A great deal has been achieved by 4iP Council's work as a member of the Ideas Powered for business network – particularly in terms of effectively communicating to SMEs the use and benefits of the different IP rights and how to fully leverage them. Join us to find out more about their prolific work in this interview with Axel Ferrazzini, 4iP Council’s Managing Director.
How would you describe 4iP Council’s main tasks for those who do not know your work?
4iP Council is a European research council dedicated to developing high-quality academic insight and empirical evidence on topics related to intellectual property and innovation. We work with academia, policy makers, regulators, small and large business stakeholders, educators and students to facilitate a deeper understanding of the invention process and the benefits of intellectual property.
4iP Council provides support to EU SMEs in several ways. How does your organisation achieve this goal? Could you give us an example?
Intellectual property is a bridge that connects invention to entrepreneurship, job creation and growth. We support SMEs in their understanding and use of intellectual property.
To do so, 4iP Council has created a corner dedicated to SMEs. It has also collaborated with key institutions to create infographics providing the most important information in a fun and didactical way. For example, the 4SMEs interactive guide series cover patents, copyrights, trade secrets, trade marks and design rights. Through these interactive guides, SMEs learn what intellectual property is and which types they need, why they should care about intellectual property and how to use intellectual property to grow their businesses. To complement this knowledge, we provide, also free of charge, summaries of relevant papers on these topics for SMEs.
What is your view of the EUIPO’s Ideas Powered for business network and its contribution to supporting SMEs?
The EUIPO’s Ideas Powered for business network and its contribution to supporting SMEs provide the survival kit that all SMEs should get. The richness of the content along with the diversity of information create the perfect Swiss Army knife that SMEs can use whenever they have the time and/or need.
Through our collaboration, we have advised SMEs of the importance of using IP and have supported them in the process. To date, how would you sum up our cooperation in this respect?
The complementarity of our organisations made this collaboration smooth, rich and innovative: the joint webinars gathered great experts who already shared their knowledge with hundreds of SMEs – the live question and answer sessions brought together dynamic audiences. Our collaboration makes intellectual property lively and dynamic.
Axel Ferrazzini, 4iP Council’s Managing Director
‘Intellectual property offers many benefits that need to be well understood to be fully leveraged. The most challenging task is to make it easy to understand without oversimplifying’
Intellectual property can be a complex topic for many. What are the biggest challenges your organisation faces when trying to educate others about the benefits of intellectual property?
Intellectual property offers many benefits that need to be well understood to be fully leveraged. The most challenging task is to make it easy to understand (one may characterise it as vulgarisation) without oversimplifying. It is the reason why 4iP Council has chosen to create infographics and reference existing content from well-recognised institutions (such as the EUIPO) to address different levels of details: one may just want to learn the basics, while others may prefer to dig further to enjoy a higher level of granularity.
Financial initiatives such as the SME Fund seem to work well with first-time registrants (nearly 80 % of European companies that have applied to the fund had their first contact with intellectual property). Do you think there are other ways to help EU businesses grow and thrive?
The SME Fund, among other financial initiatives, already provides the financial assistance that many SMEs need. It is a great way to raise awareness. Time is another important issue for SMEs: many SMEs still do not understand how to properly use intellectual property, they do not have the time to learn the diversity of opportunities and how they could leverage its benefits. Thus, a sort of one-year intellectual property coaching, where SMEs would be offered customised assistance, could greatly bridge the gap. Another proposal would be offering IP lectures in all technical universities. Very often, inventors realise the relevance of IP too late.
How do you envision 4iP Council’s future in the coming years?
The opportunities offered by intellectual property rights are limitless. 4iP Council would like to cover as many topics as possible by continuing to collaborate with public and private organisations. In the short term, 4iP Council aims to deliver new interactive guides on technology transfer for European universities, geographical indications for craft and industrial products, as well as more research papers on challenges and trends related to biotechnology, energy, sustainability, circular economy innovation and, of course, the intellectual property challenges of the decentralised world wide web allied to blockchain technology.
What new opportunities do you foresee and what do you hope to achieve as an active member of the Ideas Powered for business network?
Providing the right information, at the right time and with the required level of detail to help businesses grow and thrive is what 4iP Council aims for. The organisation of webinars to explain, nurture the dialogue, and present the infographics to SMEs is the first pillar. The second pillar is to further grow the research activities dedicated to SMEs’ needs to ease the understanding of the benefits of intellectual property. Finally, the third pillar is to interview individual innovators and innovative SMEs to explain how they use and leverage the diversity of intellectual property rights. The Ideas Powered for business network is already a great success. 4iP Council will continue to contribute actively to reach as many SMEs as possible to further educate them on the tremendous benefits of intellectual property.