A Roadmap for Building Partnerships with Businesses in the Middle East

Network Findings
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A strategic objective of the Network is to create lasting partnerships between Network Centers and the private sector.  Yet, this remains a challenge for many research institutions in the Middle East and elsewhere. 
FABRI’s Private Sector Outreach Advisor, Razan Quossous recommends “before initiating a partnership building activity with the private sector, first identify the strategic rationale for including the private sector in your programs.”  To start, Centers should answer a number of questions which will help guide how the private sector partner can be integrated into their activities:

  • What is the basis for the partnership?
  • Is the partnership appropriate for the activity?
  • What are the areas of interest that the private sector may have in the activity?
  • What is the value proposition for the private sector from the partnership?
  • What kind of resources might be leveraged?
  • What does the Center hope to achieve with the partnership?
  • What specific program goals would not be achievable without a partnership?

Before going to the first meeting with a private sector partner, Centers should complete initial research to understand activities, and become familiar with the projects that the partner has implemented. This research is critical to being able to understanding the partner’s business challenges and identifying common areas of interest and how they relate to MENA NWC program activities.
When it is time for the first meeting, it is important that the first interaction be structured with a clear agenda.  Centers should avoid starting the conversation by asking for a cash contribution for its program, but rather use the meeting to jointly identify opportunities for mutual collaboration. Before leaving, or soon after the meeting is over, arrange a follow-up meeting to discuss any specific partnership possibilities that emerged. 
Arrange for a follow-up meeting to discuss any specific partnership possibilities that emerged. A successful partnership with the private sector is reflected in:

  • Clearly defined goals and objectives;
  • Creating a value proposition to partners;
  • Commitment of all partners to achieving the set goals
  • Effective leadership to facilitate communication and establish trust among partners; and,
  • Reward and recognition of the individual partners according to their contribution to the partnership.

By following these steps, MENA NWC Centers can build lasting, sustainable partnerships with non-traditional partners in the region.