The future of the St. Louis entrepreneurial ecosystem will be deeper levels of corporate and startup engagement through structured programs. Corporates struggle to innovate and they must look to startups to assist them with this process. Startups have the ability to be nimble and adapt to new technological trends that can become massive disruptors, whereas corporates are not able to move nearly as quickly. Corporates are able to source new innovations through startups that will assist with investment, partnership, licensing, and acquisition opportunities that can further their growth.
From the startups’ perspective, getting the opportunity to work with a corporate as a customer or partner provides much-needed insight and customer capital to fuel their growth and success. Additionally, once startups have a corporate customer, they are able to get their second and third customers more quickly, and also it is very helpful in raising additional capital to scale.
From the corporate perspective, not only are they able to get access to cutting-edge technology and business models, but by engaging their employees with startups, the employees can transform the way they think inside the corporation. It allows for boosted creativity for new product concepts that can be deployed for the corporate to drive new lines of revenue.
Also, corporate employees learn how resourceful startups need to be with their time, capital, and focus; it infuses this mindset into the employee, allowing them to reinvent themselves in the corporate environment to enhance work product and productivity. This kind of synergistic value-add engagement between startups and corporates will be best structured in a formal program with an intermediary that has experience in engaging both startups and corporates together. This is key in furthering the growth of the St. Louis innovation ecosystem.