UK – Dutch-British food major Unilever has reported that collaborations between start-ups and large companies in the food and beverage industry will continue to grow, as they seek greater proximity for innovation to meet changing consumer needs.

The report, The State of Innovation and produced by the Unilever Foundry, predicts the corporates and start-ups will form the ‘ultimate partnership’ that will be working side by side by 2025.

The research reveals the three most important reasons for working together: learning something new, improving efficiency and solving business problems in new ways that can boost sales in both companies.

In order to keep up with the rising and changing rate of innovations in business, Unilever Foundry predicts that the start-ups collaboration will become very essential over the next five years.

Unilever executive vice president of global marketing Aline Santos said: “Collaboration can no longer be viewed as an optional extra, it’s a strategic imperative.

Start-ups are now widely recognised as invaluable sources of innovation, fuelling growth and providing pioneering business solutions.

“The State of Innovation report reveals the appetite for collaboration between corporates and start-ups and signals a shift in the models adopted for future partnerships.

As the Unilever Foundry continues its journey looking for exciting new partnerships, we are continually learning to ensure our future collaborations are effective as possible.”

Unilever Foundry predicts that large businesses will become more willing to invest in structured programmes as companies choose meaningful partnerships over PR-driven quick fixes.