6 November 2019
On 4 and 5 November 2019 the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI) held their first-ever joint conference focussed on the importance of IP to high-growth firms. The top-level hybrid conference and training event was attended by around 300 participants from 34 nations and organised in Dublin by the EPO’s European Patent Academy with the support of the government agency Enterprise Ireland. The event provided a platform for decision makers and IP managers at high-growth tech companies (namely start-ups and more classical SMEs) as well as their stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem to learn about business strategy and IP management.
LESI President Fiona Nicolson said: “As part of our memorandum of understanding with the EPO, LES International and LES Britain & Ireland are proud to help convene this important meeting on the business of IP among high-growth firms. We know that small firms are increasingly innovative in their licensing strategies and collaborating with other companies in their technology space on the way to the marketplace. This conference allows us to showcase and share these innovative practices.”
To provide participants with the latest expert insights into the field, EPO Chief Economist Yann Ménière summarised in his keynote the results of a new EPO study, exploring how SMEs commercialise their European patents in practice.
“Our research shows that SMEs rely on European patents to protect their high-potential inventions, two thirds of which they commercialise”, said Mr Ménière. “Half of these commercialised inventions are exploited in collaboration with an external partner via a licensing agreement, co-operation or technology spin-off. So we can see that SMEs are being increasingly innovative with their IP strategies.”
The EPO Chief Economist also maintained that measures are needed to make it easier for SMEs to access IP expertise and identify more market partners internationally: “This would help unleash the full power of patents and further enhance the performance of a new generation of European SMEs that is creatively leveraging their intellectual property rights to achieve high growth.”
Other expert speakers highlighted the necessity for stakeholders to develop their IP strategies and pool their expertise if they are to succeed in maximising the value of high-growth technology businesses, making deals happen, triggering open innovation and facilitating sustainable IP commercialisation. The interplay between market-driven developments and creative technological disruption, as well as the role of people as enablers, were further topics of the presentations.
Hands-on training was provided in areas such as how to market and license technology, IP negotiation, transaction-based growth, and the design and protection of digital business models. The event also provided an opportunity for participants to explore synergies between training opportunities created by the LESI-EPO co-operation and the 300 patent information centres spread regionally across the EPO's member states. Known as "PATLIB centres" (derived from PATent LIBrary) these centres are familiar with local industrial, economic and business landscapes, and provide services to entrepreneurs, SMEs, private inventors and students accordingly.
Finally, the event’s one-to-one IP clinics were well-attended and well-received in equal measure. Here participants could request advice on how IP-related issues can impact their business from specialists such as licensing and technology transfer professionals from the private and public sectors, and patent and trade mark attorneys.
Condensed summary videos and presentations from the conference lectures are due out shortly.