Accelerating innovation in maritime through startup-corporate partnerships
Startup-corporate partnerships are becoming increasingly important as the maritime sector experiences a greater demand for innovation. At the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference 2023, Buccaneer, a company that sources and supports startups and scaleups in the maritime, and PortXL, a B2B maritime accelerator with a focus on creating tangible business value for maritime startups and scaleups, discussed these partnerships, with PortXL noting that both companies want to accelerate the maritime industry in terms of innovation for a more sustainable future.
Kirsten Ruiter, Managing Director of Buccaneer, said that Buccaneer facilitates startup-corporate partnerships by having an office space for multiple startups so that they can learn from each other, while also having a “high-quality” partner network of big companies in the Netherlands that can be potential launching customers for the startups.
Christel Pullens, Director of PortXL, stated that, even though PortXL has the same goal as Buccaneer, the company differentiates itself by running a program where it does matchmaking between a corporate and a startup, and then, in three months’ time, it works towards a pilot project or a collaboration.
“That creates, let’s say, a launching customer, or a project, and then they could continue with the program that Buccaneer has. They can help them with housing and building up their network.” Pullens added.
Emphasizing the importance of understanding complex businesses, Ruiter said that corporations want to be innovative, so the “red carpet” for the startups is there, but a lot of boundaries need to be pushed.
These boundaries can be certain policies, warranties, quality standards and certifications, and startups usually do not have that, Pullens added, noting that it is easy to find someone enthusiastic about your idea but to make it happen is different.
Commenting on the corporations’ role in the process, Pullens said: “What I think would help is if you have innovation as part of your company strategy. So, if you have certain settings in place within your organization where you create space to actually try out new things, you can allocate a budget to it, you can allocate people to it, and then you make innovation part of your core business.”
“And what we often see is that innovation is in the hands of innovation leads or the innovation department, but it’s still difficult for them to really pursue innovation within, for example, the operations management.”
To answer whether there is a need for companies such as Buccaneer and PortXL to support the corporations, Ruiter noted that “there is a lot to learn in each other’s language and also in each other’s space…so, it’ll be great if we could explore each other’s blood types a bit more.”
In that regard, Pullens revealed that PortXL has a masterclass called ‘Innovator in a Day’ where corporations are taught what they should have in place to cooperate with a startup or scaleup successfully.
To conclude the session, Pullens said that companies such as Buccaneer and PortXL are trying to teach startups how to determine who is their target customer and whether they are willing to pay for a solution, which is the core of it all.
Watch the full session “Buccaneer & PortXL” in the video below:
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