A cooperation strategy strikes a balance between internal growth and growth from the acquisition of other companies. Several studies in the USA have proved that fast-growing start-ups sometimes use cooperation with other small firms, and sometimes with large, established firms.
This cooperation is of various types. Licensing is a typical strategy in the biotech industry, for example. Small biotech start-ups generally do not have the necessary complementary resources (cf. Teece 1986) to carry new drugs through all the test phases and then to market them. Such firms often sell licenses to established pharmaceutical firms (the danger of this strategy will be dealt with “Inadequate or incorrect marketing”) Other cooperation strategies, such as Research and Development cooperation, or outsourcing production, are possible. Cooperation strategies are pursued more frequently where there are networks of start-ups (cf. Lechner 2001).
Although new firms can gain the complementary resources they lack through cooperation, they still need basic competences in root technologies and key functions. In a study of high-tech start-ups in the USA, McGee et al. (1995) showed that the start-ups which grew fastest were those which pursued cooperation strategies to build on strengths, and not to compensate for weaknesses.