Key Insights for Collaboration Success
July 26, 2022

Key Insights for Collaboration Success

Your Journey

Will Perry of Apagie, provider of the HTA market validation workshops, recently sat down with Doug Leach, Vice President, Device Innovation at the Hospital for Special Surgery (Manhattan, NY), to understand what they expect from would-be collaborators.

To succeed in a complex market like healthcare, the use of commercial and collaboration partners is an excellent way to gain access to networks, customers, and expertise. 

This article is a snippet from a larger interview, so if you’d like to read more, follow the link below. 

Link: Download the full interview with Doug Leach, Hospital for Special Surgery via the Apagie website

Main takeaways from the interview:

  1. Before speaking with partners undertake market validation to reduce the perceived risk of a venture.
  2. The market rewards specificity: focus on a single problem your customers are experiencing and build out from there. 
  3. Relationships matter. If you’re hard to work with then a collaboration is going to be hard, and it won’t last. 
  4. To build commercial value you need a commercial proposition. Innovators need to go beyond the technical attributes of the product and know how the product will bring value to a system or commercial entity. 


Interview Snippet

Will Perry:

When a business pitches their product to you for collaboration or commercial partnership, do you expect them to know the commercials of the area and the size of the problem, such as total addressable market?

Doug Leach: 

“The easy answer is yes, but it’s more nuanced. There's kind of a minimum threshold of what we expect these innovators to know. For example, this one company that impressed us knew their technology flat out. These guys also knew about the market and knew how to bring things to market. One of the guys had worked for the FDA at one point so as soon as they went through their business plan and their plan of attack for commercialisation my first response: they know exactly what to expect and exactly what to do.  It was also clear they had been wise about how they picked their market. They were also laser focused on one thing. They knew other areas that they could go into, but they weren't getting distracted by that.”

“We expect businesses to understand what they’re getting into. For example, if you're naive and you don't even know what your regulatory pathway looks like, you need to pause and get that ironed out first. If people haven’t done their due diligence, we tend to back away from that”. 

Importance of relationships:

“The other thing that’s important is getting along; life’s too short to work with people you don’t like. It’s important to us that at least we’re having fun. Once you get past that, that’s when you start learning... When there’s a good relationship and it’s fun, it’s easier to work together and the partnership is more fruitful for both of us. We view part of our role to expand on their thinking, because they don’t live in the world that we do.”


The takeaways

Knowing the business you’re in, where your product or service fits into the market, and making it easy to work with sounds obvious. But what we see is most of the science led projects tend to be technically led and the market potential and value chain placement is neglected. This undermines the confidence of potential partners and greatly reduces the negotiating power of providers. In many cases, the collaboration partner will better understand the problem you solve from the outset (otherwise there is no attraction to begin with). Therefore, ensure that whoever you approach is an expert in the wider field in which your product sits. 

Finally, collaborations are built around great people, products and trust. Openness and candour go a long way to creating an environment that supports a long-lasting relationship. This will get your product to market faster and create long term value for both parties. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to develop collaborations, determine your market potential or work through the commercial aspects of collaborations, a good start is joining our next market validation workshop with the HealthTech Activator or reach out at

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