5 Powerful Corporate-Startup Partnerships in 2021

Established companies usually find it hard to keep up with customers’ ever-changing needs and the latest technology trends due to their rigid revenue models. Successful businesses have recognized that the remedy is open innovation. 

As the number of corporate accelerators and incubators continues to grow, corporate-startup partnerships are proved to be the way forward. These 5 powerful corporate-startup partnerships in 2021 testify to the increasing importance of open innovation.

1. BioNTech-Pfizer partnership on COVID-19 vaccine development

Pfizer, a SwitchPitch client and a well-known pharma giant, and ts German startup partner BioNTech are the superstars behind the Pfizer COVID vaccine technology. In their partnership, BioNTech provides their technical know-how while Pfizer brings their experience in vaccine development and delivery.

The collaboration between the two dates back to 2018 with a deal to work together to develop mRNA-based flu vaccines. According to Yahoo Finance, in normal times, BioNTech and its approximately 1,500 employees are focused on developing specialized immunotherapies for cancer patients based on “messenger RNA” (mRNA) molecules.

In March 2020, the two companies announced a joint development of COVID-19 jab. The CEO of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin, stated that the cooperation is a good fit because it allows BioNTech “to develop and distribute a possible vaccine in the shortest time possible.” 

Pfizer and BioNTech’s mRNA-based vaccine was the first COVID-19 shot authorized in Europe and the U.S last year. In preparation to supply hundreds of millions of doses to those two regions alone, Sahin recently said the companies would boost their 2021 output target to 2 billion doses from a prior goal of 1.3 billion, according to an article on FiercePharma.

A massive real-world study has confirmed that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s first two-dose regimen is 94% effective, as reported by FiercePharma. In the meantime, the companies are in talks with the FDA and EMA about studying a new booster specifically designed to tackle new variants. 

In addition, Pfizer has a long history of forming startup partnerships and funding biotech innovations. The Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative (PBGI) is one recent example. Pfizer’s innovative culture has definitely paved the success of its co-created COVID-19 vaccine.

2. Aurora-Toyota partnership on robottaxi development

Aurora Innovation is an autonomous vehicle unicron founded by former Google engineer Chris Urmson in 2016. According to Crunchbook, Aurora has raised a total funding of $1.1 billion over 3 rounds. 

Aurora has a stellar record. Previously, Kia and Hyundai had invested in Aurora in 2018 while Volkswagen partnered with the startup in the same year. In 2020, Aurora brought the Uber Advanced Technologies Group to strengthen its team and technology. Recently, following the collaboration with Paccar this January, Aurora has just announced its team-up with the biggest automaker in the world — Toyota. 

Toyota, Aurora, and the auto part supplier Denso will join forces to develop a fleet of robotaxis, with the first hitting the road by the end of 2021. The companies plan to start the development and testing process by equipping the Toyota Sienna minivan with Auror’s self-driving hardware and software stack. Once they finish testing, the companies will begin mass producing autonomous vehicles for ride-hailing operations. 

In this partnership, Aurora gains access to Denso’s mass-production and engineering expertise as well as Toyota’s blue-chip reputation. At the same time, Toyota saves money and research efforts to develop an autonomous driving system on its own. By working with two Japanese automotive giants, Aurora would certainly approach its end goal in a more efficient manner. 

3. ITM-Microsoft partnership on blockchain technology

International Trust Machines Corporation is an award-winning Taiwan blockchain solution provider. Founded in 2019 by Julian Chen, the CEO, ITM provides a blockchain software development kit (SDK) that can be ported on low-level IoT chips and is secured with a fingerprint on blockchain.

A year ago, ITM received pre-A round funding from global leading IC design house MediaTek. The investment has brought ITM a rising overseas interest, and the new-born startup saw a surge of demand for its products among the global partners.

Together with Microsoft and MediaTek, ITM has developed a solution for TaiPower, Taiwan’s largest energy provider, to record solar power data generated by smart meters. MediaTek chipsets certified for Microsoft Azure Sphere have been successfully deployed in TaiPower’s power fields. Data collected by the smart meter will be sealed on Blockchain, and automatically connected to Microsoft’s Azure Sphere security cloud services.

ITM is currently working with global brand names such as Microsoft, Qualcomm and Taiwan Mobile. The success of this blockchain startup signifies the growing importance of blockchain in various industries. For example, technology enterprises are using blockchain to build Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructures. The ITM-Microsoft partnership accelerates the development of trust and data transactions in the era of IoT.

4. Harbor-ADT partnership on home-security service

On February 24, Harbor, a safety and preparedness platform, announced the launch of Harbor Premium, a paid subscription service backed by the home-security leader, ADT. 

The idea behind Harbor is allowing users to assess risks of their home with ease. The Harbor app provides gamified lessons and educational quiz around how users can prepare for specific emergencies that may befall them. The app breaks down relatively large projects into bite-sized tasks based on the various preparedness involved such as storing water, checking smoke detectors or having a stocked go-bag. 

The partnership integrates ADT’s 24/7 professional monitoring and proprietary mobile safety platform, Safe by ADT, into HarborHELP, a new emergency feature of the premium service. With a simple slide of the HELP button, users will be quickly connected to ADT’s professional monitoring team. ADT will then start to “contact the user, alert authorities, and share their location” with emergency responders.

Due to Harbor’s unique business model, the startup received $5 million in funding in August of 2020 from a single investor called 25madison, a New York-based venture studio that incubates and funds companies from inception. In October, Harbor launched the product publicly.

“ADT is allowing Harbor to use a fairly expensive nationwide network,” commented by Harbor’s CEO Dan Keesler on the partnership. “So, there is obviously a financial aspect to the relationship but I would say that the core of this relationship is indeed strategic. We have very aligned visions as companies and we’re helping each other do something that we can’t do by ourselves.”

5. DeltaTrainer-Anytime Fitness partnership on online personal training service

The devastating effects of COVID-19 have struck the fitness community, but DeltaTrainer’s remote training platform enables gyms to maintain six-figure revenue streams throughout closures, according to the Associated Press.

DeltaTrainer is a technology startup based in Pittsburgh, PA. One year ago, the company launched their direct-to-consumer training service that pairs clients with remote one-on-one coaches. The DeltaTrainer app uses proprietary smartwatch AI, which automatically detects movements and provides live feedback to clients’ form and pacing. This provides the same training experience with an in-person trainer, but with a lower price. As stated in the AP article, the price for the unlimited remote personal training is $69 per month, which is significantly less than the $500+ cost of a typical trainer. 

The CEO and co-founder of DeltaTrainer, Matt Spettel, said the startup responded quickly to the remote personal training trend in April 2020 by adding hundreds of new exercises to its platform that relied on little to no equipment. As a result, DeltaTrainer has grown explosively from just 1 part-time trainer with a handful of clients at the beginning to dozens of full-time trainers and thousands of clients across 12 countries now, according to the Associated Press

The startup’s corporate partner, Anytime Fitness of SE Brands, is the largest gym chain in the world. The company has over 3,000 gyms serving more than 3 million active members on 5 continents. DeltaTrainer provides the technology that Anytime Fitness’s trainers and customers need in nowadays digitally-dominated fitness landscape. 

Unexpectable yet influential events like the COVID-19 pandemic push corporations to seize new opportunities in order to be at the market’s forefront. Corporations’ cutting-edge plans and goals usually require the developed expertise from fresh-minded startups. Finding a startup partner is not as difficult as you may think. Learn more about SwichPitch’s reverse pitch method and how it helps to form powerful corporate-startup partnerships. 

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