To maintain their legacy of innovation in a swiftly changing world, Valuer helps Nilfisk identify startups that best satisfy the company’s thirst for technological development.
What is now a leading global provider of professional cleaning products and services, started as nothing more than a large dream squeezed into a technology enthusiast’s small backyard. It’s the same constant desire for knowledge and innovation that kept the company at the forefront of technological advancement for the next 110 years. From the launch of the first vacuum cleaner in Europe to the “Silent Dane” model that forever lowered the noise levels of vacuuming to the recent development of a ground-breaking autonomous scrubber for unmanned cleaning.
Today, Nilfisk has an extensive range of both professional and domestic cleaning equipment. Their main product lines are floor care equipment, vacuum cleaners, high-pressure washers and a selection of domestic vacuum cleaners. At the end of 2018, the company numbered more than 5,800 employees worldwide, including more than 250 engineers focused on the structured stage-gate development process and more than 3% annual revenue dedicated to research and development.
A large part of Nilfisk’s current long-term strategy is to become the leader in intelligent cleaning. Guided by a heritage of tireless dedication, they’re well aware that – in order to succeed in this, they will need to quickly adopt the newest, most promising technologies. Especially those relevant to robotics and digitalization, two novel and extremely challenging branches.
But The Times They Are Changing
Bjarne Schon, the company’s Vice President of Digital Services — a newly formed internal organization whose goal is to power up a traditional company and disrupt it from the inside — thinks that the way to do this is by tapping into the entrepreneurial ecosystem:
“Startups are by nature much more agile, flexible, and sometimes able to attract resources that we can’t – simply because they’re a startup. They often have some knowledge that is difficult for us to get a hold of, and they can quickly increase this knowledge significantly. Working with startups is a super important element of being innovative for corporate companies such as ours.”
Which is why, in 2018, Nilfisk turned to Valuer to help in the search for the startups and researchers, around the world, that will best complement the corporation’s needs. They strongly believe that it’s exactly those partnerships with small tech teams, in which both parties play to each other’s strengths, that will enable companies to together reinvent industries.
“There are areas where we constantly need access to the latest knowledge. And we always ask ourselves: ‘Are there any entrepreneurs out there that work with identifying the answers to our issues?’ That’s why we work with Valuer – to find those startups,” said Bjarne Schon, Vice President of Digital Services at Nilfisk, adding that “We can identify the problem alone, but we can’t necessarily solve it without the help of the startups that are focusing on resolving those issues.”
As VP of Development, Bjarne has the opportunity to work with the latest technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Analytics, and Big Data. In order to boost innovation, his team of developers and scientists embraces the entrepreneurial culture. According to them, their department functions as a “startup-within-a-company”.
The Answers Lie in Strategic Partnership with Technology Companies
Even though it’s safe to say that innovation is woven into every aspect of Nilfisk’s culture, according to the company, working with Valuer helps with “the tough nuts they have to crack”. Or, with other words, Valuer’s ability to provide companies with insight into their blind spots of where they should be sourcing for partnerships, helps with seeing “the bigger picture”.
Source: YouTube – Nilfisk
It’s typical for an organization of such magnitude, that does so many things simultaneously, to find it impossible to focus on all concerns that demand attention. Since, unlike smaller startups who’ve spent years dedicating their work on a certain, niche topic, a large corporation like Nilfisk doesn’t always have the specific, needed-at-the-moment, competencies in-house. Which is why strategic collaborations with smaller companies are progressively becoming a very attractive solution for enterprises.
“We don’t have the resources to do the search and the qualification, the so-called ‘scouting’ for startups, that Valuer does. We might know some entrepreneurs, but we need help from someone that has the ability to scan the entire world and find the answers we’re looking for. Working with Valuer is a great way to find other people that agree with us on which issues need to be solved. So having an ongoing relationship with Valuer is important to us,” shared Bjarne Schon.
Bjarne agrees that maybe one of the most important, key takeaways, from the concept of large corporations building partnerships with small, flexible startups, is the notion that it’s a two-way street. A symbiotic relationship where each side focuses on the unique qualities that they can bring to the cooperation.
“Among other perks, we have the marketing channels, the brand, the experience, and the position in the market that startups don’t have. Forming partnerships with startups is just as much a benefit for them, as it is for us,” said Bjarne Schon.
And, luckily, it’s not only large corporations that are aware of the benefits of both ecosystems working as a whole. According to a study conducted on the topic, 70% of the startups included stated that they believe it’s “very relevant to partner with corporates”.
Valuer’s goal is to enable those partnerships by connecting corporations with their best-matching startups. We help them discover each other’s values, realize what exactly they would gain from the partnership, help the corporation track a startup’s development, and offer them valuable insight.
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