High-growth technology business forum: licensing

Free online seminar on 1 June at 17.00 hrs CEST

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High-growth technology business forum: open-innovation

Free online seminar on 15 June at 15.00 hrs CEST

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High-growth technology case studies

Key visual

Business leaders talk about their real-life cases at the High-growth technology business forums. Together with global expert panels, they discuss their success stories and the challenges that they had to overcome. They delve into the role and importance of intellectual assets, with a special emphasis on licensing, building to sell, growth financing and open innovation. Each case study provides practical key takeaways, especially for business decision-makers, on how to advance their business with intellectual assets as key value drivers.

Click on a topic to access more information and case study videos:

Licensing

IonQ (IT Services - USA)

Licensing in the era of quantum

IonQ's mission is to build the world's best quantum computers to solve the world's most complex problems. Established in 2015 and with stock listed on the NYSE in 2021, IonQ is the first listed pure-play quantum company in the world, working hard to release the full potential of quantum technology.

Francisco Castro, Chief IP Counsel at IonQ, will explore the IP and licensing story of a company operating in a very young industry. This licensing case touches on in-licensing, university relationships and IP-licensing aspects of potential business models in quantum industry.

Free online seminar on 1 June at 17.00 hrs CEST.

Unilab (pharmaceuticals - Philippines)

Importance of licensing models in the pharma industry

Takeaways

  • Always be transparent and operate in good faith. Infringement is not good business.
  • Innovation is not just about technology, but also about strategy, playing by the rules and being smart.
  • Licensing, as a means to leverage and grow, can be and is an effective model.
  • You have to be able to understand your brand very well and look to the needs of your community at the same time, always thinking win-win.
  • Companies should review their licensing strategies and become more versatile in licensing; combine different forms of IP; and partner more.

Technical field

Country

Main product

Business model

Pharmaceuticals

Philippines

Pharmaceutical solutions

Licensing

Unilab is the largest pharmaceutical company in Southeast Asia. It develops, manufactures and distributes pharmaceutical solutions. As of 2016, it has a market share of 25.1% in the Philippines, ahead of foreign multinational companies. This case study shows the industry dynamics and value chain in pharma, and highlights the importance of IP, collaboration and licensing models.

Type of material

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Video

HTB forum September 2021

Dispelix (waveguide displays - Finland)

Licensing as a great enabler of business efficiency

Takeaways

  • Licensing as a business model is a great enabler of business efficiency.
  • IP strategy is the starting point of business and plays an important role for the whole growth journey. Companies need to make sure the strategy is communicated well to stakeholders.
  • Building a culture of innovation is both a bottom-up and a top-down approach.
  • Be sure to use the work already done by others and the knowledge available.
  • Ensure a good and clear long-term relationship with public research institutions. Public funding/subsidies for first patent filings and prototyping are very important local supports for start-up businesses.

Technical field

Country

Main product

Business model

Waveguide displays

Finland

Nanophotonics

Licensing

Dispelix will change the way nanophotonics are designed and manufactured. It is a designer and fabless manufacturer of the first truly mass-manufacturable diffractive waveguide displays, which are at the core of how people can visually experience augmented reality. The company was founded in 2015 as a spin-off from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Dispelix employs 60 people and has raised over €30m of funding.

Dispelix designs, sells and supplies branded waveguide displays to product owners and their suppliers. The company also designs customised waveguide displays and licenses its intellectual property to selected customers that develop game-changing products for mainstream augmented reality markets, such as high-end AR eyewear.

Type of material

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Video

HTB forum February 2021

Growth financing

Roboze (additive manufacturing - Italy)

Reshaping the manufacturing industry

Takeaways

  • Take charge of your IP strategy early on and regularly evaluate implementation. Integrate IP expertise into your company from the start.
  • Protect your IP across both devices and consumables (razor and blade model) in line with market regulations and customer loyalty.
  • Learn from history in the area of IP 3D printing to optimise patent-filing time in immature markets.
  • Focus on continuous innovation. Build a team that recognises patentable technologies and uses short innovation cycles to deter copycats.
Technical field
CountryMain product
Business model
Additive manufacturing
Italy 3D printing
Growth financing

Roboze is reshaping the manufacturing industry and revolutionising the world of 3D printing. The company's high-precision technology is capable of processing super polymers and composite materials into finished functional parts for use in the most extreme conditions and sectors. Through its Roboze 3D Parts global service network, the company enables the production of custom finished parts on demand and just in time, enabling its customers to reduce cost and time by shortening the steps in their supply chain and digitalising their inventory.

