In this transcript, we delve into the best practices for building partnership consortiums. Since these projects are often multi-million dollar (or multi-billion!) it’s important to utilize a partnership strategy framework. This ensures that all bases are covered, including legal matters like copyrights and trademarks. Similarly, it addresses each country’s requirements for registration, grants, and clearly lays out funding information. This helps mitigate issues on the backend and allows companies to build their product. Here are the models of consortiums and how they can help your business.
Cassie: Yes, we are good to go. Here we go. It’s Wednesday afternoon. Early evening for you Pradeep, right.?
Pradeep: It’s 9 p.m. at night in Sydney. Oh my gosh. Okay already. Do you know that? I caught this 6 pm Australia time because I’ve got another session conference that I’m speaking at another one after.
Cassie: Yes, you are such a busy man! For those of you who are watching, this session is going to be talking all about building Partnerships Consortiums, and there’s no better speaker on the planet who I could find to speak on this subject, Pradeep Khanna. He’s the executive director of the APEC Asia and Sydney chapter of the VR AR Association and one of my personal mentors, so Pradeep, welcome!
Pradeep: Thank you so much, Cassie! I am absolutely delighted. You know, I love Casie’s energy levels and that’s one of the reasons that I’m here. And let me say very good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Good night, to all of you. Whatever part of the world you are. Back to you Cassie.
Cassie: Awesome. So let’s jump in, maybe you can share a little bit with the people that are watching. Now, more of your background, just to give them a more full understanding of where you’re coming from.
Pradeep: Okay, so folks, look, I think I did my bachelor’s in technology many, many years back. Where, possibly a lot of you were not even born. Isn’t that was very back in 197. And you know, if somebody still remembers how to calculate I am 66 years old. I did it from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi. It’s one of the premier institutes worldwide! In 1991 I migrated to Australia, 21 years, 25 years back. I was a senior executive with the Australian Trade Commission, looking after international business. So the World Bank ADB projects southeast Asia and the likes. Much later in my career, I was with IBM and I’ve had a few Global roles. In fact, it was divested out of IBM. I was the asia-pacific deployment planning manager for the diversion. Well, in short, I built a multibillion-dollar business for IBM, Australia and New Zealand, India, China, Philippines, Vietnam, Egypt, Romania, Argentina, Brazil. At the moment. I am very, very heavily immersed into what should I say? We are Meta are all these and apart from what Casie mentioned, in terms of my role with the VR and AR, I am also involved with getting into the debate between open source and proprietary technology. And to push for standard. Then from a Global mindset perspective we are working to create a Marketplace in VR AR and why?
Because I get invited to speak to so many conferences. And when I speak at this conference I find 70% of people do not even understand the difference between VR and AR. So we see an unsymmetrical market at the moment. We see an imperfect market, but hey, this is where the opportunity is because we are heading for the tipping point in the next two to three years. And then I am an Adjunct professor in a number of cases in Australia, Asia. I’m also on the advisory boards of companies, and it just goes on. So, but needless to say that I am very, very immersed into immersive technologies and seldom come down to the real reality. So, back to you.
Cassie: That’s so funny! You know, I was like, looking on Twitter yesterday, and somebody made a tweet, like, for anybody that is in immersive technology. Whether that’s AR, VR, XR, metaverse. He said, take notes because this is the most amazing time to be in this industry.
Pradeep: So I personally couldn’t agree more with it. You see. Because while the technologies have been around for the last 25 plus years, and I used to think, you know, that 5G has been the game changer and, you know, we will see, you know, when 5G takes about seven to eight years to come to full functionality all over the world. You see the roadmap of we are also in the same direction, but what else happened is with Facebook, rebranding is meta and you know, every other tech company, you know, now starting rediscovering metaverse, So Metaverse got into, everybody shares the mind and everybody is wondering what the hell is metaverse and I can’t imagine a better time to be an immersive Technologies than now.
Cassie: Yes. Yeah. Yes, absolutely. And so with that we’re going to segue into the topic of discussion. We’ve both been working in this field. For the past year, I’ve been working with many different companies and building Partnerships and looking at how this whole thing wraps together. Now. What is a partnership Consortium and how does it actually differ from a joint venture that you would do with another company?
