Frustrated by the high costs of research and development? Consider a collaborative effort with a nearby college or university. It can save you money while you take advantage of state-of-the-art facilities.
Keith Baumm, 30, president of Advanced Composite Engineering, a company in Van Buren, Maine, that manufactures composite racing bicycles, uses an R&D alliance between his company and the University of Maine to refine prototypes and develop cutting-edge products. "Obviously, a company of our size [with $500,000 in annual sales] doesn't have the R&D facilities that U-Maine offers," says Baumm.
Advanced Composite Engineering builds prototypes and the university does the testing and analysis. Baumm uses the information for his company, and the school applies it to other areas, creating a win-win situation for both entities.
To forge a similar alliance for your own company, Baumm advises beginning with a clear picture of your goals and the benefits you can offer researchers. Look for institutions doing research in your field, and network until you find a decision-maker. Then present him or her with a concise but thorough business plan. "Make them aware of both your intentions and the net benefit to them," Baumm says, adding that while the process sounds tough, a well-packaged presentation can make it easy. When researchers see the benefits you offer them, they'll likely be eager to work with you.
Jacquelyn Lynn left the corporate world more than 12 years ago to write from her Winter Park, Florida, home.