– Boston Consulting Group survey (2017)
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Large enterprises are always striving make operations more efficient and offer better products. One way they can achieve this is through internal research and development (R&D).
Another way is through startup partnerships and technology licensing – that's "open innovation." (Read more about the history of the term.)
Open innovation is becoming more common as industries shift and companies strive to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
For example, think of all the decades-old car companies that are courting autonomous vehicle startups. Leading chemical companies are seeking the next big advance in sustainable chemistry. Pharmaceutical companies are seeking new patents and approaches, sometimes with a tinge of urgency as older patents expire.
What is a tech scout?
Technology scouts are the drivers of open innovation for their firms. They help increase overall R&D productivity by building relationships outside the traditional boundaires of the firm. Their job entails promising new technologies and digging deep to see what sort of strategic partnerships are possible.
A tech scout might have an obvious title like "Corporate Technology Scout" or "Senior Technology Scout." They may even be part of a tech scouting team with a strong track record of open innovation success. But at some firms, a technology scout may have another role as well – splitting time between business development and tech scouting, for example.
For smaller enterprise, open innovation may be entirely new – and the "tech scout" may hesitate to call themselves by that name at all. Yet they may still be on the looking for a startup to partner with on a new project.
There are many ways to scale a startup. For many startups, industry partnerships such as joint development, contract manufacturing, or licensing are excellent options. Startups may choose to sell patents or opt for acquisition.
An industry partner can offer strategic resources that go far beyond financing, helping both companies go father than they would alone.
Industry partners can support a technology's commercialization in kind, with extensive equipment and pilot facilities, manufacturing experience, customer and OEM relationships, and a deep knowledge of marketing strategy for your sector.
All too often, location and prior relationships determine which industry partnerships get off the ground. This poses a challenge both for startups and the tech scouts who seek them out.
There are many ways to meet tech scouts. Tech scouts often attend industry conferences to meet young companies. Many large firms have relationships with sources of innovation, such as incubators and universities, who they return to again and again for strategic partnerships. Corporations may also start their own accelerators or idea labs – or else use corporate venture capital as partnerships engine.
This traditional approach to network-building can lead to strong partnerships – but it also limited. Startups outside the tech scout's network may never get an audience, while tech scouts may hear numerous irrelevant pitches that make it harder to zero in on the right candidate.
We launched seedsprint to give both sides a more efficient, targeted platform to launch great partnerships.
Unfortunately, a common barrier to successful partnerships between startups and industry is "lack of a clear value proposition, application, and proof of concept" on the part of the startup.
Tech scouts want to know that your technology: 1. Fits a key strategic need for their company 2. Is proven and low-risk 3. Can scale with their support. In short, they need more than a copy of your investor deck.
Strategic partnerships can take many forms. Culture and structure can also vary dramatically between a startup and prospective partner. It's vital to find a partner who is communicative about their needs and expectations.
In the initial stages of communication, a startup needs to offer a clear value proposition and express their collaboration and development goals. What "readiness stage" is your technology? Which resources do you need, and which resources do you hope a partner can provide?
The prospective partner must also offer clear information, such as who the points of contact will be on their team, how the startup's technology would be used, and any cultural expecations on the part of the firm.
When both sides are proactive about sharing changes, problems, potential challenges, and successes, the partnership as a whole is more likely to be a success.
seedsprint is free for startups, and there are zero transaction fees. We stay out of your way completely – though we may suggest a potential partner match here and there.
After you sign up, you may need to wait up to 24 hours for access. We use a holistic approach to grant access to the marketplace.
Fill out a unique profile for your startup. Our profile structure helps you convey all the information that a tech scout needs to see. We developed the profile in coordination with some of the world’s leading corporate innovation managers.
You can also build an an encrypted Virtual Data Room for you to store confidential information. A potential partner must sign your NDA to access it.
Sign in any time to check your messages and browse through industry profiles in our marketplace. Spot a potential fit? Either side can start a dialogue.
When it’s time for confidential discussions, your NDA is available right from your profile.
To ensure security of account information and communications, seedsprint uses SSL [128-bit] encryption. Read more about our security policy.