How Companies Can Use Patent Solutions To Enter New Technology Domains
Companies often have enough technical expertise to expand over various business segments. Using patent insights can prove to be effective in cases where a company is looking to expand into new technology areas. Patent research and analysis can help such companies take business decisions at various stages of the expansion. This is particularly useful in mergers and acquisitions. In this article, we will cover how a company can use patent research and analysis to be better prepared when entering new technology domains.
Routes for Expansion
There can be various routes that a company may take to reach its desired goal. The decisions can be based upon the existing expertise of the company, competition in the market, maturation state of the technology, etc. Let us look at the possible routes for expansion:
- Mergers & Acquisitions of technology
The most straightforward way for a company to expand into a new business segment is to acquire a smaller company or a start-up having the required technology. Acquisitions are complicated processes and require extensive research and due diligence.
- Starting a new R&D segment
In some situations, a company has foundational know-how and technologies to expand into a peripheral business segment. IP research and analysis can help in determining white spaces and or new technologies that can be used for setting up of the R&D unit.
- Collaboration with universities/companies
Research collaborations can prove to be one of the most fruitful ways of developing technologies/products to expand into new business segments.
Patent Solutions to Support Mergers & Acquisition Decisions
1. Tech Scouting (IP and non-IP landscape)
Technology Scouting is the process of identifying, analysing, and evaluating all existing inventions that are necessary to start, complement or accelerate the development of a new technology/product. A comprehensive and detailed technology scouting reveals all the major facets related to a technology including key patents, competitor’s activity in the domain, research activity by universities or the overall activity of various organizations operating in that particular domain.
Technology scouting provides viable acquisition opportunities, in the form of patent portfolios, research and/or platform technologies that can be leveraged to develop a new business segments that the company is looking to expand into. The following information can prove to be very helpful:
- Start-ups with upcoming technologies: In the present ecosystem, start-ups have been at the fore front of innovation. SMEs have been disrupting technology domains across industries and thus identifying such companies and acquiring them is possibly the best route for a company while entering a new technology domain. Technology scouting helps identify potential acquisition target that aligns with the existing expertise and values of the company. Next steps for ascertaining best-fit can be taken once few potential targets have been identified.
- Platform Technology/Patent Portfolios: In some cases, acquisition of IP related to a platform technology or an entire patent portfolio related to a complete technology may be sufficient for a company to enter a new technology domain without acquiring the company. This eliminates the hassles that accompany an acquisition situation.
- Technology Trends from Technology Clusters: A technology scouting process could help companies identify various trends of a particular technology. This helps companies make informed decisions about which technologies to acquire and what solutions to implement. A comprehensive scouting process helps identify cracks in glorified solutions that might be popular in the market ensuring that the acquisition target aligns with the company in all facets such as technical and cultural fit.
2. Technology Evaluation/Due Diligence
Technology Evaluation is a set of principles, methods, techniques or tools for effectively assessing the potential value of an invention (patented or non-patented) and its commercialization. A thorough evaluation assesses the invention’s value from technical, market and legal perspectives and reconciles the results within a valid methodology.
Once a list of potential acquisition targets have been identified, evaluation and diligence is crucial to ascertain a best fit. The services relating to technology evaluation come in handy at this stage. A technology evaluation helps in determining whether the acquisition target is the best choice, and it also evaluates its potential. The following information can prove to be very helpful:
- Development Status/Market Readiness: Understanding the current status & readiness of the technology under evaluation is a foundational step in due diligence. The evaluation process ensures to check validity studies, identify the certifications and regulatory approvals, perform primary research (if required) to understand the market requirement/perception and overall summarise the considerations for successful commercialisation of the technology.
- Competitive Landscape: For any business decision, understanding the competitive landscape is always a critical step. This step ensures that the market share and technology details of the competitors have been highlighted and their strategies have been analysed. The value add of the landscape is further expanded by identifying alternative solutions (to the technology under evaluation) and then preparing a comparative analysis based on technical and business parameters.
- Evaluation/Position of the technology: From the point of view of the acquirer, understanding the pros and cons of the technology offered by the acquisition target is the most valuable aspect of a technology evaluation report. A SWOT analysis clarifies the relative position of the technology with respect to the competition and thus helps in making a well-informed decision.
- Challenges, Risks & Recommendations: The summary of a technology evaluation chalks down the challenges, risks, as well as recommendations with respect to the technology. This is the most important outcome of the process as it summarises the technical, socio-economic and market barriers for the technology and also highlights the associated risks. A comprehensive diligence report will also be able to provide recommendations and next steps for the acquisition and decision-making process.
Overall, the patent solutions discussed above provide extensive insights and solutions to help companies take business decisions when looking to expand into business segments. Both patent and market data are important indicators of technology trends, existing problems and potential solutions. These solutions support business decisions at various stages of the decision-making process.
To download our Technology Scouting Sample Report, please click here.
To know about Patent Solutions for the next two routes (starting a new R&D segment and collaborations with universities/companies), please follow our upcoming articles in this series.
-Harsha Agarwal (Life Sciences) and the Editorial Team