Pradeep: So let’s visit. At base zero. When you start a business. And you start dealing with external parties for some form of collaboration. Or some form of business activity, you have various options and this is whether you are, you know, looking at doing business nationally or internationally. You could appoint somebody as an agent for you to sell or provide a service X. You could, going internationally, maybe set up a relative office going internationally or even domestically, you could set up a joint venture and what that means is that you are collaborating with somebody and both potentially have an equal partnership. Yet, another model could be that you are opening a full-fledged company in another country X. So in a sense, what is happening is that you are fundamentally responsible and allocating certain parts of your functionality, instructing some structured manner to somebody else. On the other hand, what is the Consortium? Consortium is where a couple of entities get together to achieve certain objectives.
Now, why do you, why would you want to enter into a Consortium in the first place? One reason is that if you are a small entity, then if you need scale, then either you grow organically, or, you know, you go down a route of collaborating with a couple of people to form a Consortium. Second, if you have skill A, but the market for whatever form and shape requires skill A plus B plus C plus D, so how do you get those skills? One of the ways to do it is to have Consortium, and Consortium means essentially, some kind of an agreement with a group of people who are providing you, those complementary skills, so that you’re able to meet the needs of the marketplace. Third, you know, the reason is for managing risk. If you were taking on some activity, you are carrying the risk in the reward all by yourself, but when you form a Consortium, you mitigate the risk to a certain extent. But yes. The downside also is that you mitigate the reward also, so depending on your priorities, you would go down that Wicked part. Another one is that you see in taking any business activity, you know, there it can be fairly expensive at times. How do you, you know, find a way in which you can share costs with everybody? Yes, in the, in the, in the process also sharing the reward. So that could also be one of the drivers for, you know, forming a Consortium. Now, to come back to your basic question, how are the two frameworks different? So let’s go back to what I said earlier in the first case. You are the sole entity and you are kind of offloading, part of the responsibility for a certain return in a somewhat structured manner. Where is the other case you’re actually partnering with a group of people or entities for joint, sharing of risk, reward towards certain objects. So that essentially is the difference.
Cassie: It’s okay. Fantastic. Now, what are the questions that I have is concerning the IP and the ownership for solutions that are born out of, of a Consortium. What are some of the different considerations to really think about when in regards to IP ownership?
Pradeep: So you see your question and if we’re able to take the context of XR,it actually has three different elements. One is in terms of intellectual property rights. Second is in regard to Consortium and the third is XR. And if you blend all of these three elements together, you get some very, very interesting perspective. Know when you look at IPR and IPR comes down, you know, looking into patents and trademarks looking at You see, now the question is what part of IPR are we talking about? That’s number one. Number two, is that when you talk about consortium, then what happens is that the members of the Consortium, some of them could already be having some IPR before entering into the Consortium. Now, stage two is that in the consortium, some IPR is generated. Stage 3 is post, you know, the consortium reaching a certain milestone, you know, some IPR how the IPR is used. Now the question comes in is that, you know, you got to, you know, take into account and this is just some of the factors. And let me also revisit the third point, which was in regard to immersive Technologies. And let me take you to see because we are now heading into a world, especially with the metaverse kind of coming on. And of course, everybody will debate about what is the metaverse? But let’s kind of agree that it is a combination of the real and the virtual world that includes all forms of the realities. Now moving on to take that kind of, or or there is some element of a virtual world which is involved into this. Now, let’s take for example, that, you know, you are using, you know, the The Branding and the logo of Coke. Now, when you use it in the real world, it has, You know, it is governed by corporations. But what happens when you use it in the metaverse? What happens when you distort it in the metaverse? So, you know, when you blend it, look at the entire range of possibilities, it is a fabulous situation. Needless to say that you need to have an agreement in place. And the agreement also and this gets linked also with a certain amount of what is going to be the governance framework, you know, and what that governance framework, what we are talking about is that we kind of, when we get together as a, in a partnership or a Consortium model? Then the first thing is that you go to identify: What is the value proposition for each of the members? What is the common objective that we are kind of looking at? And what kind of a structure? It will be. And also remember that when we talk about IPR, IPR is a local country subject. Which means that IPR laws in Australia are going to be different from my IPR laws in Singapore, going to be different from IPL laws in the U.S. It is so that kind of you know, unless upfront we are kind of looking at that. First of all, before agreement signing, what is the state of IPR of the individual and if some of the IPR is going to be used early? I sense that you know the consortium to use it. Number two is that you see what is going to be the governing framework in that situation. And also to move looking at into the ideal situation here that looks up, what geography are we going to be registering this? Which geography are we going to be using? Of course, there is no harm in registering all over the world of wherever it is, but everything costs money, you know and end of the day you got to look at the trade-off between you know, and each country may have slightly different requirements, which means that I am going to be keep telling the application or the product for every country. So this is the, you know, been broadly when you look at the IP kind of a thing, to again, to revisit that you first look at, you know, what are the elements to know whether it is worth paying attention to, whether it’s a copyright or whether it’s a trademark. What do the partners have before? How is it? What is going to be the same work or distribution of value between the three partners? Who is going to be providing? What kind of resources? Is there a kind of a balance, you know, a framework to border that. So, all of these things will come into play and lastly, is it. You when you blend it with the immersive technology. It leads to a whole big, you know, question mark over a lot of things. It leads to saying that I am only highlighting, you know, I do. Very very high level as to some of the points which need to be considered. But you know a very very important thing is that you must have an agreement in place before he coughs which kind of clearly specifies that they cover these. Number two is that you must must these are the areas which do need specialized, you know skills. So you must consult some specialist, you know, IPR specialists in the country. Because you know, your Consortium there is going to be registered, You know, where is the IPR going to be registered? Which country is it going to be, you know, used? So all these factors will come into play and so they must concern this, you know, so these are some of the things that I can talk about. I can talk about a lot more, but I thought I just kind of summarized.
