So you have developed new technology or processes, so what are your next steps?
Of course funding is fundamentally important, but for physical device technology development, your business plan should in parallel consider developing a manufacturable design and prototype while also protecting your intellectual property. The initial design and prototype devices can be critical stages by not only preventing time consuming costly back steps later, but also in acquiring funding in the early rounds. By engaging an established manufacturer and design group early on, your organization adds “mass” as you approach investors and build your team of experts. That mass is manifested in finacial aspects but also manufacturing infrastruture that you can plug into and utilize.
What should you look for in your design and manufacturing partners? Things like: longevity, financial stability and naturally, capacity and capability. A financially stable and well established manufacturing partner shows investors and your organization that they are there to stay and know how to navigate their respetcive space. Having proven capability surrounding your technology will help steer you through things like regulatory requirements, best manufacturing design practices and scalability.
While not commonly a foremost thought when investigating a manufacturer their ability to protect your IP is very important. If you have a truly unique concept your primary concern is to protect that. As of March 16, 2013 the U.S. is now a "first to file" country like many others. This means that you need to file at least a provisional patent as soon as possible. You might also consider a patent lawyer's services to file for IP that may be present, that you are not even aware is unique. A good manufacturer will not only provide you a signed NDA but can also direct you to a suitable legal service if you have not retained one yet. Being able to trust your manufacturer with your IP and protecting that is critical so that they are your partner, working with you, not putting you at risk.