Commodity Industries Fear Change

Do you have an amazing innovation that will improve productivity? Struggling to get a company involved in a commodity market to adopt your new innovation? “Resourcing the Future” 2013 Annual LESANZ Conference was a great place to learn about strategies to increase adoption and more… (http://lesanzconference.org.au/)

We learnt that this resistance may solely be due to fear. Fear of what? The answer: perceived integration risk. A fragile linear supply chain, full of sequential projects that currently work perfectly together to keep the companies below the cost curve and profitable. Potential downtime of a sequential step causes delays and will cut the profit margin. Some would say that this is very short term thinking.

Physics is the fundamental driver of mining and the fear of unintended consequence causes this resistance. It is thought that once all the easy areas are mined, the companies will move country – as early as five years away. For the Australian Mining Industry to stay competitive they will need to change and adopt new innovations now. Apparently it could take 15 years for the mining industry to adopt, if this is the case, if it’s not already adopted – then we are already too late.

Two potential strategies were suggested, 1) Partnering and licensing to existing companies that are already established and working with the fragile mining system and/or 2) decouple the perceived risk through demonstration in a working system.

Collaboration, partnering and licensing to de-risk innovation became a common theme of the conference. Other takeaways included:

  1. Data analytics is gaining traction in the resource industries, where “big data” is considered an important intellectual asset. Proprietary algorithms are considered very valuable.
  2. UK has a new popular tax incentive for companies coming into affect this year – Patent Box. This offers a lower tax rate on profits from a patented process. To be eligible the invention must be a granted patented in the EU and has to at least be an active subsidiary in the UK. Apparently GSK and ARM are already investing heavily due to the announcement of this scheme. (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ct/forms-rates/claims/patent-box.htm)
  3. Clear differences between Australian, USA, European and Chinese law; in an international licensing agreement you cannot rely on Australian Law.

The LESANZ Conference was a valuable experience, much was learnt and many connections in the licensing field gained. Next year the “Ideas. Create. Prosperity” 2014 Annual LESANZ Conference is going to be held in Perth, 20-22 March. (https://lesanz.org.au/realmevents/conference.html)

For more information contact

Lisa van den Berg – Commercial Manager

The AUTM Annual Meeting Wrap Up

The annual AUTM (Association of University Technology Managers) conference has wrapped up for another year following 4 days of intensive seminars, workshops and networking events. Sunny San Antonio provided a welcome break from the Brisbane’s inclement weather of late February as well as being friendly and hassle free host city with no shortage of vibrant cafes, restaurants and bars along its famous river walk (see picture on right).San AntonioThe conference provided an excellent opportunity to network with our peers, predominantly US based, in the technology transfer profession and to hear about both successful and unsuccessful models that have been employed outside of Australia. Kate and I met a vast range of tech transfer industry professionals from Managing Directors of offices that had 50+ employees down to newly formed tech transfer offices with only a handful of employees. Despite the great differences in organisational structure, the many challenges in transferring innovation from academia to industry were consistent to nearly all.

Beyond the general models of technology transfer, there were quite a number of focused interactive sessions encouraging attendees to share their successes and failures on topical issues such as; developing mobile device applications, plant biotech and physical sciences. There was a general tendency for tech transfer offices in the US to seek patent protection and spin-out companies at a much earlier stage than that typically seen at Australian tech transfer offices. This could be in part attributed to generous patenting budget allocations, a greater appetite for risk within many US universities and also greater access to sources of early stage seed and venture capital. Never-the-less with the U.S. economy beginning to show signs of recovery there was an air of optimism that the market’s appetite for taking on risk in early stage new technologies may again be on the up following a slow couple of years.

For more information, contact

Anthony Musumeci – Commercial Manger