Our second article on IP management (first article here) in open innovation explains some of the common practices and agreements that companies use in order to protect their IP rights and ensure confidentiality.
The parties engaged in open innovation might decide to sign a consortium agreement, establish joint ownership or to engage in knowledge transfer via licensing and other contractual mechanisms.
As explained by the European IPR Helpdesk, consortium agreements are usually signed when large companies, SMEs and research and technology organisations (RTOs) decide to openly innovate together. The agreement identifies the IP owned by each party before the project, allocates IP ownership generated during the project and defines the IP access rights necessary for project execution.
On the other hand, joint ownership is usually put into practice in joint ventures and it identifies the following essential IP issues regarding jointly owned assets:
Licensing can be carried out in two ways: licensing-in and licensing-out. In the first scenario, a company is granted access to a third party’s knowledge, and in the second case, a company puts its own knowledge at the third party's disposal.
Another form of knowledge transfer is assignment of IP. The assignment occurs when a company that owns the IP (the assignor) transfers the ownership of an intellectual property right to another party (the assignee).
In any type of knowledge transfer, it is essential to evaluate the economic value of the IP rights owned by partners in order to conclude a fair agreement. In order to do this, partners might conduct an IP audit process which helps them set the IP development strategy, evaluate risks of their partners’ IP assets and reduce the risks of infringement.
European Startup Network
As more and more companies openly collaborate and innovate with third parties, the question of proper intellectual property (IP) management arises. The companies have to rethink their innovation models and strike a balance between what knowledge they share with partners and stakeholders and what they can gain from collaborations with them.
If a company manages poorly its relations with external stakeholders, it can be at risk of distributing confidential information related to its intellectual property and losing profits from innovation.
According to the European IPR Helpdesk, open innovation can be carried out in various forms, such as:
In order to protect their assets and maximize future gains from open innovation, companies should implement internal IP protection measures in the early stages of collaboration. This can be accomplished by:
When collaborating, parties often disclose know-how and technologies that have not been protected yet. To avoid potential misuse of such information, it is highly recommended to conclude a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that establishes the conditions of collaboration and sharing of sensitive information between partners.
European Startup Network
START UPS (NGO and economic ones) TO FIGHT PANDEMIA
Nearly 21.000 participants gathered at the EUvsVirus Hackathon, an initiative led by the European Innovation Council during the 24-26 weekend of April to fight the effects of COVID-19. “Over 2,150 solutions were submitted in areas including health and life (898), business continuity (381), remote working and education (270), social and political cohesion (452), digital finance (75) and other challenges (83). Germany (389), Italy (320) and Spain (315) submitted the highest number of solutions, which range from a ‘modular micro factory’ to a ‘natural language processing system for medical reporting.”
Several mentors from University of Deusto had the opportunity to take part in the initiative.
MATCHING START UPS AND COMPANIES
Later on, a Matchaton was being hold during a 22-25 extended weekend of May to join start ups and investors.
One of the tools that we have had the opportunity to know during the EUvsVirus Matchathon is the Co-Innovation Builder Toolbox designed under the Corship-Corporate edupreneurship.
This is the first prototype of the tool that offers a model of relationship to startups and existing companies to foster open innovation, simple and effective canvas:
Both sides clarify expectations and goals, define roles, contributions and resources and in doing so they can easily define the agreement under 5 variables: goals, format, outcomes, risks and KPIs.
Corship also offers a free MOOC to train users of the canvas.
Collaboration between start ups and companies could be more effective for the whole ecosystem (quicker and cheaper) if done properly.
Upskilling lab 4.0 is developing the main skills that both sides should exert for a successful collaboration.
Industry 4.0 enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT) allows for the integration of people, assets and applications within a company. It also contributes to the integration of a company with its wider ecosystem, which probably consists of customers, subcontractors, suppliers and R&D partners.
Major trends that encourage Industry 4.0 are shorter product and service lifecycles and therefore the need to speed up time to market. Thus, the need for innovation will be increased. It might bring organisations to their limit in terms of innovation capacity and capabilities internally. Open Innovation can be an approach to master the innovation game and to stay competitive in fast-changing markets.
The term Open Innovation was coined by Henry Chesbrough, a professor at UC Berkeley`s Haas Business School. In his definition it is “the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation and to expand the markets for external use of innovation”. This is based on the acknowledgement that knowledge and experience within an organisation is limited and that internal regulations/processes might even cause further limitations to evoke innovation.
The most prominent challenge that comes along with Open Innovation is how to handle the intellectual property (IP). The collaboration with third parties in innovation could create conflicts about IP ownership and raise the question of which part of the innovation will be owned by whom.
Thus, it is a good idea to have a contractual regulation between the organisations for the processes of open and connected innovation fostered by Industry 4.0. There could be also a framework agreement between the organisations, that will set the rules under which joint innovation will take place.
Different from the traditional R&D business model that keeps all the information internal, companies who embrace Open Innovation let the door open and ask for external ideas to solve their current business challenges more efficiently.
According to the article Could Open Innovation save the world? (Fitzgerald, 2020), there are few aspects that Open Innovation can bring benefits to the company:
However, not merely more companies are participating in the Open Innovation programme because the payoff is not always clear and also it is difficult for companies to identify which business solutions can create value for all the stakeholders. The author in the article suggested that companies should focus on the overall ROI created by open innovation rather than the individual return of each solution.
Responding to the title of the article, can Open Innovation really save the world” our answer might be yes, but the problem lies in how to make it happen.
In the Upskilling Lab 4.0 project, we will develop a robust model of collaboration between startups and corporates, the skill development network to make more Open Innovation and collaboration happen.
European Startup Network