Big corporations need to work more closely with start-ups in Tech City and the rest of the UK in order to be innovative and successful, according to a group of experts speaking at a KPMG event this week.

The event, held in Shoreditch on Wednesday night and attended by several large corporations including Barclays and Tesco, highlighted that enterprises can stagnate if they don’t work with new companies that have fresh ideas and different perspectives. 

Adam Bates, head of creative thinking at KPMG, said the large firms that do well are those that “flip orthodoxies on their head” instead of sticking with well-rehearsed practices.

“Big companies need help and there’s something about the environment in London’s Tech City that I think can be enormously beneficial to them,” said Bates.

He encouraged large businesses to form relationships with start-ups through initiatives such as investment programmes and company open days. He pointed to Samsung, Rio Tinto and Unilever as examples of large firms that are doing this well, before asking Barclays and Tesco to explain their attitude towards start-ups. 

Arian Lewis, Barclays head of strategic partnerships, said that the extent to which large corporations liaise with start-ups is a really important conversation for the UK at the moment, adding that it could have a significant benefit on the economy.

“We can’t innovate ourselves into the future,” he said. “We have to partner with and collaborate with start-ups and entrepreneurs that have a good vision of what’s going to transpire in the next decade or so.”

Indeed, the 323-year-old bank has recently held an open innovation day in order to address 80 of the firm’s biggest challenges and particularly those around big data, developer ecosystems, architecture and customer experience innovations. The event was attended by 152 companies.

“We have a lot of opportunities that we haven’t tapped yet and we’re looking for start-ups to provide solutions,” said Lewis.

Meanwhile, Tesco innovation ambassador, Paul Wilkinson, said that the supermarket giant is looking at start-ups that can offer everything from in-store 3D printers, to make items like toys on demand, to internal location technologies that alert shoppers if they walk past something they have on their shopping list. 

In order to find new technologies that can benefit shoppers and employees, Tesco is sponsoring a new start-up space in Central London called Rain Making Loft, which Techworld visited in October.  

Wilkinson revealed that Tesco is already in discussions with two retail-focused tech start-ups at Rain Making Loft but was unable to reveal their names at this stage.