Interested in an industry partnership for your emerging tech company? Before you start your next conversation, read on for tips about how to approach an industry partnership.
Understand who manages industry partnerships on the industry side
Most often, startups work with technology scouts to forge a partnership. Tech scouts are the drivers of open innovation for their companies. Many companies seek to increase R&D productivity, and tech scouts help them do so by building relationships outside the company.
A tech scout may have a straightforward title like “Corporate Technology Scout” or something less straightforward like “Director of Corporate Research.” At some companies, a tech scout may have another role as well, dividing their time between business development and tech scouting, or tech scouting and internal R&D.
For smaller enterprise, open innovation may be entirely new, and the title “tech scout” may not be used at all.
Decide what you need from a partnership
For an industry partnership to really pay off, it needs to work for both sides. The first step is deciding what you need from a partner.
First, you need to work out the broad areas of your development plan and what type of partnership can help you achieve your goals. Joint development, contract manufacturing, and licensing are some common partnership types, though each partnership is unique. (Learn more about partnership types and the technology scouting process).
Next, draft out your development tasks. Do you need to recruit prospective users to test your product before it goes to market? Get feedback on your go-to-market strategy? Produce your product at scale?
Industry tech scouts want to know what goals they can help you achieve with resources like equipment, consultants, and lab space. Remember to think about intangibles that you need for growth, not just physical equipment or services. These include product testing, customer relationships, regulatory knowledge, scale-up insights, and more.
Learn about what potential industry partnerships can offer
You don’t want to put in time and effort courting a partner who doesn’t have the right resources to offer. Many startups can produce a long list of potential industry partners in just a few minutes. The trick is to reach out to the right person at the right company in the right way.
Many companies have “partnering” pages on their websites. Companies that are interested in partnering with startups are usually open about their areas of interest, target markets, and key innovation resources. But, if you don’t want to bounce from site to site all day, you could simply log onto instead to see all these resources in one place.
Network with potential partners
For more information about how to connect with tech scouts, check out our past post on the subject. Ready for a conversation? Make sure you know the right lingo and then search for and message tech scouts on that are looking for startup partners.