From a press release circulated by Intellectual Ventures yesterday:
Akzo Nobel N.V. (AkzoNobel) and Intellectual Ventures (IV®) announced today that they have entered into a joint collaboration agreement to develop new technologies for the paint and coatings industry.
The collaboration provides AkzoNobel with access to technologies from IV’s portfolio of chemistry and materials science inventions. Under the terms of the agreement, IV will work with its network of more than 3,000 inventors – including individual inventors and inventors from government labs, research institutions, corporations and universities – to invent new technologies that can then be used by AkzoNobel to enhance its competitive position. AkzoNobel may select technologies for further development and testing, potentially leading to commercialization in new and existing products.
AkzoNobel produces paints, coatings and specialty chemicals, claiming to be a Global Fortune 500 company. The collaboration agreement is part of IV’s ‘global inventor network.’ An IV spokesperson told me that the network includes “3,000 inventors and 400 leading universities and research institutions” and has “sourced more than 10,000 inventions in just three years.” One of those research institutions, Seattle Polymers, invented new technology relevant to AkzoNobel “identified as being a good candidate for further development and potentially for commercialization.” Using the inventor’s network, IV paired up the inventive unit with AkzoNobel. IV is calling it an example of the network “developing important intellectual property that our customers can access to improve their competitive position.”
Meanwhile, Mitch Smith of Inside Higher Ed claims universities are split over the merits of Intellectual Ventures. The process described to Smith by company spokesman Nick Gibson likely complements the process that matched AkzoNobel with Seattle Polymers. According to Gibson, IV identifies and approaches promising inventors, in many cases working with a university, and pitches the partnership opportunity directly. If the inventor is on board, IV then works with university tech transfer to license inventions and pursue patents.
Smith notes some trepidation among universities who work with IV, saying that most choose to remain anonymous. However, actions speak louder than words, and these anonymous universities obviously recognize the realities of some of the ‘uglier’ sides to commercialization of technology. While they may not want to admit it, universities are generally more than willing reap the monetary benefits of invention whenever possible.
As for IV, they’ve demonstrated a willingness to fight for their patent rights as needed, a characteristic mandatory for survival outside the ivory tower. If universities continue to lack the will to get their hands dirty, the choice is simple: partner with an aggressive monetization outfit, or wait for money to magically fall from the sky.
Check out the IV Insights Blog post: World’s Biggest Paints and Coatings Company Works With IV to Source New Inventions