Note: This post is part of a series on how to cultivate your IP. View the start of the Cultivate Your IP series here.
Effectively managing the intellectual property (IP) portfolio requires being selective about where to direct your limited resources. Not every technology can (or should) go to market. So how do you determine which innovations are poised for commercialization success and which have low-potential and should be released/abandoned?
For the most efficient use of resources, the best practice is to start with a technology screening. Today we’ll consider what that involves.
Triage First to Check for Red Flags
When a technology first comes into the office — usually in the form of an invention disclosure — there is the preliminary step of confirming that the technology doesn’t have any major show-stoppers. Before investing any resources in screening the technology, you want to be sure, for example:
- That your organization owns the technology
- That there hasn’t been a public disclosure that precludes necessary patenting or other IP protection
- That the invention has been adequately reduced to practice (i.e., beyond the concept stage)
If no show-stoppers are identified, technology screening to determine commercialization potential can begin in earnest. But what does that entail?
Three Key Factors for Tech Transfer
The screening’s focus is on efficiently gathering and analyzing information to determine if making the investment involved in moving forward with commercialization is appropriate. The factors being analyzed about the technology during this initial screening are:
- Market: Is anyone going to be interested in this technology? The innovation can do XYZ but… who cares? Is it addressing a genuine need in the marketplace?
- Technology: How does this technology compare to what’s already out there (or under development)? What benefits does it have and how great is the need for those advantages? What additional development would be needed to make it attractive to the market?
- IP Protection: Does there appear to be a way to protect the innovation that would give a licensee sufficient competitive advantage to warrant their investment in taking it to market?
These factors form a three-legged stool for commercialization success. The information needed to evaluate these factors comes from gathering effective research and competitive intelligence using the right sources and effective keywords. Coupling this data with insightful analysis — using appropriate evaluation criteria, considering the IP landscape, focusing on market factors (rather than internal politics), etc. — yields an objective, comprehensive basis for decision making. The overall result is a sound, informed decision about whether the opportunity fits the market and whether pursuing commercialization is warranted.
Regardless of the findings, the final step is following up with the inventor/researcher(s) about the findings of the screening and what the next steps will be. Not only will you need their buy-in and involvement if commercialization is pursued, but the feedback on their technology (even if it’s released/abandoned) will inform their ongoing research and foster a positive relationship.
Well, for an innovation that passes the screening, the next phase is marketing preparation. This involves understanding the market in depth, developing the marketing plan and licensing strategy, and creating marketing collateral. We talk about how to ramp up to technology marketing here.
Technology screenings can be done in-house — in fact, this is a great place to put properly trained interns to work — or you can tap into the broad expertise, objective insights, and deep experience that comes with the Fuentek Initial Technology Review. Our FIT Review includes:
- An objective rating of the technology’s commercial potential, based on the analysis of data on the market need and IP landscape
- A market-ready technology description that can be used in marketing materials
- Clear next steps for heading into marketing and patenting (or other IP protection)
- A summary of our findings that can be easily shared with the inventor and other stakeholders
For more information about how our FIT Review can add value and support your efforts to cultivate your IP, contact us today.