One of the principal criticisms of the patent system is that it
is often prohibitively expensive for "the little guy".
Statistics reflect the fact that the large corporate tends to make
better use of the patent system than does the individual inventor,
who may struggle to attract funding. This article outlines a new
initiative of the Australian Federal Government which may go some
way to redressing this imbalance.
We've all heard the saying that a patent is not a license to
print money – rather, it's but one piece in a jigsaw,
a drummer in a band of an overall, integrated business strategy.
Fit all the pieces together, throw in a slice of luck, and you may
then be on your way to making a commercial success of your
Patent attorneys deal primarily in procuring and enforcing
intellectual property rights. Some practices offer
commercialisation services – but these generally come at
a cost. One of the most common questions we find ourselves asked by
local inventors is "where can I obtain funding?" It's
not that this question is unanswerable – it's just
that it is exceedingly complex – perhaps until now, that
Commercialisation Australia ("CA") is a new Federal
Government initiative dedicated to commercialising Australian
R&D. CA's stated aim is to "build the capacity of
Australia's talented researchers, entrepreneurs and innovative
companies to convert ideas into successful commercial realities and
create high-skill, high-wage jobs".
CA is the primary source of Federal Government assistance for
commercialisation; it will receive $196.1m over the four years to
2013, and $82m per year thereafter. CA aims to deliver a "new
integrated, hands-on approach to take ideas to market through
offering a range of tailored assistance measures for specialist
advice and services, proof of concept and early stage
The scheme is a merit-based, competitive assistance program that
offers assistance over three categories:
Skills and Knowledge Support to help build the
skills, knowledge and connections necessary to commercialise new
ideas. This includes up to $50,000 for "specialist advice and
services". This branch of the scheme targets commercialisation
"rookies" and seeks to help build the skills, knowledge
and networks required to succeed in commercialisation. Relating
this back to our core business, these funds could pay for IP
management, strategy, licensing, etc. The second arm of Skills and
Knowledge Support offers up to $200,000 over two years to assist
with the recruitment of experienced executives such as a CEO/CFO;
applicants will need to match the grant funding
Proof of Concept Grants of $50,000 to $250,000
are available to test the commercial viability of a product,
process or service. The basic criteria here are that this is again
on a dollar-for-dollar basis – and that testing need be
completed within 12 months.
Early Stage Commercialisation Repayable Grants
of $250,000 to $2m may be available to help develop a new product,
process or service to the stage where it can be taken to market.
Early Stage Commercialisation activities may include: product
development, testing and documentation, tooling-up for full-scale
production, establishment of quality controls, market validation,
establishing management teams, initiation of sales/marketing, and
the execution of IP strategy.
Each successful CA applicant will be assigned a Case Manager for
the duration of their time with the organisation. The Case Manager
will guide successful applicants through the commercialisation
process and facilitate access to experienced Volunteer Business
IP is the legal property in the innovation in your business and it is that which drives your revenue and profit growth.
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