5 Tips For Finding the Right Industry Partner

By | collaboration, corporate R&D, open innovation, tech transfer | No Comments
Date: November 07, 2016 Posted by: Elysia Cooper In:Tips for Startups

We know you don’t need convincing about the benefits of industry collaboration, so it’s less a question of if, and rather more about how to find the right partner and negotiate a good deal. In terms of teeing things up and starting the dialogue, here are five important things to do that can help you get there more efficiently: 

Map Your Gaps

For a partnership between and early-stage technology company and an industry partner to really pay off, it needs to work for both sides. With financial investors, the goal is fairly straight forward: they put x money in and seek x in return via trade, sale, or IPO. But prospective industry partners, it is a strategic interest; with the goal of using your technology in their products for the markets they serve. 

First, do yourselves a favor and do a real gap analysis to figure out what it is that you need that a partner can bring to the table directly. For example, work out the broad areas of your development plan. Strategic partners want to know the development plan e.g., the purchase of equipment, hiring consultants or funding a lease, etc. There is a chance the partner can provide these directly and get to you faster than raising money and procuring. You also get things that are tough to acquire, i.e., first customers, regulatory knowledge, scale-up insights and so forth. Below is a link to an example of a one-page results summary for an H2 storage technology company. 

Think (and write) Like a Tech Scout 

Tech scouts are bombarded with technology offerings and exciting new inventions. Cut through the noise by doing the following:

Explain product’s value proposition, the needs it fills, and what it replaces in the market
The most effective way to get tech scouts attention is to give them specific examples of how you improve on existing market solutions. Use an attention grabber – a simple statement that impresses and supports why your technology/company deserves a deeper look. Within the constraints of non-confidential information, don’t be afraid to get very technical about what makes your technology so good, and how it’s different.

Technology description
Clearly state the development stage – proof-of concept, lab results, market-ready, and so forth. Don’t forget to mention what markets are you targeting and how large they are. It’s good to mention the advantages your technology has over the status quo and competitors. Note regulatory requirements to be met, if any, to bring your technology to market. State achieved milestones nice and loud, including any funding or awards received and any important publications – they are great proof of your commitment and help validate your concept and business model. 

Make your collaboration goal nice and clear
Finding the right industry partner for an emerging technology company is much more like dating than finding VC money, and don’t forget why: prospective industry partners are interested in long-term strategic benefits from the technology. Make sure they really know what’s so great about what you have, and what you want from an industry partner.

You can talk about the funding you’re looking for, but unless you connect it to development tasks so that a tech scout can understand it – you’re missing a huge opportunity. Keep the collaboration goal simple to reflect what your want to achieve from the partnership – look at the gap analysis you did, e.g., seeking a partner to test integration of your product or material into finished good.

Limit your text
Be merciless with editing text: make your message lean and mean – and get it on one page – okay maybe two. No one has the time to read through lots of text – especially if they’re not yet sure about the potential fit. Stick to bullet points whenever possible (and not six lines long!), and make liberal use of tables, graphs and images.

Compile a Potential Partner List

Most startups can produce an overwhelmingly long list in 20 minutes; the trick is to put those companies in order of likeliness of a fit. To do this, take some time and research their websites. It’s not just hard factors like areas of interests, targeted markets, key innovation resources, but also their vision and culture. See where they have research relationships, or from where they have licensed in technology. It will not only be easier to collaborate with people who share your values, but you might also avoid potential misunderstandings.

Protect Your IP

Trust is a very important part of every successful partnership, but at the same time you need to make sure that your IP is properly protected. Never disclose any sensitive information before signing an NDA. If you’re affiliated with an institution, ask the Technology Transfer Office if they have a ready-to-go form or download our free form of mutual (two-way) NDA to be used with prospective partners.

Reach Out Strategically

Tech scouts come in all stripes, but they are often very hard to get through. Use any common point you have, shared contacts via LinkedIn, industry associations, academic connections and so forth.

When a partnership has been launched regular meetings should be scheduled to allow strong two-way communication between you and your industry partner. Follow-ups and feedback is a best way to avoid failure of the partnership you spent so much time establishing. Any questions? Just drop us a note

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By | collaboration, open innovation, Uncategorized | No Comments

Cut through the noise to reach industry technology watch

For technology commercialization professionals, trying to expand their network by reaching out directly to industry tech scouts poses many challenges. Corporate technology watch is bombarded with messages from technology transfer offices, specialized networks, technology search consultants and people promoting deals.

Anyone in the business of commercializing technology has to contend with a lot of other people’s messages, and that means noise. It’s not noise because other people’s messages are junk, but because they compete with attention for the technology topic you’re trying to talk about with a potential licensee or corporate partner, and may create confusion regarding your topic.

So, when they do take a look, how do you ramp up probability of follow-through?

Rather than trying to tackle the whole problem in one little post, here are 3 tips to help you motivate tech scouts to pick up the phone.

