Forming a Relationship

Relationships lead to trust. Trust leads to sharing. Sharing leads to progress.

How many “trusting relationships” do you have with people in industry or the entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Think of your most productive academic collaborations. One key element is the free flow of ideas that allow each participant to build off of each other’s expertise to solve challenging problems.  Working with industry or start-ups is very similar.  The key difference is that the problem you are trying to solve is not purely technical/scientific – rather you are trying to fill an unmet need in the marketplace with a new product or service.  This requires collaboration with people that have a different set of skills (market research, business, etc.), but the hallmarks of a successful collaboration are the same – open, honest communication, respect for each other’s skills, and focus on a common goal.

To be successful commercializing your idea, it is critical to create trusting relationships with the people that will collaborate with you to move your ideas forward.  This requires time – mostly to invest in making the relationship work – but if done properly, it will make all the difference.

How to get started?
If you feel that you have no connections in the proper field – that is probably not true.  If you think hard enough you are bound to come up with a classmate, relative, or friend of a friend.  Social networking tools are very helpful in this regard.  It is very helpful to start with someone you know or that is within one or two degrees of separation because the trust is built into the network of common connections.

At OTD we work hard at building a strong network of industry representatives and entrepreneurs.  We can help you get connected through our personal connections, database, and mentoring program.

Formalizing the Relationship
Once the proper “champions” are identified through networking, then we can work with you to help formalize the relationship.  This can take several forms.  If you are working with industry then the relationship may be formalized through a Sponsored Research Agreement, Material Transfer Agreement or License to the Intellectual Property.  If you are working to create a new company then the relationship may be formalized through company formation, Equity Agreements, and a business strategy the defines the roles of each participant.  The OTD staff can help you navigate this process and recommend actions and timing of those actions that are consistent with the overall strategy.