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SAL’s secret sauce – Part 3


Searching for technologies and partners

Welcome to our third instalment exploring SAL’s approach to technology scouting. If you have missed the previous instalments, we have already explored how we first dive into a new search (click here to visit this article) and how we interact with our network (click here to visit this article). This week we will be talking about how we go about searching for technologies and partners.

The process of searching for technologies is usually seen as the crux of technology scouting. However, over the years we have found that the success of this stage is completely dependent on the work developed during the previous steps. The better we understand the problem and the more divergent avenues we have found to explore, the more likely it is that we will be able to find the best partners and opportunities for each particular problem.

Here at SAL, our technology searching heuristic can be summed up by two very important characteristics: it is primarily based on direct human interaction and it is an iterative process, whereby we continually improve our search efforts by distilling information from very different sources. One, if not the central, of the core tenets at Strategic Allies is the idea that “People do deals, not computers”. Our team believes that much of the innovation process nowadays is too rigid and automated and that the path to find the best opportunities and partners is best done through people. Whenever we start a new search, we share our specifications with our wide network of intermediaries and contacts, our partners around the world with whom we have worked and developed a personal relationship with. These are usually well-connected individuals in innovation hotspots who usually have vision over at least two industry sectors and usually many more.

Throughout the entire search period, our iterative process takes feedback from our network as well as our own personal research and uses it to continuously refine our efforts, as well as open new avenues for exploration. Feedback from the client side is also vital as, only when we start discussing concrete potential partners with our clients can we really fully understand what opportunities best fit their strategic goals, and thereby further refine and optimise our search.

The search process as a whole requires us to be quite flexible and “intuitive”, as different technology requirements will inherently benefit to a greater or lesser extent from different solution providers (depending on factors such as long/short term vision for collaboration, expertise vs final solution, etc.). It also requires us to complement and “fill in the gaps” with information from widely varying sources, such as patent databases, published scientific papers, university press releases and commercial sources such as industry specific events, financial filings, and specialist advisors.

As we start building the innovation map and populating it with potential partners and opportunities, it is imperative that we filter and analyse each proposal in the light of our client’s requirements. Only the opportunities we deem the most suitable end up being introduced to our clients, at which point we help facilitate their interaction and communication. We will explore this next and final step of SAL’s process next time.


Prepared by Ivan Coelho