Innovation Scouting – A Path for Companies to Innovate Better

The intellectual property (IP) sector is characterized by high competition. So it becomes vital for companies to observe changes and developments in technological markets. It helps them to identify innovative and game-changing opportunities to strike new partnerships with other players. By enabling businesses to achieve these objectives, innovation scouting helps in assessing the potential of converting an idea into a product. It also include ways to implement such ideas and make strategic decisions.

What is Innovation Scouting?

The term ‘innovation scouting’ originates from two different words – open innovation and technology scouting. Open innovation is a model implemented by companies/organizations to explore wide ranges of internal and external sources for innovation. It works in such a way that the ideas from individuals outside the organization are also considered for the betterment and success of the company.

On the other hand, technology scouting is a method implemented by a company to identify emerging technologies that can fill the gap between the tech and the IP portfolio of the company. For this process, the organization either hires professionals within or outsources the job to experts to find technologies related to the company portfolio. Technology scouting also helps in observing changes in the current setup, assessing the potential of various new ideas, and identifying new and upcoming trends for the organization. It helps them to find opportunities for new partnerships, acquisitions, licensing, and co-development initiatives.

With the origin of the term explained above, it can be said that innovation scouting combines multiple approaches for technology scouting and open innovation. It brings new ideas and technology to a company. Furthermore, innovation scouting can help in research and development (R&D), marketing, gathering insight on market trends and finding inventors.

Why Innovation Scouting?

  • Unlike technology scouting, innovation scouting has a broader approach to implement an idea rather than a technology.
  • It can help in gathering insights on new trends and emerging technologies in the market, to keep up with the competition.
  • To identify new IP to acquire or license.
  • To help find opportunities for new partnerships, acquisitions, licensing, and co-development initiatives.

IP and Innovation Scouting

Innovation and IP go hand in hand, wherein all product-based organizations work with IP such as patents. This collection of IP owned by a single entity is called IP portfolio, which comprises an integral part of a product-based organization. Having a strong IP portfolio is absolutely necessary for such an organization to outgrow its competitors, and innovation scouting can prove to be a beneficial method for them to do so.

To optimize the innovation scouting process and enhance quality, IP experts often help organizations to scout: potential competitors, emerging technologies in the gaps of their portfolio, individual inventors, and R&D facilities. This enables businesses to collaborate with other firms, inventors/technology developers, R&D facilities, and acquire or license any relevant IP.

The Innovation Scouting Process

Innovation scouting is a multi-step process that begins with understanding the problem. Every step in this process is equally important and must be performed efficiently to enhance overall results. The process has been briefly described in the figure below.

Innovation Scouting

Now it’s vital to understand that the innovation scouting process can be performed by using a variety of methods listed below. These methods, provided by strategic IP partners in the form of services, help organizations with their innovation needs such as scouting for new technologies.

  • Landscape Search
  • Technology Scouting
  • New Application Scouting

Landscape Search

There can be no innovation and competition without complete awareness of the technological environment. In order to develop disruptive technologies, one must possess details about the existing ones. Top market players in the industry sustain their competitive positions by understanding the evolution of any technology, and continuously analyzing new innovations to evaluate them with the ongoing ones.

A patent landscape search must offer an understanding of how a technology or industry is evolving and at the same time present an overview and analysis of patent information. Patent landscapes enable businesses to identify competition in filing, patenting strategy, new opportunities/threats in the domain, merger and acquisition possibilities, and technology white spaces. Patent landscape services provided by strategic partners can be used to understand the industry as well as identify the state-of-the-art technologies in it.

Landscape search is a great tool for technology scouting, R&D problem scouting, application and opportunity scouting, and trend and white space analysis.

Technology Scouting

Technology scouting can be defined as a method of technology forecasting or in a wider context – an element of corporate foresight. As the proliferation of technologies continues along with the growing complexity of products/services, it may no longer be possible for companies to innovate alone. That is why technology scouting and sourcing service providers offer the required support to businesses, helping them to achieve their goals.

Technology scouting aims at identifying relevant innovations including startups, university IP and accelerators that can be integrated with the respective business to boost innovation. The process is aimed at corporates, innovative start-ups, and technology companies.

This method for innovation scouting helps R&D units in their quest to innovate, enable researchers to do better research, and allows companies to expand their portfolio. Furthermore, technology scouting helps businesses to further develop their technologies by identifying not only patents but innovators and/or innovative companies that can be a potential target for partnerships or acquisitions.

New Application Scouting

Application scouting enables businesses to identify new application areas for the technologies owned by corporations and research institutes. Its aim is to strengthen and boost innovation, R&D strategy, and patent portfolios. Application scouting enables businesses to create market expansion strategies for existing technology portfolio. It allows the fabrication of expansion or licensing strategies that exponentially increase return on investment per innovation.

Application scouting analysis allows one to create competitive strategies by extending existing technologies to new applications. Furthermore, it boosts innovation for businesses by helping them to enter new markets and collaborate with relevant entities.

Final Thoughts

Innovation scouting combines technology scouting with open innovation methods to expand the approach to internal as well as external processes. This is done to identify not only technologies but any idea for success. Innovation scouting can help larger firms to collaborate with competitors, startups, or inventors to meet their needs as an industry.

Sagacious IP’s innovation scouting solutions can help companies enhance their portfolio, expand their business, improve processes, and maintain a competitive edge. Our team of qualified patent practitioners can help organizations to scout for new technologies and innovations in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

  • Harsha Agarwal (Life Sciences) and The Editorial Team

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