Remote control, intelligent heat diffusion system, six hour autonomy in eco mode, battery recharge on charge… Few would guess that this technical description corresponds to heated templates that allow regulating the temperature of the footwear from a mobile application. Is about Biotech Thermic, a product of Morón Group It will be available mid-year with the promise that there is nothing like it in the market. To ratify that originality, to make sure that something similar does not exist in China or the United States, its manufacturers kept their backs and hired Innovarty, an innovation consultancy whose services include the development of new products. "We facilitate the R & D of the companies, for which we not only investigate everything related to patents and registrations, but we also analyze the viability of the idea and define and execute the road map until we reach the final product", points out Alfonso Morant, founder and CEO of Innovarty.
In order to ensure that no one has ever launched a similar article or service, a specialized department of this consultancy analyzes "patented" the patents registered in the world and, in the case that something similar already exists, evaluates whether the idea that they have in hand provides a differential value. "Until we corroborate that our possible innovation does not clash with any legal protection we do not go ahead to avoid a failed exit to the market," says Morant.
Although that previous step is essential to bet on real disruptions that do not end up in broken bag to reinvent the wheel, many seem to ignore it. Not in vain, according to the information that manages Clarke, Modet & Co from own sources and data from the European Patent Office and its Spanish equivalent, currently around 25% of the investment in R & D in Europe could be devoted to redundant research, which translates into annual waste about 60,000 million euros. To get an idea of the dimension of the problem, according to the INE Total spending on R & D in Spain in 2017 it was 14,052 million euros.
- Outsource is not a matter of size
Benjamín Martínez, Director of Marketing, Alliances and Communication of Clarke, Modet & Co, highlights the importance of eliminating this risk through technological intelligence, that is, the set of research focused on industrial and intellectual property. These inquiries are aimed at preparing an FTO report (Freedom To Operate) that determines whether a product or procedure is subject in a country or region to the registration of a patent, a utility model, an industrial design or any other specific protection. "This step not only serves to contrast and test the novelty of a product, but also helps to locate the latest trends, to explore new business opportunities and reorient the research work," according to Martinez.
Clarke, Modet & Co has a consulting unit that performs this work of technological intelligence for companies of any size that decide to outsource this phase of their innovation cycle, from startups even SMEs and large accounts. Alfonso Morant, of Innovarty, corroborates that neither the size nor the sector are determining factors for outsourcing these services and notes that there are more and more large organizations that have "the need" to rely on firms specialized in this research and in other stages of the cycle of innovation to gain agility: "The bureaucracy that requires the internal development of some projects extends the R & D processes so much that when the product comes to market it may already be obsolete, so some companies outsource it or even create their own spin-offs to innovate faster. "
Even so, some large multinationals, such as HP, continue betting on taking the whole process from beginning to end. "This year we celebrate 80 years marked by a constant innovation that we continue to understand as defined by our founders, who said that if an idea did not contribute I could not leave the garage", remember Miguel Ángel Turrado, director of innovation for the company in Spain. In order to guarantee this maxim, one of HP's initiatives is the exclusive dedication of an area of its R & D center in Sant Cugat del Vallès (Barcelona) to design new products together with its customers. "We invite them to our facilities, we listen to them and we work hand in hand in the conception of new ideas on which our engineers then apply all their knowledge to develop them", according to Turrado.
At this point, the HP manager recognizes the role of the Intellectual Property Department of his company, which operates everything necessary to comply with the protection and defense rules that then ensure adequate market access. Once resolved the research work in technological intelligence, Turrado stresses that the very disruptions of recent years have led to important changes in the innovation process. "For example, with the important improvements we have introduced in 3D printing, we can now create not only prototypes, but also manufacture objects with the quality required for a final product." This allows a strategy bridge production, that is, make small runs of a product, put it on the market in a controlled manner and see the response of customers to this innovation to continue introducing possible changes until the final version that best fits the expectations or needs of the moment.
"In Spain, most companies do not have a systematic process to corroborate that their innovation is not redundant, but relies on their own knowledge or intuition." Benjamín Martínez, from Clarke, Modet & Co, is so emphatic about the previous research that requires the launch of a new product or solution. In his opinion, the issue does not improve much between those who do devote efforts or resources to this phase, since a large part of them is limited to search in scientific sources but obviating patents as a source of knowledge: "It is a serious error, because it is estimated that 80% of all published technology literature can only be found in patents, so in reality that market research only covers 20% of the information available. "
However, Martínez says that the startups that are part of accelerators or incubators usually have a strict control of patents registered through consultants that participate in these same initiatives. The reason is that when there is a venture capital fund behind an idea, those responsible for this investment require a prior technological intelligence process to prevent their capital from being used for redundant innovation.