Finding a business partner is merely a small step in the commercialisation journey. From here on, the relationship needs to be managed to ensure it is a mutually beneficial one. Wasting time with mismatched partnerships is particularly harmful to those looking to commercialise medical devices or any technology device for that matter. It may significantly delay the development process, which in turn delays the regulatory process and the release date of the device. Consider the following points in managing a business relationship:
Ensure the right agreements are in place before commencing any sort of transaction or discussion. You may want to hire a lawyer to draft one, however make sure you engage the right lawyer as some are more experienced in this than others. This may involve signing non-disclosure agreements to ensure company secrets or commercially sensitive information can be freely discussed between parties. You don’t want to be burned by the other party by not having the right agreement in place.
Clearly communicate your expectations with the relationship. Again, this may be supported further by agreements depending on the type of relationship. For instance, you may require a distribution agreement for each district and distributor you are dealing with. License agreements, shareholder agreements, marketing agreements and various market entry agreements such as: joint ventures, partnerships, etc. are also common for medical devices. In the instance that the other party is not living up to the contractual agreement, it may be necessary to walk away or send warning notices. This is something a legal advisor will manage on your behalf.
This is an obvious one, but both parties need to gain something for the relationship to be worth pursuing. Think of your weaknesses and how the partner can help. Think of their weaknesses and how you can help.
The relationship should be a collaborative one where both parties communicate on a consistent basis, sharing issues and solving problems if necessary. Schedule monthly or weekly meetings as required to catch-up. Meet face to face to strengthen the relationship.
Be willing to give and receive honest feedback. Business networks are increasingly important in the medical device industry. You never know which contacts both parties may have that may be useful to the other.
If you have no clue how to manage relationships such as joint ventures, partnerships, etc. – seek assistance.
Commercialisation consultants from Inner Maven can assist in finding and managing business relationships and can also refer you to the appropriate legal advisors.