Ceres, a pioneering British fuel cell company, already had a partner in South Korea when they appointed us to help them with business development.
Their partner was a Korean boiler manufacturer with a strong presence in the global market, who appeared to offer Ceres both the technical capabilities to integrate their product into their boilers, and the sales channels to get their product to market.
But communication was difficult. And progress was slow. So Ceres tasked us with getting to the bottom of the problem and driving the partnership forward.
We built a relationship with the partner across its technical and its corporate strategy functions. But, after six months, we concluded that – perhaps because they held a dominant market position with their legacy products – they weren’t committed to developing a new product using Ceres’ technology.
So, we set out to find new partners with the appetite and capacity to license Ceres’ fuel cells and develop products around them for the global market.
South Korea is home to several global OEMs with fuel cell expertise, from Doosan and POSCO to LG and SK Group. As well as engaging all the main corporate players, we sought to understand and influence the national fuel cell innovation programme by getting to know the research institutes and government agencies exploring new energy technologies.
Building a broad network and raising awareness of Ceres throughout the Korean fuel cell community were essential, as Ceres’ solid oxide fuel cell technology is truly cutting edge – meaning that even Korea’s world-beating systems integrators require external expertise to evaluate it.
After in-depth discussions with a number of the top players in Korea, we identified an opportunity with the country’s largest fuel cell company: Doosan Corporation.
Having evaluated the opportunity and managed to secure serious interest from Doosan, we switched gear from business development to project management.
We worked intensively with the engineering teams from Ceres and several Doosan subsidiaries to ensure a successful technology assessment, while simultaneously liaising between the two companies’ commercial teams to drive contract negotiations.
We secured a system licence and joint development agreement worth an initial US$10 million, which we then followed with another deal worth over US$47 million. We’re continuing to work with our client to develop this and other relationships in the South Korean market.