Finding the ‘right fit’ industry partner for your startup

When you start a company to commercialize your technology, choosing to work with an industry partner can take your technology to the next level. Industry partners can help your company conduct clinical trialsprovide investmenthelp with scale-up, and much more.

However, finding a good collaboration partner is tricky, and can take time. Here are some recommendations for avoiding common pitfalls and finding better partners, fast.

Identifying the ‘right fit’ companies to collaborate with, in the first place

Finding a company to collaborate with involves more than simply identifying an established player in your industry. Ideally, a ‘right fit’ company has innovation goals in your technology area and a track record of success in partnering with companies like yours.

Understanding the industry partner’s innovation goals 

It is important to check whether the prospective partner is actively involved in research relevant to your work. Sometimes, the main websites and product pages for big industry players represent past innovation goals. Instead, look specifically for the company’s Innovation or Partnership page. These pages outline a company’s R&D objectives, corporate strategy, and innovation goals.

Additionally, these pages can even describe the partnership structures they prefer to work with. Together, evaluating these factors can help you determine if a partnership with your startup will fit well with the company’s goals going forward.

Looking at past partnerships

Further, the companies you are targeting should have experience working with companies like yours on development tasks. Some examples of development tasks include prototyping, clinical trials, and distribution.

If a company does not expressly outline its future R&D goals or preferred partnership strategy, look at a company’s recent collaborations. Deals within the past 5 years can sometimes be a good indicator of the company’s interests. Previous partnership structures are also indicative of a company’s preferred role in collaboration, whether it be as a partner in research, collaborator in testing or clinical trials, investor, or acquisition partner.

Identifying the right people at a company

Once you’ve found the right company, many startups face the obstacle of finding the right people to propel your development goals. Business development infrastructure at large companies can be complex and difficult to navigate. Here are some considerations before reaching out to technology scouts to make sure that you are contacting someone that can meaningfully contribute to your relationship with a potential partner.

Understanding area of expertise

Even within a company, technology scouts and business development professionals may have different areas of scientific or technological expertise. The diversity or specificity of a scout’s technology area is often a factor of the size and scientific breadth of the company. Smaller companies’ scouts may work with most incoming technologies, even if they do not necessarily have a background in that field. A large company’s technology scouts may be more segmented by technology area.

Understanding technology maturity

Scouts or BD officers also often work with different company maturities. At larger companies, scouts may specialize in collaborations with academia, startups, or other corporations. In smaller environments, scouts may wear many hats or take on both business development and transactions responsibilities. Their titles may also be less specific to technology sourcing and collaboration.

A scout’s georgraphical region of interest 

Some tech scouts and BD&L people are responsible for identifying exciting emerging technologies in specific regions of the world, while others are location-agnostic. It is important to pay attention to whether the scout you identified covers your region or not before reaching out.

Catching the attention of scouts at relevant companies

Scouts are often inundated with requests from technology entrepreneurs, hopeful to get their technology off of the ground. It is easy for your technology to get lost in the sea of corporate communications. So, how can you make your company stand out and get the attention of tech scouts? SeedSprint can help! SeedSprint is free of charge for startups and research institutions and is available at a flat fee for industry. You can sign up here and search scouts by keyword, maturity, and region. Happy seedsprint-ing!

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