Arguably, in a perfect world, all innovations would be developed in-house, so you could control access more easily. However, many early stage companies with financial constraints have to seek out enterprising ways of meeting market demand as well as staying ahead of their competitors by implementing the right innovation strategy; this can often mean working with external partners.
Perhaps you have a new invention that you wish to commercialise, but do not have the finances to get it to market? Or you have identified an external solution to a current client need? Innovation is not only about creating new inventions, it describes the process, and the outcome, of bringing an invention successfully to the market – and often you may need to work with others to do this.
Whilst collaborating with others offers a great opportunity to speed up the innovation process, it’s important to manage the knowledge brought to or created by the collaborative project with care. Otherwise, it may be difficult to speak openly about, protect, commercialise or prevent future use of this knowledge. You may wish to tap into academic research expertise, license in external IP, license out your own IP rights, work with a subcontractor such as a manufacturer, designer, software engineer, photographer or website developer. In such cases, you will find that although IP rights are intangible assets, they can be used to leverage commercial value in a company just like tangible assets.
Overall, trust and knowledge are key to any successful relationship, so it is important to choose your partners wisely, conduct some basic due diligence before entering into a partnership and, wherever appropriate, put in place professionally drafted legal agreements. This Guide (contact us to download Guide: “Partnering for Commercial Advantage”) provides some pointers to areas that you need to consider.
Case studies on partnering for commercial advantage