In order to take some larger projects forward it may be necessary to 'walk before running' by utilising a collaboration agreement to help establish trust and shared objectives.
A Collaboration Agreement is typically used to set out the intent of the development partners although will fall short of developing a contractual relationship or a detailed agreement. However, it will provide an early consensus that will set the ground for more formal negotiation, where the key contractual commitments will be crystallised and agreed. A well structured agreement would also provide the partners the comfort required to continue investing the required time, manpower, external resource and thus money at their own risk initially.
A Collaboration Agreement document usually seeks agreement around the following elements:
1 Roles and responsibilities of the partners and the scope and parameters within which each will operate throughout the project. For example, the internal arrangements and project team within the project. This will also consider how each party will work together going forward, including delegated processes for achieving sign off of the stages up to agreeing a more formal agreement and who will be responsible for key activities or the production of key documents.
2 Project timeline with key commercial and activity milestones for which any or all of the parties will be responsible, plus a meeting schedule and attendance plan for the project.
3 Intention on structure ie key commercial terms (however, it is important that this does not distract the parties from achieving early signature of the Collaboration Agreement).
4 Wider engagement strategy for the parties, any external stakeholders and also for the legal and other advisors (i.e. who needs to be involved and in what issues and at what stages). This will allow the partners to control the professional costs incurred in developing the project.