Type of materialDownload
Video
HTB forum March 2022

Plasmapp (medical electronics - South Korea)

Using IP to create lasting value

Takeaways

  • Treat IP as your "insurance policy" in case your business is not (yet) developing as planned.
  • Hope for the best for your company, but plan for the worst: use IP to create lasting value.
  • IP provides optionality - your initial business plans might not work out as expected, but an IP portfolio will give you options.
  • It's not the number of patents that makes your portfolio valuable, but rather the solidity of your patent strategy.
  • Use IP as a pillar to build your business on while developing great products and bringing them to market.
  • Policymakers should not focus on giving money to high-growth tech businesses, but should instead provide them with IP expertise and strategy support.

Technical field

Country

Main product

Business model

Medical electronics

South Korea

Plasma technologies

Growth financing

Plasmapp is an innovative manufacturing company specialising in plasma technologies and originated at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). Based on this technology, Plasmapp has devised a novel plasma steriliser for medical tools. This technology is made possible by packaging pouches, which feature a fast sterilisation cycle time, and allow sterilisation to be completed at a low temperature. Furthermore, plasma sterilisation is free from toxic gas, making the process eco-friendly and harmless. Plasmapp was founded in 2015 and has attracted $50m in funding. Plasmapp has submitted 128 patent applications in Asia, Europe and the USA, with 43 patents registered to date, and was commended by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy for Excellence in IP Management.

Type of material

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Video

HTB forum October 2021

DyeMansion (additive manufacturing - Germany)

IP as key currency

Takeaways

  • Treat IP as your key currency, creating and protecting value for your company, helping to attract investments and defending against competitors.
  • Invest time and effort in building an IP portfolio as early as possible. Make sure you have someone in the team to drive this and get support from experts.
  • Don't postpone protecting your inventions until your product is ready or even validated in the market - it might be too late.
  • Carefully consider how to protect your IP: through patents, trade secrets, etc., or defensive publication.
  • Use a cost-effective IP protection strategy, leveraging the international treaties on priority filing of patents.
  • Approach investors that appreciate your IP strategy. First patent filings and prototyping are very important local supports for start-up businesses.

Technical field

Country

Main product

Business model

Additive manufacturing

Germany

Colouring system for 3D-printed plastics

Growth financing

DyeMansion is a 3D printing company turning raw materials into high-value products. DyeMansion launched the first industrial colouring system for 3D-printed plastics in 2015. Today, DyeMansion has become one of the leaders in additive manufacturing finishing systems for 3D-printed plastics, delivering a full print-to-product workflow (hardware and processes) to "turn 3D-printed raw parts into high-value products". From perfect-fit eyewear to personalised car interiors, their technology establishes 3D-printed products as a part of our everyday lives.

Type of material

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Video

HTB forum February 2021

Build-to-sell

Kindred Bravely (fashion, e-commerce - USA) 

Building a strong brand

Takeaways

  • You should cherish your customers, not just your products and services.
  • Patents aren't exclusive to rocket science - any product that solves a problem can be patented, even an item of clothing. This is an important step to owning your innovation.
  • The best way to build a company and create substantial sale value is to develop an IP portfolio, combining brand, patents and team operational excellence.
  • A customer-focused culture supported by a strong team enables companies to grow over and above what owners alone can achieve.
  • Private equity investment allows owners to secure a portion of their company's value while continuing to build up the company for either a larger, more sustainable exit or an IPO.
  • Start early on with creating intellectual assets and ring-fencing your key products in target  markets.
  • Innovating is all about trial and error. Only after you've dared to try something can you  think about how to protect it. Some innovations will succeed, and some will not, and that's perfectly OK.
  • Getting patents early, and using "patent pending", can extend the life of your invention and help attract investors or buyers for your company.
  • Understanding and meeting unmet customer needs underpins innovation and can be the driver for successful entrepreneurship and business development.
  • Sustainable success is not just about getting the core business fundamentals right, but also about getting the human dimension of your team right.
Technical field
CountryMain product
Business model
Fashion, e-commerce
USA Nursing clothing
Build to sell

Kindred Bravely was born in 2015 out of a need to provide mothers with beautiful, practical and comfortable maternity and nursing clothing. Building a strong brand enabled the company to become one of the eight fastest-growing online retailers on Shopify and reach number 20 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing, privately-held companies in the United States. Perhaps unusually for a clothing company, patents have been an important value driver for the business. Selling part of the business to a private equity firm in 2021 has also helped to take the company to the next level.

