When managing a business, if you are trying to build new growth products, business models or solutions, your ability to find and working with partners can be a very powerful source of competitive edge and it also can help boost innovation at your company. In this article, we take a look at how partnering with startups can boost innovation at your company.

Seeking the right collaborator will boost the innovation of your business. Sopra Steria, a Paris-based IT firm specialized in digital transformation, reported that their activities by Sopra Steria Scale up, an ecosystem-based innovation project, created three times the output they generated internally over a year.

But how can you decide who will be working with? So how are you making these latest collaborations working? We have been researching how businesses function in environments to co-create new interest, both with familiar as well as unfamiliar collaborators. This experience enabled us to recognize some of the best methods, including how to recognise unique collaborators, how to train them for working together, as well as how to make the relationship last. The recent project of Sopra Steria in Equipment Risk Assessment for Norway’s Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital (SRH) is one of several dozen case studies we have researched that displays some of these methods.

SRH has been a Sopra Steria customer for several years before it approached Sopra Steria to aid streamline the health review of emerging hospital equipment — detectors, monitoring systems, portable lung ventilators and so on. Once this equipment arrive at the facility, the protection experts will determine the threats involved with its operation, including safety, adherence with privacy laws (GDPR), and alignment of the equipment with the current IT infrastructure. Every human assessment usually takes about 100 hours, and is an unorganized manual operation.

Sopra Steria did not have the ability internally to carry out this task on its own — and decided with SRH that a third entity would be hired to collaborate for Sopra Steria and SRH. Here’s how Sopra Steria Scale is going to build the relationship in three ways:

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Phase 1: Identify the most important issue to fix.

Productive ecosystem relationships are focused on a clear comprehension of the issue to be addressed by the client or collaborator, rather than a simple belief or after-the-fact justification for an ecosystem.

SRH decided that safety management was a field where scarce services were being lost. Given Norway’s strong standards of health care system and an anticipated wave of new hospital devices arriving at the hospitals, SRH calculated that no tools for off-the-shelf risk analysis were a good fit.

Sopra Steria launched a design work to know the actual needs of SRH, in response to the client’s requirements. SRH narrowed down its own risk management method into a series of 40 separate tasks and outlined pressure points it needed to address. Then, the two companies listed the important pain points which, if resolved, could unleash the most value. As a result, they evaluated that SRH required a procedure tool to decrease evaluation time as well as allow for cooperation across various hospitals.

Phase 2: Make prospective partners aware of the issue.

Always focusing on established partners can yield inadequate results, as these partners will only offer known capabilities for you. While it is reassuring to rely on known capabilities, it will shorten your search space and keep you from recognising non-obvious alternatives.

They put all the skills that you didn’t think you wanted when you introduce what we consider uncommon friends. The issue is perhaps uncommon partners who don’t know you demand them. And if you’d like to include a combination of common and uncommon partners in your environment, you need to choose the uncommon partners.

Sopra Steria, for instance, lacks the internal resources to solve the problem of SRH itself. It developed an event named the Sopra Steria Scale up Challenge to recognise a partner that had those abilities, bringing together 30 start-ups.

Relationship

Start-ups selected by adhering to Sopra Steria’s open request to help overcome the SRH problem. The catchphrase of this call was “SRH has a risk analysis issue: kindly come if you believe you have a plan, or part of a plan to simplify risk analysis. Even if you’ve never worked in health care system. “Sopra Steria made the announcement in a range of channels: straight to start-ups those they already knew, indirectly via a set of incubators and accelerators newsletters, and a 45-second film discussing the SRH challenge uploaded on the social networks of Sopra Steria.

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The ecosystem itself has in fact been another way of spreading the word. Multiple startups also inspired many other startups to join in the event of Scale-up Challenge inside their own channels.

At the event, the start-ups got to listen to a speech from SRH that defined its problem areas in the risk analysis process in depth. They then had 10 days to send a short questionnaire that quickly outlined their skills, past assignments, and what they might require from Sopra Steria to support the customer. Eight start-ups sent proposals, and Sopra Steria picked three candidates from them.

Phase 3: Match with partners who are willing to cross the gap.

One familiar mistake made by partners is to assume that they might work well together on the basis of the synergies anticipated, without taking into account any significant cultural, functional, and knowledge gaps. Good collaborations identify not only the capacity requirements but also how to bridge the distinctions between them.

Sopra Steria Scale up assessed both the technological approaches of the start-ups as well as their possible match with SRH while finding the winner of the three finalists, a significant consideration given the unavoidable variations in culture and working procedures. The community and organizational sense of SRH was assessed by a survey on “start-up readiness.” Sopra Steria also evaluated the “company preparedness” of each start-up candidate via interviews and surveys.

For 2 reasons, the winning team, a startup named “Nordic Analysis,” stood out from others. It did have the correct skills at first. It has already created a method based on the cloud to manage organized data from unorganized sources. Second, it provided the perception of being the most able to change and address the operational and cultural obstacles to the requirements of the public sector customer.

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Phase 4: Successful contract.

Partners typically spend lots of time working out complicated contracts to facilitate the partnership. They risk losing confidence and damaging the project when they advocate for dividing the interest that is not yet generated.

For our instance, the agreement was made up in two phases. The partners first created a “basic initial deal” with the objective of delivering a minimum viable product ( MVP). The contract described the responsibilities, commitments of stakeholders, and project milestones; it stated that the business plan and the distribution of potential profits would be later determined. The contract enabled stakeholders build confidence as it represented an equitable multiparty relationship where each decided to spend a third of the time and expense.

When the MVP was made, the partners then strengthened the original basic contract by making an agreement on the business strategy. They decided to get their savings repaid by granting permits to other hospitals.

The resulting approach from this partnership was a cloud-based standardized risk management method for medical equipment that can be connected to current systems in other medical centers. This ensures that if a medical expert in an SRH hospital decides to test a lung ventilator that was already assessed by a specialist in another SRH hospital, they will replicate portions of the tests in the other hospital. The strengthened structuring of the risk management framework plus the ability to exchange reviews has increased by an additional 20-30 per cent the time required to allow the usage of modern hardware, which ensures that the hardware will be implemented more rapidly.

The four-step method that we have explained is replicable across several project types, and every time a company goes through the procedure it develops and enhances its ecosystem.

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