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Monish Suvarna

Monish Suvarna

Head of Product Development

Q: Describe your feelings related to your contributions of doing something new and unique.
I joined Intellectual Ventures to help establish the Invention Development Fund (IDF). This opportunity struck me as something that was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We had a chance to develop IP as a new asset in Asia, a region that will be at the forefront of innovation for at least the next decade. In a short period, we set up IDF with a truly all-star group of investors who believed in our mission of finding, developing and investing in early stage inventions.

At the time, the conventional wisdom was that nothing innovative happens in India or China. But I knew this was not the case, and I truly felt that I needed to take this opportunity to show that India could be at the forefront of innovation.

After we successfully raised IDF, I started IV India in 2008. Our team delivered IP out of India that was of a quality that was on par with what we were seeing from the US. We were quickly able to partner with most major Indian universities and have had the privilege of showcasing their outstanding work to companies all over the world. I would like to think IV has changed the perception of India when people think of IP. This is no small achievement in a very short period of time.

Q: How have IV's global resources, and collaboration with colleagues around the globe, changed or enhanced your perspective on innovation, technology and patents?
I continue to see great ideas come from the most unlikely sources. In India, we have found great ideas in biology from aerospace departments and great IT ideas from biology departments. A very different set of ideas can be created when you mix experts in one area with brilliant inventors from outside that discipline. The same happens when we mix inventors from different countries and cultures who have very different perspectives on the same problem.

A very different set of ideas can be created when you mix experts in one area with brilliant inventors from outside that discipline. The same happens when we mix inventors from different countries and cultures who have very different perspectives on the same problem.

Q: Do you ever think about the impact that you're making on future technologies? How does that make you feel?
The potential to impact the future is the primary reason that I joined IV. We invent in so many areas (such as food, cars, data storage and biology), many of which will have a direct impact on our lives and the lives of our children.

Q: How do you stay focused when the fund's investments are so long term?
The Invention Development Fund is a relationship fund. The key is to make bets on long term trends and keep the focus on building relationships with brilliant inventors. Both of these objectives are very satisfying. Every conversation with an inventor is a chance to learn something interesting. Inventors want us to shepherd their inventions carefully and not be short-sighted.

Q: How is working at IV different from previous work you've done in your field?
The biggest difference is the breadth of things you see at IV and the number of brilliant ideas and people you see each day. I have spent most of my career with startup companies, where the idea flow is fast and furious during the early stages but slows down very quickly. But even after five years with IV, I still constantly see interesting ideas in biology, chemistry, materials and IT.

The other big difference is the interdisciplinary nature of the work. In my previous jobs, working across different areas of expertise was very rare. Here at IV, it is a fundamental aspect of the job on a day to day basis. 

Q: In what ways have you had an opportunity to grow new skills?
The biggest challenge has been in managing teams, customers and external inventors with very different cultural perceptions of innovation across multiple time zones. I’ve learned to work with very different cultures across Asia and North America on shared sets of goals.

Q: What do you do to help IV accomplish our mission of being the leader in the business of invention?
As a business leader I focus on a few key values:

  1. Hire bright people who are passionate about invention and give them a lot of leeway to drive the business.
  2. Let people make mistakes and fail as long as they learn from those failures.
  3. Keep execution as the most important goal in mind. With so many innovative ideas, we must choose to execute on the few that will make a difference.