September 30, 2019
According to Kolster’s CEO Timo Helosuo, the Finnish Government’s recent budget proposal’s message on accelerating investments comes at the exactly right time to improve the competitiveness of Finnish companies. Commercialising innovations, cooperation with universities and increasing upper management’s IPR competence will help companies succeed.All companies want to advance their development and success with all possible methods. However, even many of our larger companies fail to utilise one central method. This was evident when we commissioned market research company Taloustutkimus to survey the attitudes of 200 managers of Finnish companies and their knowledge of the intellectual property rights.
The core message was that they want and need more information on IPR matters. It’s good news that companies know what they do not know: they understand the significance of IPR, but they do not have enough knowledge of it.
The price tag of ignorance can surprise many managers. In fact, by utilising IPR more efficiently than now, companies could get up to 30 per cent more in return for the money they use on product development.
“A company must ask itself these three questions”
The research we commissioned Taloustutkimus to carry out reveals that the Finnish corporate management is not satisfied with the way innovations are commercialised. Therefore, each company must ask itself: Have we utilised in our product development everything we could utilise? Is our product development process still the same as in the early 2000s, or are we developing it constantly? When we collaborate with universities and other institutes of higher education, have we made sure that all our IP related agreements are in order?
The survey results also confirm that the majority of Finnish companies do not have enough competence and therefore no strong will to make full use of product development innovations. Boards of directors should be familiar with the product development process in their company and demand the best possible commercialisation of all stages of the development. As long as there is a lack of information about the potential, too much is missing.
“Inventions are not bulk goods, but small-batch IPR treasures”
Companies often have many different product development projects running at the same time. The best results end up in production, while some are discarded as unprofitable. However, nothing should be discarded without examination. Even if the product itself does not function, some part of the solution will definitely work. It might be possible to commercialise some part of the research results. There are many potential value creation points and targets along the product-development path — such as form, brand, some technical elements or the production method. Unfortunately, they are not utilised enough. Product development money will only be used wisely when a much larger proportion of the entire product development process and inventions are commercialized compared to now.The essential thing is to analyse the entire product development path in a detailed manner. No invention should be handled as one entity, but as a multifaceted compilation of various innovations. We will get more out of innovations by chopping them into small batches.
Read more: IP strategy to support your business
“It’s a question of how we can earn more with innovations”
IP specialists can help you identify the checkpoints in the product development cycle that can make commercialisation more efficient and ensure that inventions do not slip away. When they analyse the IP potential of your project development results, you will find out which features, functionalities or parts of the process should be patented, licenced, and what should be protected with a trademark or a utility model. In other words: how do you get a better return on your investment with this invention.When a company invests one million in product development, it can well get back 15 million if all possible commercialisation possibilities and targets are carefully considered. And this is not the only benefit. Simultaneously, the company ensures that competitors do not disrupt the business and endanger investments. And all this can be implemented in a way that is in line with the company's strategy.
“The creativity of a patent attorney is the new productivity lever”
At Kolster, we work and will continue to work to make sure that in the future there is a lot less loss in companies’ product development investments compared to now. Further, at the end of a product’s lifecycle, it is worth considering whether someone else still could continue producing it profitably with a licence, for example, in a different market. At the same time, the original owner would continue to benefit from the license fees.
In this review, a patent attorney’s full creativity is harnessed and it becomes a lever for productivity improvement. In order to succeed, we recommend companies to do the following: Invite an IP professional for a visit and ask them to identify 30 potential commercialisation ideas in your product development project, and to suggest 10 of the best commercialisation opportunities your company has not found itself. An IP professional will be able to tell you from where and which assets the value comes from.
“We help companies learn and grow stronger”
Even we, actors in the IP industry, should take a long look in the mirror and take a new direction. It seems that we have not succeeded in selling our IP competence that, in particular, relates to finding commercialisation opportunities in the product development process and supporting business operations. If the only service an IP agency nowadays can offer is just drafting patent applications, you might as well stand back and wait for the sunset.
Our task is to help companies learn more about IPR and its possibilities. This way, we strengthen our own industry and the entire business life. And Finland is not enough for us — just as it is not enough for Finnish companies. The core of the entire IP industry is internationalisation and selling innovative products to other countries. We want to help our clients throughout the world, which is why Kolster already has an office in China and local operations in Germany, the United States and Russia.
Through new insights, knowledge sharing and a change of attitude, we are turning the IPR business into a rising sun opportunity. Together.