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Partnering with startups – how can the third sector do this effectively?

Posted by Natasha Howard-Murray (Admin) Aug 24, 2020 Posted in Accelerator

Many organisations within the third sector are needing to innovate. Nesta (an innovation foundation helping to turn bold ideas into reality and change lives for the better) wanted to find out if new partnerships with startups can help tackle some of the challenges that organisations are facing.

Earlier this year, we contributed to Nesta’s new report, ‘Better Together: How startups and the third sector can collaborate’, which was published in July. We talked about the learning and experiences from our Alzheimer’s Society Accelerator Programme, where we work with startups and invest in innovations and products to help improve the lives of people affected by dementia.

Nesta describes the report as 'the first of its kind to describe how third sector organisations and startups can work together for mutual benefit. Although collaboration is difficult to get right, there is much to gain when the two worlds align.'

The aim of the report is to help the third sector and startups:

  • Understand the value of collaborating and assess whether it is right for them.
  • Identify the necessary steps to prepare for, design and carry out collaborations – and the key challenges to anticipate.
  • Learn from the experience of others – featuring examples from our Innovation team’s work at Alzheimer’s Society, Friends of the Earth, the Children’s Society, Versus Arthritis and others.

Together we create

From this report, we will be looking at the recommendations shared and consider how we may integrate some of these to improve our innovation offer at Alzheimer's Society. For example, having a dedicated Innovation trustee could help in encouraging innovation further at the organisation. Someone with experience in this field and an understanding of the benefit of working with startups could help to champion the importance of innovation and new partnership opportunities across the organisation.

Through our Accelerator Programme, we have learnt a great deal from our partners with each bringing their own creativity and mix of skills to the programme, our team and organisation. By working with these startups, we can harness the development of new and exciting ideas, products and services that can help to improve more aspects of people’s lives and wellbeing. We encourage our partners to involve people affected by dementia by connecting them through our networks. Together, they build and test the innovations, making their end products more successful, accessible and beneficial to people affected by dementia. It is inspiring to see the passion that they have in making sure their creation gets straight into the hands of the people who need them most.

Want to find out more?

  • You can read more about our 2019/2020 Accelerator partners here.
  • If you have any questions about the report, please contact Charlotte Reypens at

This post was edited on Sep 4, 2020 by Natasha Howard-Murray

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