Posts tagged as:

licensing and collaboration

I’m spending at few days at the EIROForum meeting on technology transfer in Heidelberg. The EIROFoum is probably not well-known outside part of the scientific community. It groups together European Intergovernmental Research Organisations, such as CERN and EMBL.

Gabór Lamm from EMBL’s technology transfer arm EMBL-EM has just given a fascinating lecture outlining technology transfer. EMBL’s first patent was filed in 1990 but it was not until 1996 that a formal policy on intellectual property was established. The specialised technology transfer unit was only set up 1999 to commercialise intellectual property coming out of EMBL’s main campus in Heidelberg, as well as its outstations in Grenoble, Hinxton and Hamburg. Since then EMBL has filed over 250 patents and patent applications, protected 71 copyrights, which includes database rights, and set up 12 companies. They currently have an annual revenue of EUR 4,5 Million which more than covers expenses.

One of the most interesting points that came out of the lecture was the motivation of the individual researchers to file patents. The financial reward is attractive (30% of revenue, excluding direct patent costs) but more importantly is the expectation from researchers from outside of Europe for a functioning IP management organisation. This seems to contrast – as one questioner pointed out later in another context – with the attitude of some European researchers that intellectual property rights somehow jeopardize academic freedom.

Gabór noted that part of the mission of EMBL is to transfer technology to improve human health. This requires commercial companies (and EMBL have over 250 licencees). There has in the past been criticism that only 56% of the licencees come from Europe (and 20% from EMBL’s host country, Germany). 33% of the licencees come from the United States.

Interestingly EMBL-EM “broke even” in 2004 at which point the net revenues exceeded the expenses. Gabór Lamm noted that this was helped by the IPO of Lion Bioscience (now Sgnis Pharma AG). However, the annual licensing revenue now exceeds patenting costs.

One of the things that struck me about Gabór Lamm’s presentation was the contined need to invest in technology transfer and train scientists and engineers of the benefits to themselves personally and how technology transfer actually contributes to society. Technology transfer cannot be seen to be “merely” a cost factor – but immediate financial benefits cannot be expected. It took five years for EMBL to obtain a net profit from technology transfer – or 14 from the date of the first patent – and that was helped by the opportunity to commercialise a database in a very favourable investment climate.


ARM and IP

by Andrew Watson on 17 February 2009

Great article in the Times yesterday about ARM, including an interview with CEO Warren East: Warren East: ARM believes its strength lies in sharing. ARM is doing well, despite the current economic crisis, largely due to thinking well ahead in terms of the next generations of product. ARM relies heavily on R&D and licensing as part of its business model:

ARM has no plans to get into the manufacture or sale of semiconductor chips. Mr East said: “The unique thing about ARM is the combination of the business model and the technology. We have the lowest-power microprocessors there are and, rather than trying to be an Intel and rule the world, we share our revenue. We believe it is better to have a small slice of a big pie.”

That pretty much sums up what it means to be an R&D business with a tight IP strategy.


IAM’s hunt for the top 100 IP strategists

September 10, 2008

Intellectual Asset Magazine (IAM) is on the hunt for the top 100 global IP strategists. In response, the IPEG Blog, from the folks at the Intellectual Property Expert Group, asks the question: How does [strategy as “direction and scope of an organization over the long-term”] work in “intellectual property strategy”, so, in other words, how […]

Read the full article →