceremony, opened by French Secretary of State for the Digital Economy Cédric O.
“Open innovation is key to building tomorrow’s society. Given the societal and environmental challenges of our time, companies need to work hand in hand. In France, the government is therefore committed to bringing together the outstanding vitality of “La French Tech” and the excellence of large companies. That’s why I was delighted that a prestigious event, such as the Corporate Startup Stars Awards, was hosted in France this year”, commented French Minister of State for the Digital Transition and Electronic Communication Cédric O.
One company who has systematically pursued Open Innovation with Purpose and involving all nations, all genders, all generations is the Grand Winner of this year 2021: Pfizer. This is not the result of a one-off stroke of luck, though, but the outcome of years of specific innovation activities. In fact, Pfizer has a comprehensive open innovation strategy integrating collaborations with investments (Resilience, LianBio, Pyxis are some examples) plus intrapreneurship and venture builder (Cerevel Therapeutics, spun out, is a notable case) and acquisitions (eg Trillium Therapeutics, invested in 2020 and acquired in 2021). And yes, the. Pfizer’s partnership with startup BioNTech epitomizes all this mentioned above by crossing national, generational, and gender borders to come together and to literally help save the world.
Open innovation often happens in sectors adjacent to the core business, which is where Axa proved to be an international benchmark in. In fact, we recognize Axa’s effort in fostering worldwide emerging technologies and business models, in spaces such as healthtech (telemedicine, digital therapeutics), mobility (car rental, fleet management), and others, such as cybersecurity.
Xiaomi has been recognized for successfully rolling out an open innovation strategy that builds on both an ecosystem approach and startup investments. In fact, Xiaomi has invested in hundreds of IoT startups so far, while also setting up a team of industrial designers dedicated to working with the portfolio startups, to help them create products that fit in with Xiaomi’s strategy and quality standards.
The 50 winners
In total, 50 companies, located in every region of the world have been recognised for their work: 25 as Global Corporate Startup Stars and 25 as Global Open Innovation Challengers.
“It has been truly so rewarding and inspiring to have interacted with the various members of the Open Innovation Ecosystem throughout the entire judging process. There are a few things that really struck the jury. The first one is that it is no longer Open Innovation just for business. It is Open Innovation with a purpose to serve the planet, the universe, humanity. Another thing that has struck the jury is that those who we have chosen as winners in all categories and in all regions were not content just to have open innovation in their own corporations or in their relationships with the startups. No, most of the winners have reached out to their entire communities, engaging everyone in the Ecosystem and involving them in the Open Innovation Process. Many times, they have done it with Challenges.” said Candace Johnson, who leads the Corporate Startup Stars Judging Committee.
Along with Pfizer, AXA and Xiaomi, companies named in the 2021 Top25 Corporate Startup Stars are: AB InBev, Allianz, Aramco, BNP Paribas, Bosch, BP, Enel, Engie, Haier, Huawei, Hyundai, Iberdrola, KDDI, Mastercard, National Grid, Nestlè, Orange, Samsung, SAP, Schneider Electric, Sodexo, and Telefónica.
The 25 companies awarded in the “Open Innovation Challengers” category are: Acciona, AP Moller Maersk, Banco Bradesco, Bayer AG, BayWa, BBVA, Boeing, BTG Pactual, CEMEX, Enagás, Eni, Grupo Bolivar, Grupo Sura, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Hitachi, KPN, MTN Group, Rabobank, Rakuten, Shinhan Financial Group, Standard Bank, Suzano S.A, Tata Group, Tech Mahindra, and Volvo Group.
“When adopting an open innovation model, companies don’t look to generate pioneering ideas alone but rather to utilise or build on existing internal and external ideas that enable them to be more effective at managing cost and risk and to accelerate technology development,” said John W.H. Denton AO, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce. “This way, innovation can be thought of as a continuum. Consequently, a key feature of the open innovation model is its flexibility and by way of the Awards we are shining a merited light on those companies that are leading the way for others and enabling more businesses to secure peace, prosperity and opportunity for all”.
Regional and Special Awards
Regional Awards go to Bosch (Europe), Mastercard (North America), BTG Pactual (South America), Samsung (APAC), Standard Bank (Africa) and Aramco (Middle East).
Special awards for 7 categories single out approaches and best practices that merit recognition:
- Intrapreneurship Program Award
Enagás, Engie, and Nestlè
- Startup Procurement Award
Allianz, AB Inbev, and Enel
- Venture Builder Award
BP, Telefónica, and 1886 Ventures (participation by Daimler)
- Corporate Startup Accelerator Award
Bosch, Mastercard and SAP
- Startup Investment Award
AEI HorizonX (Boeing), AP Moller Maersk, and National Grid
- Startup M&A Award
Hyundai, Rakuten, and Tech Mahindra
- Public Sector Award for Open Innovation
Special Award aimed at signaling public organizations, particularly active in innovating with startups.
Greentown Labs and Transport for London