Co-Innovation: How can big and small businesses work together effectively?

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There’s no denying that innovation is one of the key drivers for business success. It is a critical skill that brings with it a greater opportunity for problem-solving, increasing and sustaining market position and generating more profit. Innovation is especially important in the fast-moving digital landscape that businesses now reside.

Co-innovation is the collaboration between two or more partners to unite their technical, creative and marketing knowledge to achieve optimum success for their business, users and stakeholders

It is one way to truly achieve the highest targets, where big and small businesses can work in partnership, each boosting the other along. But how can a start-up business and a large corporation work in partnership to co-innovate effectively?

Improve products and services

The research and development of products and services can cost a considerable amount of profit share. Larger businesses and organisations have traditionally dominated the world of innovation as they have more access to the vital funds and resources required; however, this has caused an innovation vacuum. Large corporations have realised that they need the input of a more diverse set of skills to better advance the products and services that they offer.

Define best practices

Co-innovation is about harnessing the best practices and ideas from both worlds of big and small businesses and implementing them within projects. By pooling resources and different skills sets, businesses can;

  • Expand creativity
  • Increase social impact
  • Reduce the costs of research and development
  • Increase the opportunity of creating successful products and services
  • Increase financial performance
  • Mitigate risk
  • Increase loyalty to the brand

Encourages business agility

Business agility is essential for creating a sustainable business model. Many smaller businesses now take advantage of coworking offices and the flexibility that this affords them. It can offer access to the same facilities that the larger businesses have in their London office space, and the advances in technology allow greater connectivity and collaboration.

For big businesses to survive, they have to learn to adapt to the disruption that technology developments create.

Being able to respond to market changes and trends swiftly makes the partnership more responsive to external factors that are beyond their control. Organisational agility allows businesses to remain as market leaders in the face of market movements. Their key strength is in being able to reprioritise in a rapidly changing business environment.

Redistributes the power

There has traditionally been a noticeable division between the bigger and smaller companies. Smaller businesses, based in startup office spaces, are nimbler and often prepared to creatively challenge the status quo with more customer-centric niche ideas. Big businesses are typically restricted by their very defined core activities and the management multi-levels of management. This has led many big businesses to view startups and small businesses as critical partners for their continual development and growth.


Co-innovation is a symbiotic relationship. Smaller businesses can identify the gaps of the larger businesses, create a solution and develop a scalable product that the larger business can adapt and develop.