Survey findings about collaboration or partnership arrangements - reasons why businesses choose to collaborate and other pertinent information such as physical proximity.


Increased business focus, complemented by a willingness to collaborate, especially in innovation, has become a conspicuous business trend and research focus in recent years. The survey asked about formal and informal collaboration or partnership arrangements, who partners were, and where they were located.

Almost half (44%) of businesses reported some form of collaboration or partnership (see Figure 7). Of those who collaborated, the most common partners were firms in the same line of business (60%), suppliers (53%) and customers (43%). Higher education/research institutes and private research institutes/consultants trailed at 21% and 17% respectively.

Figure 7: Collaboration



The main reasons for collaboration were to expand the range of expertise or products offered to customers, assisting in the development of specialist services/products required by customers, helping to keep current customers, sharing R&D activity and improving financial and market credibility respectively. There were some variations according to the partner, of course; collaborations with suppliers, for instance, were aimed at outsourcing output, and gaining access to or spreading the costs of new equipment or information sources. By far the highest reason given for collaborating with higher education/research institutes was to access grants requiring collaboration.


Most of the partners were national, closely followed by local (within 20km), followed by a considerable margin by overseas.

Collaborative arrangements were more common among medium-sized businesses, services – especially high-tech services – fast growers (to a limited extent), industry-level innovators, and exporters, but they had lower profits.

Box 2: Business success – the other end of the spectrum
Looking at the comments about "success" by CEOs whose businesses had not grown, innovated or exported (about 9% of the total), obviously the orientation to growth was missing, but they were also very mindful of their customers, especially those making high profits. This applied to expressed or existing customer needs, however, and not unmet needs. Those making little or no profit, moreover, were much vaguer in their comments, or appeared to be running their business primarily as a form of employment or a means to other ends.