Case Studies in Knowledge Intensive Entrepreneurship
Edited by Maureen McKelvey and Astrid Heidemann Lassen
Chapter 11: Building collaborative network relationships: the case of a corporate spin-off in the medical technology industry
This case study is about Otocare Ltd, a European corporate spin-off company in the medical technology (‘medtech’) industry, and focuses on the building of network relationships with different types of external actors. It is well known that in business-to-business markets trading to a large extent takes place within more or less close and long-term business relationships (between sellers and buyers). In addition, such relationships are frequently used for the purpose of technological innovation. In that context, besides interacting with business partners, collaboration with academia may be necessary in order to gain access to new knowledge and competence. For natural reasons, the KIE start-up companies created, for example, to commercialize new inventions, to a large extent lack this type of relationships when they are founded. Therefore, during the early phase of their development major efforts typically have to be made in order to build relationships. The present case study thus addresses the issue of relationship-building from the perspective of a corporate spin-off. For example, why is the building of collaborative relationships with external actors important to corporate start-ups? Which are the most important types of partners and why? What type of problems and difficulties may the companies encounter in their networking? Otocare, now sold to another firm, manufactured and marketed a unique, bone-anchored hearing aid invented jointly by technical and medical researchers. It uses a metallic implant in combination with a hearing device attached to the implant on the outside of the head. The idea behind the bone-anchored hearing aid had arisen at a university hospital,
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