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Co-development with Chinese suppliers

by Renaud Anjoran

When it comes to developing a new product, an importing business cannot always do it all alone.

Sometimes it is possible, and I strongly suggest the following steps for complex products: (1) develop a prototype with a few technical blueprints, (2) refine it in contact with a good Chinese manufacturer.

But let us say you want to develop a tablet PC or a mobile phone, while making substantial changes to the OS (say, Android). You will have no choice but to work hand in hand with a manufacturer that has a solid engineering team with know-how in hardware and firmware.

This type of R&D collaboration is called co-development, and it presents its own challenges. I took a few notes when Gary Newman, VP of international sourcing at Schneider Electric Partner Business, did his presentation on this topic in the ”Made in Asia” seminar (organized every year by the French Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong).

If 2 companies co-develop a new product, and each has an 70% chance of success, what is the overall chance of success on the project?

70% x 70% = a 49% chance of success only!

Newman advises to consider these criteria before co-developing:

  • Value proposition of partner
  • Clear IP protection
  • Deliverables & delivery risk
  • Speed to market
  • Project cost
  • Technical bandwidth, internal & external
  • Skills & mindset of co-develop project management team

Anybody see additional criteria?


Renaud Anjoran is the founder of Sofeast Quality Control and helps importers to improve and secure their product quality in China. He writes advice for importers on the Quality Inspection blog. He lives full time in Shenzhen, China. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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