Cassie: This is fantastic. You actually answered my next question, anyways. I want to kind of maybe ask like, certain scenarios on how they get started. Like, do I just say I want to start and then I reach out to people what are, what is usually the that I guess, like that starting point, is it usually a project brief that comes around? Maybe it’s a public sort of use case. Of course.
Pradeep: The question that you’re asking is that in what circumstances do we kind of, you know, kickstarter Consortium? Yeah. And what is the driver? So very often you see consortiums formed for, you know, typical. I’m giving you a typical example in large Industries, infrastructure projects across the Consortium, as a very common because they tend to be multibillion-dollar. Multi-million dollar projects. And they’ve got different stakeholders who are specialized in different things. And the customers are looking for one single point of contact for, you know, dealing or looking for a complete turn key situation solution. The second is that, you know, very often in research organizations, very often you have consortium because then they are looking, you’re not project-based with a certain outcome and looking at certain complementary skills and certain framework because the organization which is funding it RFP or RFT or something like that. And that may require that you have a certain Consortium and just to give an example that if I’m looking at, you see the base in Australia. And I am looking at, you know, doing something that’s a research project in Singapore. Now. I have a couple of options that I can, you know, like I said, I open my own office, I can operate from here. I can have a potential joint venture or something like that. But at the end of the day, the Singapore entity which is funding the research project. I will want to deal with somebody based in Singapore and they may require skills XYZ or certain kinds of, you know, requirements, which I am unable to meet myself, which means that I have to form a Consortium. And I can take many different routes to do that. That’s another one. So it is very often for grants. When it comes to Grants, you know, typically the requirement, you know, they will be a selection criteria for the grant and for meeting the selection criteria. It may be worthwhile to form a Consortium. Now here, again, it is very important to look at, you know, what are the models of a Consortium? A Consortium can be, you know, in one way where one of the partners can become a prime. By prime means they become the single point of contact in so far as the customer is concerned and everybody else becomes, you know, like a subcontract to them. Now, another model can be where one partner is not prime, they would, but they just the representatives of the entity vis-a-vis the customer. The third model can be where, you know, there is somebody from outside, you know, the group of people who are forming the Consortium they have front ending it and of course there is a you know agreement with them with the Consortium. Now, the fourth element is that, you know, you can have a different structure or you can have a different vehicle altogether. You can form a new entity which is really the which is going to, you know, bid for it. Now, all of these have pros and cons and depending on the size of the project, you know, depending on the nature of the project, you know, you will have your selection criteria. Also, when you go into all of this, you will have to look to get it approached. In terms of a you know profile of an activity or a project. Your initial phase can be a feasibility study. Which can we do? We followed on to scoping which can go on to design development implementation. And each of these stages. You can have a go/no-go decision. Now, it is possible that you may have one structure at one particular phase and you have another structure at another particular phase. Depending on, what are the resource requirements? Who’s pulling in what because it is a capital resource. Is it a, you know, skill resource? Is it, um, you know, the hard way, which is required. So all of these factors will come into play when looking at, you know, first of all, you know what structure and of course, you know that should we have this Consortium for a particular project or for ongoing activity for multiple projects. So all of these factors are in common.
Cassie: Wow, that’s a lot to do to factor in and to make these decisions and let’s say you’ve already had, you know, maybe maybe there’s a Grant application that you want to go for. Let’s say you know what capabilities you have and you’ve identified different gaps. What would be, I guess, the best process for securing another partner to come into the Consortium. What are those best practices on finding people to work with?
