Simple Partnership Agreement (SiPA)

A new way for early-stage startups and corporates to collaborate

For startups—especially those developing hard-technology products—collaborations with corporate partners can be essential milestones for gaining market traction and proving the value of their product or service.

For corporations, working with a promising startup can return many benefits, from gaining a foothold in a new market to gaining a valuable partner, or eventually an acquisition.

Yet, navigating the earliest stages of these collaborations—the steps between making first contact to a commercial arrangement for a limited engagement such as a pilot project—is fraught with complexity and complex negotiations. We believe that is unreasonable and untenably time-consuming. More importantly, it’s slowing the pace at which important scientific innovations can move from lab to market.

SiPA is designed to fix that.

The Simple Partnership Agreement (SiPA) framework and agreement templates enable faster collaborations between startups and corporates by reducing contracting barriers in the earliest stages of joint projects, while also highlighting value creation. Through generous funding from the Department of Energy, Activation Energy (which manages Cyclotron Road in partnership with Berkeley Lab) has developed SiPA in order to offer a simplified approach to structuring early projects between startups and established partners.

Specifically, the paperwork to go from “let’s do something” to a signed first contract has been too cumbersome for these collaborations to take place at scale.

Instead of jumping to a complex form of engagement, the SiPA approach offers an actionable framework through which startups and corporates can work together before determining whether there is mutual value in pursuing longer-term collaboration.

Conventional Collaboration vs. SiPA

The SiPA templates offer a simplified approach to structuring early projects between startups and established partners. They do so by identifying risks and structuring the engagements as short service contracts. 

The SiPA templates are being improved based on feedback so if you have comments, please submit them through the contact form below.


Get Involved

A number of corporates and startups have already initiated collaborations using the SiPA framework—see some of their feedback below. Is your organization looking to either deploy a pilot project or host one to evaluate new technology?

For Corporates: Make yourself more friendly to startups that are seeking to get promising technology to market by structuring a partnership through a SiPA.

For Startups: Using a SiPA can help jumpstart a collaboration with a target corporate partner.

For Industry: [[Nikhil in my notes it says “aid your portfolio” but I’m not clear on what you’re saying there.. And “industry” is such a broad term. why call out this group?]]


We worked with DLA Piper to create SiPA templates that offer a simplified approach to structuring early projects between startups and established partners. The templates, available for download below, allow each partner to identify risks but also highlight potential for value creation. SiPA engagements are structured as short service contracts. 

logo box goes here: EMD materials, chevron, exxon, nissan renault, KLA Tencor