The business of innovationback to issues

The technology landscape is constantly evolving, with knowledge flowing in many directions every day.  The private sector accounts for an estimated two-thirds of global R&D spend, and commercial channels are central to technology diffusion.  Below we post resources about trends in innovation across sectors, emerging technology solutions, business models and their evolution, challenges faced by innovators, and other factors that affect the development and commercialization of new solutions.

  • Impact Hub: Using Data to Address SDGs

    The Geneva Impact Hub has launched a new program to support entrepreneurs to leverage Big Data sets from the United Nations to develop innovative solutions for the SDGs. The program - "Big Data: Techpreneurs for Good" - will make hundreds of data sets from global humanitarian and international development organizations available to private sector actors with the skills, creativity, and business potential to use the data to develop new solutions to pressing public policy challenges. 

  • New Evidence on Licensing by Startups

    This article in Management Decision magazine, by Professors Paola Belingheri and Maria Isabella Leone, reviews licensing practices by startups. The authors consider in particular the use of in-licensing by startups to secure know-how at the start of their activities, looking also at how in-licensed knowledge and technologies are integrated into their internal innovation and strategic IP management processes. 

  • Singapore: New Billion-Dollar Investment Fund for Entrepreneurs

    In this article for the Business Times in Singapore, Claire Huang reports the launch of the "Makara Innovation Fund" (MIF) in Singapore. This is a new S$ 1b fund aimed at supporting promising small and medium-sized domestic companies with defensible IP, strong managerial talent and pan-Asian growth potential. The Fund is the result of a partnership between IP ValueLab (the enterprise-engagement arm of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore) and the Singaporean private equity firm Makara Capital. Focal areas for the Fund will include: urban solutions including logistics and security, Fintech, alternative energy, tech such as AI and cyber-security, and healthcare. Launch of this Fund is consistent with analysis by Singapore's Committee on the Future Economy, which identified innovation, commercialization of breakthroughs, and IP as key drivers of Singapore's economic growth.


  • South Africa: New Group B Strep Vaccine Partnership

    PATH, the Gates Foundation, and Biovac have announced a new partnership to develop a Group B Streptococcus vaccine specifically designed to protect mothers and babies in sub-Saharan countries where the disease is most prevalent. No licensed vaccines currently exist to protect against GBS infection. A GBS vaccine designed specifically for low-resource countries could provide a chance for all babies to get a healthy start in life. It could be given to pregnant mothers who would then pass on the protective antibodies to their babies, ensuring protection at birth and during the first critical months of life from GBS infection, which can kill and disable infected babies. As a result of this project, Biovac, which is a public-private partnership based in Cape Town, will be one of only three companies in the world and the only developing-country vaccine manufacturer to develop a novel conjugate vaccine against GBS. Inventprise, a Seattle-area biotech startup with experience in conjugate vaccine development, will provide initial technical support in order to ensure Biovac is well-positioned to manufacture a vaccine that targets sub-Saharan Africa and potentially other low-income regions of the world.

  • New Wireless Tech: Roads that Charge Electric Vehicles

    This article, by Fred Lambert of Electrek, presents Qualcomm's new technology solution for charging electric vehicles while they are driving on a road. The solution is called the "Qualcomm Halo" wireless electric vehicle charging technology (WEVC). It was recently tested on a special 100km-long track in France, with partners VEDECOM and Renault, and tests will be ongoing. The wireless system is capable of charging an electric vehicle dynamically at up to 20 kilowatts at highway speeds. In the test, Qualcomm Technologies demonstrated simultaneous charging, in which two vehicles on the same track charged dynamically at the same time, while also showing that the vehicles could charge while driving in either direction and in reverse (similar to real-world conditions). The author notes that while in the short term dynamic charging is not expected to be a key feature of the automobile industry's electric charging infrastructure, in the long-term it could be used on parts of highways to increase the on-road time of vehicles. 

  • DNDi IP Policy

    DNDi is a non-profit R&D organization, founded in Geneva in 2003, that works with partners to develop new treatments for neglected diseases. Here is a link to the organization's pragmatic IP Policy, which may be of interest to those following discussions of IP, health innovation, and access to health technologies. DNDi is home to GARDP (the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership), a joint WHO/DNDi initiative launched in 2016 that is focused on the development of new antibiotics for treating sepsis and STIs such as gonorrhoea. An important part of the work of DNDi, and of GARDP, is to ensure the broadest possible access to any products developed; this requires active engagement across the entire innovation value chain, including manufacture and distribution. 

  • India: Patenting in the Medical Devices Sector

    This paper by S. Markan and Y. Verma, from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, provides insights into innovation, patent filings, and business interests (both foreign and indigenous) in the Indian medical device sector. As it considers total filings in India, the analysis sheds light on the relative competitive positions of domestic and foreign innovators in the Indian medical device market. Over the past ten years, a rising number of patent filings in India was observed by the authors, who consider this a positive indicator of increasing IP awareness in the country. They attribute growing use of patents by domestic players, in part, to government programs to support promising health technology entrepreneurs. The authors conclude that there is "an immense potential and opportunity for the medical device sector to innovate across the value chain, to serve Indian and foreign consumers, and unlock the value of the Indian medical device market".


  • Accelerating Diagnosis of Asymptomatic Malaria

    The Global Good Fund and GE have signed a licensing agreement with the diagnostics technology company Access Bio to manufacture and distribute innovative diagnostic technologies for asymptomatic malaria. The agreement covers rapid diagnostic tests, along with serology tests that assess past exposure of a population to malaria. These technologies for malaria detection were co-developed by a team of scientists and engineers at GE’s Global Research Center and Global Good. GE Ventures, a GE entity dedicated to accelerating innovation and growth with partners, drove the commercialization model for the technology and the licensing agreement between GE, Global Good and Access Bio. The collaboration is expected to help global health workers to more rapidly identify asymptomatic malaria in low-resource regions around the world. Identifying these low-level infections is considered critical to directing efforts towards malaria elimination. Global Good is an initiative of Intellectual Ventures and Bill Gates.

  • SMEs: Insights for Successful Innovation Collaborations

    This short piece by Nick Rousseau of the organization Unconventional Connections, posted on the Global Innovation Index website, describes the challenges for SMEs of partnering to innovate and scale, and presents ideas for successfully managing such challenges. Suggestions include putting in place clear and agreed IP sharing agreements, being open on both sides about objectives of the collaboration, and working to build and maintain trust over time despite potential cultural differences. Dr Rousseau explores these and other approaches in more detail, noting that they are discussed further in the 2015 WEF report "Transforming Business, Driving Growth" which is cited in Chapter 8 of the 2017 Global Innovation Index. 


  • IP Protection for Blockchain

    This article by Shai Jalfin for IP Watchdog discusses IP management in relation to blockchain, the technology underlying bitcoin that provides a secure public ledger of digital financial transactions.  Mr Jalfin reviews the state of patenting in relation to blockchain, which at this time is concentrated around security measures like encryption, and the likely co-existence of open source and proprietary approaches as the technology evolves, among other issues.