Pradeep: So this is a very good question because you see, I see this happening all the time. And what happens is that, you know, oh, till the end date, you know, for submitting a Grant application and, you know, there are gaps in my application. Oh man, who is the first person that I know. Get together some agreement and, you know, get on with it. What I think that is the single most important step, which is going to take you to a failure, you know, because got to remember that an agreement is as good as an agreement that has the trust between the Consortium Partners. So, you know, the paramount is that you see because very often let’s say hypothetically that you know, we have to try, you know, there are gaps in the application for exact. Now, the first question is that is it in the same geographical location or internationally? Let’s say that I’m based in Australia and then I have to submit a grant in Singapore. Now when it comes to that kind of a situation, then my first focus has to be looking at what is the key selection criteria from the customer? They will very often. You see, because a single government like all governments all over the world or for that matter whether it’s Australian government will essentially provide funding for entities, which is incorporated and based in Singapore. Yeah, they are not there to, you know, fund activities all over the world. So what that means is that I need, first of all, to have some kind of an agreement with somebody located in Singapore. Now, you see in the Middle East, you see a once upon a time that you should be. The only way that you could do businesses. That the local partner had the way, you know, yours the front end and you had to be the back end for The Local Company. Nowadays things are much different. But the reality is that just imagine that you don’t want to get stuck in a situation where the front-end, you know, kind of does whatever they want to do. And, and, you know, you are there fumbling and wondering, how do I go about it? So that’s what I mentioned: the element of trust. Now. The question is that if I have one, I say, it is a mandatory requirement. You can look at the selection criteria and look at what are the mandatory requirements. And what are what I call, you know, flexible requirements from a selection process. The other is that if I need, let’s say that I have skills in XR. Ow, and this requires maybe, you know, some knowledge of IOTs maybe requires some knowledge of 5G, you know, I have some knowledge, but I’m not an expert in those areas. Therefore essentially I need to get partners into a consortium to get this together. Now, should I go for a Consortium to go for a partnership agreement? Remember that Consortium essentially is also an expensive game. Because there is some money moored in, you know, Finding Your agreements and all this and you’re operating in another country. So, those are some of the decision points, but how would I go about finding them? So the number one question is that, yes, I find the three things which come straight to my mind one. Is that okay? I need somebody who’s going to be my representative. You know, for the customer located in Singapore, I’ve got some knowledge. I need somebody who has good IOTs skills. Third, I need somebody to say 5G skills now. Do I get these people from Australia or do I you know, so some locally. Here comes the question, in terms of what is my strength of relationship with any of these people, you know, that I’m dealing with, how am I able to really establish? So, my recommendation is that you see broadly, you know, we should be having a strategic Outlook, and be on the lookout and have working relationships, you know, with a range of people where you can judge in terms of what is Trust Factor. What is the commonality of, you know, the value proposition? And the objective. I may want the gradually varied., you know, this is the only objective in life. He is my partner. It is just one of the hundred different things that he is doing. So will I be able to get a share of this activity, see, finding people, range of people in the skill category is not difficult at all. But it is the question of the selection of the right, you know, mix which is going to descend ultimately. Because it is the journey and down the road equations, may not change. So therefore if there is a working relationship that you know and the trust factor, that will go a long way and you know, how are you and at the end of the day, you have to align with whatever, you know, the selection criteria of the grant of the funder is.
Cassie: All right. Well Pradeep, thank you so much. You know, I trusted that you would bring the goods and you did. That was such an informative and actionable session and your talk was truly amazing. Thank you so much.
Pradeep: Thank you so much for having me Cassie. I always enjoy fireside chats with you whether they are on a platform like this or otherwise. Once again, this is Pradeep from Sydney signing off and having a morning, Good morning tea, afternoon lunch whatever it is in your part of the day and bye for now.
Cassie: Excellent. All right, and everybody, we are going to be taking, what is it? An hour and a half break? So if you want to mix and mingle in their social lounge or jump on a table and chat with anybody, please do so. Otherwise, we’ll see you back here in 91 minutes. Take care of everybody!
We hope you now understand the different ways to build successful partnership consortiums. Finding the right people to work with and choosing a partnership strategy framework that works for your business is one of the most important decisions your company will make. When done correctly, these consortiums allow your company to access funds more efficiently and mitigate risk factors. Also, it helps your company delegate work and solve red-tape issues. This can allow your business to be immensely successful.
Innovation Park provides global expansion strategies, business immigration services, international funding opportunities, and more. When it comes to international marketing strategies, Innovation Park will keep you in the know-how on strategic partnerships. Contact us if you’re ready to expand your business globally.
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