02 January 2019

Language is key to ensuring a good understanding, this is not new. However, sharing the same language in business terms is not easy. Although, there is no doubt, as pointed out by the protagonists of the study Digital Entrepreneurship in the Basque Country, that it is decisive when setting up a relationship between a company and a digital start-up.

 emprendimiento digital euskadi baja

The study carried out within the Digital Economy lab in collaboration with Crecer+ examines, as Nagore Ardanza points out in the video, how digital start-ups interrelate with traditional production companies through open innovation processes. In other words, it studies various cases of companies and start-ups that have begun to work together. But, instead of generating a customer-supplier relationship, the start-up becomes one of the company’s strategic partners, without losing its independence and identity, so that the company can advance in the development of its product, diversify or incorporate Advanced or Industry 4.0 manufacturing processes.

The study yields several conclusions and keys to take into account so that this type of partnership can be successful, or this type of initiatives can be more common than they are at present. They are considered something positive to boost the competitiveness of the Basque industry, promoting in turn the entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, in the following exercise we will focus on a key aspect for the success of this type of initiatives, i.e., the willingness and relationship that is generated by both parties.

Throughout the presentations made in the three Basque territories, both the start-ups and companies that participated in the presentation provided some keys in this regard. Thus, Lander Unanue CEO of Stockare, opened the first sessions by stating that the first step as a start-up is to "be clear about where they want to go, think long-term, adjusting to short-term changes, and participate in programmes, training, and opportunities that may arise to talk about the project, and generate connections to be able to advance in the business project ". In the Basque Country there are many initiatives like, for example, Bind 4.0, which provide support and help to generate this type of relationships. Although more needs to be done in this area, this is a first step to get to know your potential travelling companions or partners. At this point, Alberto Ruiz de Olano, CEO of Optimus 3D, who participated in the Araba session, pointed out that to be able to advance as a start-up and to work as a partner for more than one large company, it is important to "speak the same language" and put forward the bright idea "as a business"

Sharing the same language is an aspect that was also highlighted by Josu Oleaga, New business officer of the TZBZ start-up start-up, who spoke of the need to "understand each other to reach mutual understanding". An understanding that, in partnerships between start-ups often involves certain adaptation or adaptations. This is something that, in this type of partnerships, almost occurs in a chameleonic way due to the particularities of the emerging company, as Javier Gordo, director of the RPK Technological Center, explains in the RPK- Optimus 3D case video, where he states that "they are more agile in the decision-making process, which greatly facilitates the work of companies that, like us, are more methodical and structured and, therefore, it is more difficult to change the organisational inertia ".

Working in an environment of equals and collaboration, however, not only requires the skills of start-ups to adapt, and even as Unanue points out to "rethink the strategy several times a year". It is also necessary for leading companies to believe in this type of partnerships "almost as if it were a religion" as Jon Erdozia, Corporate Development Manager within the Strategy and Corporate Development Department of the Euskaltel group explains. This is something that is not always easy because it involves leaving a comfort zone or requires some risk, and as Ricardo González, general director of SPYRO explains, "change alone is difficult and we do not like it. We prefer to stay as we are". Moreover, it should be added that as Nagore Ardanza and Agustín Zubillaga state "the leading companies must integrate this open innovation relationship model as part of their strategy and incorporate it into their governance model, which involves breaking inertia within the company itself.

However, all the leading companies agree on the benefits of this type of relationships, which often bring "freshness" to the market-driving company, as well as the possibility of capitalising on innovation more quickly. However, start-ups describe this type of relationship as an opportunity, an open window so that, without losing their independent business identity, they can move forward as a business project, as they bring confidence to new potential customers. It is necessary not to get confused and generate erroneous expectations since "this type of partnerships", as Gonzalez explains "do not necessarily mean that you will get rich overnight". Ruiz de Olano, of Optimus 3D, states that it is necessary to "adjust expectations in the short and long-run". This is also pointed out by Josean Borge, COO, of Dreamers Factory, who also emphasises that, in this process, "a fundamental aspect is mutual trust".

If you want to read more about this topic, we invite you to read the full study.