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Strategic venturing and cultural change crucial for organisations to thrive in the post-pandemic economy, reveals Gellify

GELLIFY’s 2021 Corporate Entrepreneurship event reveals implementing strategic venturing and cultural change crucial for organisations to thrive in the post-pandemic economy



Massimo Cannizzo

The fifth annual ‘Corporate Entrepreneurship’ event hosted by GELLIFY’s B2B Community recently, saw over 70 international venturing experts congregate for the unique two-day virtual event. 21 exclusive sessions from various industries and academia experts, delved deep into how organizations can leverage Venturing Methodologies, Corporate Venture Capital (CVC), Intrapreneurship, Cross-Innovation, and Innovative Technology Startups to grow their businesses and adapt to the challenges of the new post-pandemic economy.

“We are facing a period of great resignation, rethinking, and resetting of relationships and new, disruptive businesses. The time to build Corporate Entrepreneurship into company structures and prevent disruption was yesterday. But it is not too late to catch up”, said Lucia Chierchia, Managing Partner at GELLIFY. 

Several companies begin corporate venturing in order to create an innovative corporate culture internally. For others, having an internal startup acts as a driving force to attract young talent. Regarding the size of investments, as per the Gellify Corporate Venturing study released in September 2021, around 50% of the well-established companies provide more than AED43.38 million ($11.81 million) in capital to their CVC (Corporate Venture Capital) each year, while 36% provide less than AED21.67 million ($5.90 million), and 14% provide between AED21.67 million ($5.90 million) and AED43.38 million ($11.81 million). 

However, the success of venturing initiatives can be challenged by excessive internal bureaucracy within large companies, which can cause misalignments with the parent company, conflicts of interest, intellectual property issues, etc. In fact, 43% of the surveyed companies have had unsuccessful experiences with startups.

With more than 900 subscribers, including decision-makers from CVC wings, C-level executives, and innovation managers, the experts, together with the virtual audience from 50 countries discussed new trends and venturing methodologies that connect established companies with innovative technology startups. 

Talking about WHY more and more companies are engaging in corporate venturing, Massimo Cannizzo, CEO, and Co-Founder, Gellify Middle East said, “Although established and traditional companies first adopt this approach for financial reasons, they’re now orientating themselves towards strategic venturing, in order to grow alongside the tech startups. This is also a direction that SMEs are heading towards in Italy and Spain. 

Venturing with startups, new venture building, and intrapreneurship, is, in fact, one of the best ways to carry out open innovation. These activities allow a typical, slow-moving corporate “dinosaur” to access the agility and speed of a startup.”

Experts at the event pointed out that this is why VCs and Private Equity are now having to compete with the capabilities and investment power of corporate venturing units. 

A recent article in Sifted – the new-media site from Financial Times points out that strategic venturing investments can yield average returns of 3x – and are well above most VCs’ performance. These show clear motivation and explanation of WHY to embark on venturing as a corporate. 

Regarding the HOW, the smartest companies at Corporate Entrepreneurship are making it happen from the inside out, working on having the type of corporate culture that is open to and brings out ideas from its own workforce. They are investing in multiple ways, understanding carefully which startups are best to acquire, which to build on their own, and which to invest in through a CVC unit.

It all comes down to cultural and strategic fit. Cultural fit is not only inclusive of the startup or project being launched but the body of talent within an organization. Many sessions discussed how cultural change and retaining talent in the re-launch are a key part of a successful venturing plan. 

“With the “Great Resignation”, a phenomenon in which pandemic remote workers have been turning to freelance and building their own business, and employers have become one option among many for ambitious professionals, it is essential to engage and empower employees who want to be stimulated and have their ideas heard. Intrapreneurship and venturing are the way to achieve a workplace that can withstand Gen X and Z’s new mentalities”, further elaborated Cannizzo

However, not all startups can do well when brought directly into a company. Several speakers assumed that sometimes the best integration between a company and its venture is not to integrate, only giving it fuel (in the form of infrastructure and financing) and leaving them “alone” to innovate alongside the mother company until its able to truly integrate the solutions. 

Practically speaking, this implies that companies must face the legacy of the pandemic economy by focusing more on competencies, cutting redundancy, and improving efficiency. 

As professors on the panel “How to Thrive in the New Normal: Academic Perspectives” coordinated by the Founder and Managing Partner of GELLIFY Michele Giordani, pointed out, business leaders also must have a clear vision on the level of interdependency with the innovation ecosystem and prepare to manage extraordinary, currently unknown problems. 

They need to know which new battles to prepare for, which young companies will disrupt incumbent dinosaurs, and create “antibodies” by employing disruptive resources. The common refrain was that the success of innovation units in the new economy hinges upon their ability to pursue corporate entrepreneurship models including, venture builders, CVC, intrapreneurship, and cross-innovation, which are not only related to creating value for the corporate but also future assets.

One of the sessions at the event deliberated on the role of governments in fostering or hindering open innovation.​ Participants hailed UAE’s efforts, supportive policies, and the culture of the nation which has been encouraging the innovation environment thus positioning the country among the world’s top leaders of innovation developing a type of thinking that encourages experimentation and taking well-thought-out risks to achieve the goals of UAE Centennial 2071.

Speaking at the event, Kai Ling Ting, Head of Innovation of Etihad Aviation Group commented, “What’s really unique about the UAE is that we have a strong government push to rally all the players in the market to help drive the evolution of the innovation sector and the growth of startups. We are attracting quality global startups into Abu Dhabi with attractive funding opportunities and support schemes in the market. It’s a really exciting time, as we have the backing of the government combined with the support of the corporates in the private sector to make sure that Abu Dhabi becomes a thriving innovation hub.” 

GELLIFY partners, including the law firm Gianni & Origoni and tax consultancy firm Pirola Pennuto Zei & Associati, provided expertise on IP and M&A processes that can help companies protect against disruption. 

To learn more about the event and the ongoing initiatives and to download Gellify’s latest research “The 4W’s of Corporate Venturing” visit:

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