Business growth through collaboration

How to set up a business collaboration


The way you set up a business collaboration can determine how successful the network might be. Progress will depend on a range of issues, including how clear and realistic the group is about their objectives, and how committed members are to working together.

Any collaboration must take into account key strategic elements to ensure that partners can work together in the long term. That may include resources, commitment, intra-organisational support, the business case, and technology.

Establishing collaborative networks

Collaborations naturally evolve over time. The table below identifies the various stages of business collaboration. It also outlines what information you might share and what activities you might undertake in each, as you build your network.

Collaboration stage What information do you share? What tasks must you carry out?
  • members typically operate in silos with only ad hoc exchanges, therefore, nothing of consequence is being shared
  • research potential market opportunities
  • scope funding support for opportunities
  • external information, eg sectoral issues or data
  • set ground rules
  • analyse capability matrix
  • set up and access online community network
  • external information, eg market opportunities
  • internal information, eg company capabilities
  • establish leadership
  • identify support
  • appoint facilitator role
  • establish full participation
  • cohesive project planning
  • network development processes
  • addressing any resourcing issues
  • establish clear goals and objectives
  • establish network processes
  • establish working practices and protocol
  • consider patents/IP
  • identify legal entity or structure
  • consider consortium models and the appropriate agreements
  • create a memorandum of understanding and draft agreements
  • carry out marketing and branding
  • identify and work with key stakeholders
  • business development and marketing
  • project management
  • identifying potential shortfalls or other pitfalls and how to overcome
  • establish frameworks and checklists for collaborative projects
  • establish organic membership protocol
  • establish tender handling process for both public sector and others
  • establish liability ownership clarity
  • up-skill network members - groups, companies and individuals
  • network management
  • allocation of members' benefits
  • network funding
  • establish licensing agreement
  • establish royalties protocol
  • create 3/5 year business plan
  • establish longer-term goals
  • carry out joint R&D
  • dedicate staffing arrangements
  • establish the location of network HQ

You should support and formalise your collaboration with the correct legal documents, which will set out agreed rules of engagement.