Corporate companies love to cooperate with healthcare startups

This is the first of a dashplus-series of blogs on healthcare corporate innovation and hospital venturing. Feel free to check them all out or join our newsletter community to stay connected (it’s free!).

Corporate companies love to cooperate with startups, definitely in healthcare. It helps them to steer their business into new directions and mitigate slow development: it’s a way to organise corporate innovation in healthcare.

The nature of cooperations between corporate and new companies can be very different: from technology partnerships to startup competitions, their own corporate venturing fund and all that lies in between.

Corporate venturing in healthcare is getting more and more popular. But it doesn’t have to be the only way to collaborate.

CV entrepreneurship is hot

Omar Mohout and Dado Van Peteghem explain Corporate venturing (CV) in their must-have book as follows:  “CV is about setting up structural collaborations with external parties to drive mutual growth. Typically, CV entrepreneurship is not only about project cooperation but also adds external investment to it: corporate venture capital (CVC)”.

According to a CB Insights report, corporate venturing capital in Europe has almost doubled from 259 deals representing 2.6 billion euros in 2015 to 468 deals representing 4.9 billion euros in 2018. 

CVC this way has become a major financing source for startups in all industries: in 2018, it accounted for already 22% of all investment in European startups and 2019 has started even better.

CVC now takes a second place after ‘traditional’ investment funds, and before crowdfunding and angel investment. (Source: Dealroom)

Healthtech is a top corporate venturing industry

Already in 2016, corporate venture capital was involved in 14% of all European healthcare deals. Health was the number 2 industry for European corporate VC investment in 2017 (Source: Mohout and Van Peteghem 2018).

Since then, it has only grown with North American startups attracting 41%,  Asian startups 38% and European ones 17% of the healthcare CV-capital in 2018.  

I see major corporate venturing funds focusing on healthcare: Google Ventures (GV), Kamet and Novartis Ventures, to only name a few. 

These CV funds are not only in the hands of the traditional healthcare business ecosystem. Also, banks, publishers and even telecom corporate companies are innovating in healthcare.*

Plus: healthcare corporate venturing is also starting in younger business ecosystems like Bulgaria and Africa now.  

But companies also invest in healthcare without having their own corporate fundThe majority of the corporate companies still do so directly from their balance sheets.   

And although corporate venturing might give the impression of being exclusive to large and deep pocket companies, smaller companies and SMEs are definitely active business partners as well. 

Belgian publisher Lannoo, for example, invests in MemoryHome, a solution to restore communication from people with dementia1 disclaimer: dashplus worked as a trusted advisor to MemoryHome.  

One of the most attractive parts of corporate venturing for healthcare startups is its investment flexibility:  corporate companies may invest in start-ups from an early stage up to merger and acquisition (M&A). And every step in the venturing process has its own opportunities. 

But there’s more to cooperation then corporate venturing alone

And corporate companies (big and small) do have a tradition to collaborate with startups in different ways; often at the same time

The Dutch startup analysts of Golden Egg Check made an interesting exercise on that point. They analysed annual reports of 98 listed companies in the Netherlands to see how they collaborate with startups. 

They found that almost half (47% to be precise) of Dutch listed companies collaborate with startups. 60% of them do so in different ways at the same time.  

Open innovation collaboration with startups seemed to be the most popular activity, for example by using startup technology or by developing a new business model together. 

Second and third in line were the in-house innovation programs (or corporate startup teams) and cooperations with universities.  

Healthcare shows to be a leading vertical for this kind of corporate-startup collaborations.  

Related to corporate venturing, Golden Egg Check found that also Dutch companies still prefer to invest directly in startups instead of holding their own CVC-fund. 


Most companies in the healthcare business ecosystem use cooperation to innovate. The need to transform products and business models is quite high and cooperation speeds up the innovation process.  

Healthcare companies use internal corporate startups and, to a growing extent, also corporate venturing to do so. 

They invest in startups and scaleups with corporate venturing capital (CVC), but still mostly in an informal way.   

For healthcare startups searching for corporate collaboration, it’s important to see this perspective. Choose the type of collaboration(s) you feel most comfortable with. One is no better than the other.

Check out the full series on corporate venturing in healthcare here. You can also download the checklist on hospital venturing: what’s needed?

dashplus helps healthcare companies to build corporate innovation. We offer workshops, trusted advice and diverse tools.

Feel free to contact me for more information or if you want to collaborate:

ebook Basics to grow in health


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