Accelerate Open Innovation with Data-driven Startup Programs

Data-driven startup programs attract high-quality startups that further your innovation goals. In this report, learn the benefits of data-driven startup programs and how to set one up.

In the open innovation paradigm, companies seek innovation externally. This is because, today, most innovative solutions come from a wide range of sources, and those who don’t seek innovation externally risk being left behind. For example, today there is an unprecedented number of startups developing novel solutions in every corner of the world. For organizations seeking to work with these startups, it is challenging to find the ones that best match their needs. One way companies engage with startups en masse is through data-driven startup programs.

Such programs use the power of big data to identify the best-fit startups and convert them into applicants for your open innovation challenges. By leveraging a large number of startups as an opportunity, data-driven approaches scan through the entire startup ecosystem to separate highly innovative startups from the noise.

At StartUs Insights, we use the big data and artificial intelligence-driven StartUs Insights Discovery Platform to supercharge the startup programs we run. With firmographic data on over 2,5 million startups, scaleups, and high-growth companies, our platform identifies the right startups to convert for your program.

What are Data-driven Startup Programs

In a startup program, corporates as well as independent accelerators and incubators communicate their innovation challenges to startups and invite them to participate in their shared innovation strategies. This way, these organizations are able to solve their technological challenges, find partners and identify strategic investment targets. Startups, on the other hand, receive access to the company’s infrastructure, financial support, distribution channels, mentorship, or technological know-how. Thus such programs create win-win synergies between organizations full of resources and startups with innovative ideas and products.

A conventional startup program relies on word-of-mouth marketing and personal networks to reach out to potential partners. This limits your scope to a small pool of startups, often those present near your physical location. However, there are many more innovative startups working outside your sight. This includes both startups in other parts of the world, including in emerging startup hubs, as well as close to you but outside of your network. Moreover, in the lack of a fit, you’d be communicating your program for weeks only to meet a dead end. In contrast, data-driven startup programs leverage global data on startups, trends, and the overall innovation landscape to reach out to and convert the most relevant startups for your program.

This ensures that the organization running the program identifies the best startups for their investment, partnership, and co-development strategies.

For startups, it’s not always feasible or prudent to shift base to your facility for an onsite startup program. The good news is that, as the last two years have emphatically shown, efficient collaboration is also possible in a remote setup. This saves costs for the host as well as increases the chances of working with great startups regardless of their geography.

Set up Your Data-driven Startup Program

Thinking of setting up a startup program to incorporate external innovation in your organization? There are two ways to do this leveraging the power of data and ensuring your program is future-ready. Organizations now initiate data-driven startup programs that accommodate virtual and semi-virtual models. Not only can they support more startups, but are free of any geographical constraints.

While the former is completely remote, the latter kind generally involves visits to the organization’s site typically at the start and/or end of the program. Based on how closely you need to work with the startups, your startup program would need to be either fully virtual or semi-virtual.

We set up the timeline and execute your data-driven Startup Program. Here are the main milestones:

  1. Define your innovation goals and objectives of the program
  2. Set up the online presence for your startup program.
  3. Reach more eyeballs by promoting your program through social media channels reaching 400 000 startup enthusiasts and our StartUs Magazine focused on startups and innovation.
  4. Get applications from the most relevant startups scouted through our global Discovery Platform covering over 2,5 million startups and scaleups.
  5. Pre-screen and pre-select applicants based on your innovation goals and other criteria.
  6. Evaluate applicants and onboard them into your program.
  7. [Optional:] Invite more applicants at fixed intervals or on a rolling basis.

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Leveraging Big Data for Startup Programs

Now, let’s look at how a data-driven approach makes startup programs more efficient and brings more relevant startups to your organization. Here are a few benefits:

Find Innovative Startups Globally

Unlike a few decades ago when a few innovation hubs dominated most industries, startups are now distributed globally. The next startup that will resolve your supply chain issues or generate new revenue streams for you doesn’t have to be based in your city or country. However, keeping track of all of these startups is time-consuming and costly. Despite all your effort, there will be some that slip your notice.

Data-driven models, such as those behind the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, analyze information from a multitude of sources, such as the startup ecosystem, news on startups, innovation, and technology, social media, patent databases, conferences, as well as by monitoring the internet to identify startups early on. Startup programs that leverage this data can source applicants from around the world more efficiently.

Optimize Conversion

As more organizations set up startup programs, the competition for attention from high-growth startups is increasing. Thus, to ensure high conversion of relevant startups, it is essential to ensure your program has a strong online presence that is optimized to convert interested startups into applications of your program. A conversion-optimized landing page is crucial for the success of your program.

Data-driven startup programs optimize all aspects of the process to improve conversion rates. Such programs allow you to reach the right audience, determine fit without lengthy meetings, and regularly receive applications from startups that meet your innovation goals. To do this, these programs use big data & analytics to identify the startups developing solutions that meet the exact needs of the organization running the program. Then, they leverage promotion and direct outreach to them, inviting them to apply.


Curious about how startup programs can help you advance your innovation goals?

For one of our projects, we identified highly relevant startups for the startup program of lighting manufacturer ZKW. The program sought solutions to advance the accuracy of their sensor data as well as integrate new lighting systems. In a span of just two months, the program attracted dozens of highly relevant applications. This led to collaborations with 6 startups working on niche lighting technologies.

Generate Relevant Applications Faster

The process of manually finding startups to invite to your program takes weeks of work. Further, it takes months before you receive enough high-quality leads. On the contrary, data-driven approaches find the right startups in hours. This means you start receiving high-quality leads within a few days of setting up the program.

Therefore, data doesn’t just help you find diamonds in the rough, but it lets you do that fast. Attracting high-growth startups to your programs provides you with a competitive advantage over your business rivals.

Nurture Long-term Relationships

Startup programs are a much more involved open innovation process as compared to other approaches like traditional startup scouting. It builds a long-term presence and enhances the reputation of the organization in the relevant startup community.

High-growth startups that were not accepted in the program for whatever reason still hold great potential as future collaborators or vendors. The more data you have on them, the more opportunities you can find to work with them. Similarly, alumni of your startup programs could be a source for partnerships and innovations long after the particular program they participated in.

Set up Your Data-driven Startup Program Today

Visibility can make or break a startup program. However, with the increasing adoption of open innovation practices, companies globally are competing for the attention of startups. Further, your program needs to catch the attention of not just startups in general, but those who develop the solutions you’re looking for.

To boost the quantity and quality of applicants to your startup program, we offer the following deliverables:

  • Conversion-optimized Landing Page: Leveraging our experience with SEO-optimized content, we set up the landing page of your startup program to attract more applicants.
  • Direct Outreach: By using our propriety Discovery Platform covering over 2,5 million startups globally, we find the ones that fit your innovation needs and convert the most relevant ones into applications for your program.
  • Promotional Outreach: By promoting your program through our magazine, social media channels, and 2 500+ online communities, we present it to promising startups globally. This also builds long-term awareness in the relevant startup community
  • Applicant Pre-screening: When, with our combined efforts, you receive more applicants than you can handle, our trained Analysts analyze startup data to pre-screen the startups with the best potential.



Are you looking to elevate your startup program or create one from scratch? Get in touch to know how our data-driven approach attracts highly relevant and promising startups to your startup program.

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