1. Make sure the message is brief

Your technology summary needs to rely on very limited text and needs to fit on a page – letter or A4 – or its web equivalent. Forget about multiple pages or 10 turns of the mouse wheel. Making your message partly graphical is also really helpful – using a table, chart or image or two. State development needs so they’re clear and easy to read. If there’s something else to say that’s really essential, but lengthy, put it in as a link.

2. Explain both technology & the economic/competitive argument

Though simply summarizing the technical part of the innovation may register in the tech scout’s mind, tying it to an economic or competitive argument makes it a far more memorable connection. Of course, not all inventions are cheaper, so lower cost may not be one of your arguments at all. Not to worry. Better performance, higher reliability or greater ease of use are all valid competitive arguments. Just as lower production cost makes an innovation competitive, improved performance, reliability or usability can be just very powerful drivers depending on the application vs. what’s currently in the market.

Example 1: Reduces toxic solvent use by 35% with no increase in production costs

Example 2: Single inoculation eliminates patient compliance risk

Example 3: Better durability of coating increases accessible market 300%

3. Lay out next development steps, related resources & timing

For a tech scout, reading about a technology may be enough to get their interest. But you want more, you want follow-up so you can assess fit – and not for your profile to go into the dreaded “also-interesting-pile.”

Tech scouts are just like the rest of us, they’re trying to manage time efficiently, and that means figuring where to spend time and money. So the more clearly you can show the tech scout the current plan for the support for transfer, and potential plan for development and commercialization, the higher the likelihood of follow-up.

Show next steps roadmap: On-going research, development tasks, available resources 

Tech transfer relating to a patent whose lead researchers are available and active in the field has much better prospects for transfer than one whose PIs are gone. When you have that situation, be sure to take advantage of it!

So, if the PI/team who did the patent app that you’re summarizing is available, make that loud and clear. Provide a link to the researcher’s site. But not just yet.

First, summarize the development steps in broad strokes, with associated estimate of time & money.

Example 1: Follow-on bench testing of service life; 4 to 6 months; cost of $25K – 30K
Example 2: Build larger capacity demonstration tool; 8 months; cost of $100K
Example 3: Write protocol for 510(k) study for Class II & III medical device; cost of $50K

Writing next steps for a technology might seem harder than for a startup, so treat it as a technology startup! If you’re not sure what the next steps are, drop the PI an email and ask for how the team would use a $500K grant in three or four bullet points.

And…your startups & spinouts can bring still more and relevant industry traffic to your website. 

Last but not least. Early-stage companies that are licensees or research partners of your institution are a great way to showcase the commercial focus of your research activities and the IP that comes out of it. We’ll walk you through how to leverage your spinouts and startups to bring more industry inquiries in this free eBook.


By | collaboration, emerging technology, open innovation | No Comments

seedsprint announces the public launch of its open innovation platform, bringing together industry partners and high-quality technologies spun out of leading scientific research at universities and laboratories. seedsprint is like a speed-dating service, quickly clearing the path for potential partners to figure out for themselves if there’s a fit.

Based on extensive testing with corporate tech scouts, seedsprint combines a searchable data base of highly-structured, non-confidential profiles with an internal messaging and work-process system. Users from either side can initiate contact, and move quickly and privately from reviewing non-confidential profiles, to private messaging, to secure exchange of due diligence materials.


seedsprint is free for institutions and young companies and available to corporate subscribers at a flat annual fee. Without transaction fees or intermediaries, seedsprint stays completely neutral.


In development for two years, seedsprint’s expanding network includes paid subscribers from industry such as CelaneseClariantDSMMerck GroupStryker and the fuel-cell JV of Daimler and Ford, AFCC.


Currently, about 60 leading university research centers, labs, incubators and accelerators, from the US, Australia, Europe, Israel and Mexico are platform members. US-based seedsprint is actively opening up to European membership and recently added Norway’s NTNU, whose Kavli Institute is home to Nobel-laureate couple, Drs. May-Britt & Edvard Moser, winners of the 2014 Physiology/Medicine prize.


To meet the high standards of corporate subscribers, startups and technology profiles are published by invitation only. With seedsprint’s profile-builder, users create and publish compact, actionable, and technically-informative summaries within minutes. Typically, members refer affiliated startups to profile themselves, and licensors can create profiles of selected technologies, available for development.


Jon Lillian, seedsprint’s founder, developed and launched the platform to respond to a basic challenge for industry technology watch: figuring out early on if a project is worth a deep-dive review. “Years of advisory engagements with industry clients kept revealing a big need: ability to have sufficient information to determine if a project looks to be worth a costly ‘deep-dive review.’” The key was to integrate non-confidential profiles with enough technical detail to be actionable, and link the directory to a streamlined process with secure communications and due diligence. You go from the profile review, to private messaging and NDA negotiation, to due diligence, with encrypted, online data rooms. We check profiles for sufficiency, but otherwise stay out of the way, so subscribers and technology teams can do their jobs and see if there’s a fit.


Free for startups and universitiescorporate subscribers pay a flat annual fee, and no per-seat charges.