Type of material
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Video
HTB forum March 2022

Dr Paul Atherton (fibre optics, energy storage, biotechnology - UK)

Passion as a driver for success

Takeaways

  • When it comes to patent enforcement, you need to choose your battles wisely - know when to fight and when to fold and make a deal.
  • Proactive patent litigation can be a powerful tool to achieve business results, provided that you consider the situation of your counterpart and your financial capabilities to sustain a fight.
  • Disputes over intellectual property should be less about who is right or wrong, or who wins or loses, and more about achieving a workable outcome that will create value.
  • The passion of founders for their businesses can be an important driver of success.
  • Serial entrepreneurship as an "investing chairman" can be a highly rewarding pathway for founders who have sold their first business.

Technical field

Country

Main product

Business model

Fibre optics, energy storage, biotechnology

UK

High-tech companies

Build-to-sell

The live case study features Dr Paul Atherton and his life as one of the most successful serial technology entrepreneurs in the UK with serial exits. He has already sold four high-tech companies that he has built, and is currently building five more. One of his companies sold for over $200m, and one for over $500m. Paul shares his experience with three of his high-tech companies (Queensgate Instruments, Nexeon and Phasefocus): one with no patents and built around operational excellence; one built around a portfolio of patents; and one built around one core patent. Paul's experience reflects how the company situation and the market should determine the ever-evolving patent strategy.

Type of material

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Video

HTB forum November 2021

APS Technology Group (electrical machinery, software - USA)

Successfully building a company for an exit

Takeaways

  • Hire the best people possible early on and pay them well.
  • Building to sell allows you to increase purchase price, reduce escrow holdback and secure an earnout.
  • Intellectual asset management is the key to successful technology commercialisation, no matter whether the goal is the sale of your products, or the sale of your company.
  • Intellectual assets can have a massive impact on the money received from an exit.

Technical field

Country

Main product

Business model

Electrical machinery, software

USA

Measurement and drilling solutions

Build-to-sell

The live case study features Russ Scheppmann and his experience in building APS Technology Group (APS) from a small start-up into a global enterprise and a global player in the space of shipping container automation over 11 years. Russ talks about how APS developed and acquired its intellectual assets and built its management team and operational excellence, and how and why he decided to spin off and keep part of his business for himself, all in an effort to attract ABB, a leading global technology company. Russ highlights his best decisions and offers insights on how to successfully prepare a business for an exit. The live case study is preceded by two lectures and an expert panel discussion related to the build-to-sell topic.

Type of material

Download

Video

HGE Assembly Executive Conference 2021

Bender MedSystems (biotechnology - Austria)

A demand-driven build-to-sell model for a successful exit

Takeaways

  • Selling your company and creating a future for your employees are not mutually exclusive.
  • Investing early on in solid future-proof scalable systems and processes in high-growth technology businesses pays off in the long run.
  • A successful exit requires a demand-driven build-to-sell model, where the needs of the potential buyers, like a solid intellectual asset portfolio, are put at the centre of the business strategy.
  • A company that can run itself without the owner is far more valuable and attractive than one that is dependent on the owner.
  • Operational excellence including trade secrets is the key intellectual asset to secure the future of your employees after an exit.

Technical field

Country

Main product

Business model

Biotechnology

Austria

Reagents

Build-to-sell

The live case study features Michael Schaude describing his journey from 1998 until 2009, building Bender MedSystems (BMS) from a small management buy-out into a leading entity in a small niche in the global research reagents market with a clear focus on moving towards an exit. Not only was the company successfully sold to eBioscience (USA) in 2009, but the Austrian entity also continued to flourish in its original location in Vienna (Austria) despite the sale of eBioscience to Affymetrix (USA) in 2011 and the sale of Affymetrix to Thermo Fisher (USA) in 2016. This case study addresses how building strong operational excellence combined with intellectual assets has not only laid the foundation for a successful sale of BMS, but has also secured the future of the employees beyond the exit until today. The future of BMS' long-time employees and its continuation as an Austrian business were very important for Michael.

Type of material

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Article

Video

HTB forum February 2021

Open innovation

Philips (Medical devices - the Netherlands)

Creating a culture of collaboration to drive open innovation

One key area of open innovation for technology SMEs is collaborating with large firms in their industry. Philips has for many years had an open innovation ecosystem designed to foster collaboration with small technology firms as a source innovation. In this case study, Stephanie van Wermeskerken, Head of HealthTech at Philips, will explore the open innovation collaboration between Philips and a technology SME and discuss the IP management issues that are needed to support the business goals of both firms.

Free online seminar on 15 June at 15.00 hrs CEST.

The live case studies have been featured at the EPO-LESI High-growth technology business (HTB) forums.

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed in the case studies are those of the speakers or the companies concerned and not necessarily those of the European Patent Office.

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