Optimising R&D and innovation is a problem which concerns a growing number of entities. All measures aimed at achieving this optimisation, from a multidisciplinary planning of projects to a comprehensive portfolio management, involve essential Intellectual Property measures.
Interest in optimising investment in R&D and innovation, and effectively translating this into marketable international developments, has concerned certain sectors such as the pharmaceutical one, for decades. However, this need is increasingly pressing in many other activities and types of organisation, such as public research centres or universities. There are a growing number of entities which, despite carrying out organised project-oriented research, feel the need to make their R&D and innovation fully integrated into their business activity.
There is not just one way to optimise R&D and innovation, although there are certain basic practices which have become increasingly common and which should be highlighted: multidisciplinary project planning and management, and comprehensive project portfolio management. They both involve specific treatment and use of Intellectual Property rights, which is essential for implementing and managing them correctly:
1) Multidisciplinary planning and management of R&D and innovation projects
In many organisations, research projects originate in R&D and innovation departments, while other functions are not included in the process until the development stage is fairly advanced. However, every optimisation strategy should include project planning which envisages not only the necessary scientific activity, but also all those activities required for marketing the results in the context of their geographical and competitive positioning.
From the point of view of the Intellectual Property rights, this planning involves two key aspects:
– Correct identification of each projects competitive context: it is essential to have a good awareness of the state-of-the-art of each project and to update this knowledge by analysing data, documents and scientific publications from before and during the process. This will allow us not only to avoid achieving redundant results, but also to know the technological and commercial positioning of the developments obtained and the opportunities which they offer. In addition, ongoing monitoring will help to avoid infringements and objections, thus reducing future protection and defence costs.
– Early definition of the protection strategy to be followed: it must be perfectly aligned with the commercial exploitation strategy, both on a geographical and a competitive level. Accordingly, it is essential to bear in mind from the start of the project the most suitable type of protection for the results, the time periods necessary and the defensive measures to be used throughout the process.
2) Comprehensive management of the organisations project portfolio
In larger organisations, it is essential to manage all projects together so as to use resources efficiently. It is not enough to simply collect information on each projects planning and state of progress. It is essential that the projects as a whole offer a realistic, achievable vision which is aligned with the entitys general strategy. Only through regular reviews will it be possible to correctly forecast R&D and innovation costs, as well as to balance the risks inherent to different projects so as to optimise the results as a whole.
This comprehensive management also necessarily includes periodic audits of the knowledge generated which guarantees that:
– All technical improvements obtained are correctly identified and protected before it is too late
– The value of the Intellectual Property generated by each product is estimated correctly, thus making it possible to identify those projects and developments with greater potential for the organisation
– The level of protection obtained for the most valuable developments is high and aligned with the future exploitation strategy