On Corporate-Startup Collaboration: Francis Chmelir of ITEN

It’s no secret that St. Louis’ size allows for unique collaborations. Startups are able to gain access to corporate leadership and big businesses can feed off of the growing energy in the innovation space. We asked leaders in the startup space, corporate space and community to speak on what each sector can learn from one another and about what’s happening right now in our region.

Francis Chmelir is executive director of ITEN.

Photo provided by Francis Chmelir
Photo provided by ITEN

What are some things that startups need support on that larger enterprises can provide? What are challenges that larger enterprises have that startups can help solve?

Startups need information from corporations on market-driven problems; Enterprise can find innovative, nimble thinking and process from the startup community. 

What are three ways corporate-startup collaborations benefit the region?

Retention and attraction of talent; New company formation/spinouts; Better investible dealflow.

How has your organization or company created or facilitated corporate-startup partnerships?

ITEN’s Corporate Engagement Program focuses on matching startups with corporate needs, and getting more dialog fostered between these communities. 

What’s one challenge in creating these partnerships?

[The] need to find more corporate champions within enterprise to help create the pathway for startups to reach decision makers; Shorten the decision time.

In the future, what are some levels of engagement you’d like to see happen at your organization, in terms of startup-corporate relationships?

More reverse pitches to startups; More corporate innovation teams embedded at incubators; Funded startups being spun out of local corporations.

Mentioned in this Article

Mary writes for EQ and previously contributed to ALIVE Magazine and worked in the digital marketing field as an account manager. A central Illinois native, she got her news-editorial journalism degree from the University of Illinois and then moved to St. Louis so she wouldn’t have to be around as many Cubs fans. Then she married one.

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