Coopetition is the act of cooperation between competing companies, businesses that engage in both competition and cooperation are said to be in coopetition. Certain businesses gain an advantage by using a judicious mixture of cooperation with suppliers, customers, and firms producing complementary or related products and services. 


Benefits of Coopetition to Companies 

The most common sector that acts in coopetition is the technology industry. Cooperation between competitors allows for hardware and software synergies. Many start-ups, especially in the technology industry, are competing in a similar market but have unique advantages. Two competitors may have complementary strengths, and a coopetition agreement can be formed to share common gains.  


Real-world Example of Coopetition 

“On March 17, 2020, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) announced a collaboration to jointly develop a COVID19 vaccine. The coopetition agreement between the two companies increased the manufacturing capacity to meet the global supply for the vaccine, such that the companies were able to produce millions of vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and hundreds of millions of additional doses in 2021.” 


Coopetition is not just for NASDAQ listed corporates  

  • Market penetration – Many small and midsize businesses have good reach in their local markets, but outside that geographic area they are not well known. Yet, they may have other strengths they can bring to bear. Coopetition facilitates market penetration; by working collaboratively with organisations within your target markets, you bring more complete solutions to those customers. 
  • Market development – Market development is about providing more complete solutions for customers you already have. Many organizations have one or two specialties they handle very well, but they may be unable to help customers with needs outside those concentrations. By entering a coopetition relationship with an organization that delivers services you lack, you can serve the customers you already have in more ways. 
  • Product development – Two heads are better than one, so if your organisation is looking for ways to innovate and develop new products to meet a customer need, coopetition is a way to build on what others in your industry are doing. Two competitors can work collaboratively to develop new offerings, using the solutions and expertise both have already developed. 
  • Diversification – We all know that we should not put all our eggs in one basket. Industries grow and evolve over time. Diversification is a defence against change, as it allows your business to move into related industries so that you are not overly dependent on one revenue stream. Coopetition can allow your business to diversify, by working with others in related industries. 


Coopetition may not be for everyone. However if you are willing to think outside of the box it can change the rules in your firms’ favour. It allows SMEs and SMBs to combine their expertise with that of others to create a more complete solution for customers. Competitors become collaborators, who develop solutions that allow everyone – including the customer – to win.