During 2019 Quantum Leap IP guided and supported an important company in the Aerospace, Security and Defense sector in a process of technology transfer to an Italian SME, implemented to enhance the intellectual property of the company holding the patent for new markets.
This activity is certainly a relevant case of technology transfer success, but it also denotes a much broader and farsighted vision aimed at building a solid supply chain and a great opportunity to accelerate the economic growth of our country, creating a national innovation system that focuses on on systemic and structured collaboration between large companies and SMEs.
In fact, in this technology transfer experience it was possible to support the company for the dismissal of its patent in a civil sector far from what is its core business, outlining innovative scenarios capable of intercepting important opportunities available outside of its own specific industrial perimeter.
The patent licensed by PMI, present for years on the market for worker safety solutions against accidents, relates to a system for monitor the correct use of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) by operators to ensure regulated access to the work areas.
In the activity that led to the dismissal of the patent, all the participants were present elements typical of a process of technological transfer: technological excellence, patent protection, identification of a reference market different from that of the core business activities of the patent holder, strategic valorisation of Intellectual Property.
The activities carried out by Quantum Leap, in support of the team of experts who led the technology transfer process, can be summarized as follows:
- Preliminary technological analysis of the inventive solution: the analysis carried out at a preliminary level of various available technologies has led to considering the technology in question among the high priority patents, as it is among the most interesting and able to enter a secondary reference market, different from those in which it typically operates the company;
- Due Diligence: Quantum Leap has subsequently completed a more thorough due diligence able to define the reference market, the competing technologies already on the market and the main operators present on the national and international scene which, downstream of a brokerage activity, were considered as the main buyers of the patent;
- Economic evaluation: The economic evaluation phase was conducted in order to obtain a greater awareness of the intellectual property assets in question in terms of economic value and for the purposes of a possible commercialization of the same. The analysis was carried out using a technique designed to implement two methodologies: a qualitative one, aimed at evaluating the patent in terms of robustness and impact, and a quantitative one, aimed at evaluating the patent through an analytical process aimed at defining a sustainable economic range.
- Evaluation of legal robustness through FTO: once the possible SME licensee was chosen from among the companies that had expressed interest, the patent was evaluated in terms of its legal robustness and a further analysis was carried out, namely the FTO (Freedom To Operate) in synergy with the consultants of the SME and in a total collaborative approach. It was agreed on the solidity of the patent and on the possibility of circumventing any risks related to protection thanks also to the activities of prototype development and customization, which will certainly give rise to new invention patents and a new protection activity
- Choice of business model : As a business model it was decided to define an exclusive licensing agreement for the specific sector and market, leaving the patent holder free to license the patent to other industrial realities in different sectors and in different territories.
In this way, the patent holder was able to explore opportunities far from his core business by strategically exploiting the company's intellectual property, without increasing costs, but relying on the capacity to enhance intellectual property related to the licensed technology.
Some observations deserve particular relevance:
- among the many expressions of interest, that of an Italian SME that produces clothing and accessories for the safety of the worker was preferred, since it is considered the most consistent and interested in concluding the agreement, from here it was then continued with the negotiation phases;
- the patent holder has been available to support the development phases and to promote the resulting final product.
This model is, of course, confirmation of how a small company can compete on a national and international scale thanks to the synergy with the research, facilitated by the technology transfer tools, which can lead to a model win-win both for large industry, small business, but also for research and the state.