R&D Partners: The Start of a Beautiful Friendship

Partnering with your customers on R&D.

KC Armstrong

TASTE TEST: Pieter deJonge of Cambridge Fine Foods (left) discusses a breakfast tart with one of his customers, Byron Ainsworth, president of Your Grocery Depot.

If you want your customers to see you as a partner, rather than a mere vendor, "let's build this together" is a superior proposition to "buy this from me." And who doesn't want to be viewed as a partner? So it's not surprising that joint research and development projects between customers and suppliers are on the rise. In its simplest form, joint R&D means that customers provide ideas and feedback while a product is being developed. They may also share costs and co-own the resulting intellectual property.

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