What does telecommunications company KPN offer start-ups?

Offering an integrated approach to growing its business via start-up collaboration

25 European Corporate Startup Stars reveals which large companies are doing the most to support new firms. These case studies highlight some specific examples of active and successful collaboration between corporates and start-ups.

A good example of…

Entrepreneurial culture

European Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands

Geographical reach: Netherlands, Europe, US

Sector/s of interest: Internet of things, smart home, e-health, cyber security, cloud services and big data

Works with start-ups through:

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    • Start-up events, lab days, workshops and expert sessions
    • Partnerships with corporates, accelerators, investors and government
    • Launching pilot projects and strategic co-operations
    • KPN Ventures, a €70m corporate investment fund
    • A number of ICT acquisitions

Why does KPN work with start-ups?

The Dutch telecom and ICT company KPN works with start-ups to connect with entrepreneurial talent and gain early access to technological innovations. KPN aims to build partnerships with innovative technology companies to solve business challenges and bring new products and services to the market, creating value for its residential and professional customers.

How does KPN work with start-ups?

KPN has a varied and well-integrated programme to foster collaboration with start-ups in the Internet of Things (IoT), smart home, e-health, cyber security and big data sectors.

The teams at KPN Ventures and KPN New Business actively engage with start-ups and scale-ups. To bring corporates, start-ups and governments together, KPN creates innovative events and partnership arrangements, as well as strategic investments and acquisitions.

Imaginative collaborations demonstrate KPN’s desire to work with start-ups in new ways. For example, KPN invests in and procures from the French IoT start-up Actility in a way that builds KPN’s IoT infrastructure while developing Actility’s network of influence. Another collaboration is with Parkbee, which has turned KPN’s underused car parking spaces into a new revenue stream.

What has KPN done to facilitate collaboration with start-ups?

KPN demonstrates its commitment to working with start-ups on two levels: through a wide range of activities and collaborations with early-stage companies, and through a genuine desire to improve their own internal processes and foster an entrepreneurial culture.

Partnerships with corporates, accelerators, investors and the Dutch government enable KPN to tap into the start-up ecosystem and offer an appealing range of services and resources to small businesses. The appointment of a start-up liaison officer has also helped bring start-ups into the company.

In 2015, KPN decided to increase procurement from start-ups and requested that its suppliers do the same. The organisation also offers faster payment terms for start-ups, and currently spends 2% to 3% of its total procurement budget on start-ups and scale-ups, which it aims to increase to ten per cent within the coming years.

Success story: ParkBee

Parkbee is an imaginative new start-up, based in the Netherlands, which enables private car parking spaces – such as those in hotels and offices – to be made available to the public. These can then be booked through the Parkmobile app.

KPN’s start-up liaison officer facilitated a deal with Parkbee to make use of KPN’s spare car parking spaces. This ‘win-win’ relationship gave KPN an innovative new revenue stream and Parkbee an impactful new partner.

“KPN has allocated substantial funds to start-up collaboration and used these to develop a rich level of integration. This is a great achievement.”

Dolf Wittkamper, Corporate Startup Stars judge

What can other corporates learn from KPN about working with start-ups?

  • Access to new talent and technologies can be gained by connecting with a wide range of people and organisations – for example, entrepreneurs, investors, accelerator programmes and educational institutes
  • Changes to internal processes, such as creating quicker payment structures, makes it easier for start-ups to work with large companies and corporations
  • To have real impact, KPN believes that start-ups must have a proof of concept. Pilots can play a key role to offer more room for experimenting and co-creation


What is KPN looking for from the start-ups it works with?

For commercial and strategic partnerships, KPN looks for innovative technology companies in the areas of: IoT, smart home, e-health, cyber security, cloud services and big data. These should have a proof of concept and be able to bring value to KPN and/or its customers.

For equity investments, KPN looks for entrepreneurial teams with a unique, innovative technology product or service, showing commercial traction (€500k+ revenues), big market potential and the ability to create value, in the sectors mentioned above.

How can start-ups get involved with KPN?

For more information on KPN ventures and its investment criteria, see www.kpnventures.com or email kpnventures@kpn.com.

Start-ups interested in co-development or KPN as a customer can email Marie-José van den Boomgaard, liaison manager for start-ups, at marie-jose.vandenboomgaard@kpn.com.

For information on KPN’s activities and events with start-ups, please follow KPN on Twitter at @kpnnewbusiness and @kpnventures.

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Image courtesy of SVC2UK CEO Summit 2015.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644104.


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