R&D Alliances

To excel in innovation and market performance, corporate R&D planning requires companies to perform co-operative R&D and to establish technological collaborations, joint development agreements, and other kinds of R&D partnerships in order to share resources with one or more other organisations and thus reduce the cost of their R&D activities.

Alliances include joint research activities, technology co-development, contract research, and licensing. Strategic research partnerships, a subset of these interactions, emphasise joint R&D activities as opposed to contract research or other financing or exchange transactions. They can take the form of formal joint ventures or more informal agreements.

Azione works with companies on developing:

  • Research joint ventures
  • Cooperative R&D agreements
  • Strategic technology alliances

These alliances present unique coordination challenges. Successful knowledge transfer is not assured, and the organisation form may affect how much companies reap from collaborations as the form can influence both the ability and willingness of partners to share R&D costs, pool risks, and access complementary technologies, scientific and technical capabilities, and commercialisation resources.

Some alliances focus on exploitation – building on internal knowledge with an external partner’s specific capabilities. Other alliances emphasise exploration – tapping external knowledge to help investigate directions that are new to the company. When selecting external partners, companies tend to value diversity for exploration and complementarities for exploitation.

Exploitation-based alliances with university partners are common. Companies use public research to improve products and increase its market share, whereas for universities, the research creates knowledge that provides new findings and potential scientific breakthroughs. Companies also tend to expect concrete results in their R&D work with universities.

Linking with external entities is a key element of exploration-based alliances. Competitors, upstream suppliers or downstream customers, national laboratories, and academic institutions are potential R&D alliance partners. These alliances provide access to knowledge not existing within the company.