Game-Changing Times in the Transportation Industry

It’s an important time in the transportation industry as the consumer depends on technology to stay connected with their professional and social networks. This dependency is driving consumer electronics, connectivity, and information technologies rapidly to converge in automotive and other transportation industries. Automotive companies are finding the need to maintain access to a wide array of relevant patents, not traditionally available in the automotive space.

That’s why we are so pleased that Ford Motor Company signed a license agreement with Intellectual Ventures (IV). The deal provides Ford and its affiliates with a license to IV's patent portfolio of approximately 40,000 current IP assets in addition to future IV assets that may be acquired during the license term. IV offers an efficient way to access the invention rights companies need to drive innovation within the market.

IV provides a variety of solutions for companies looking to develop and enhance their intellectual property (IP) strategies and counts many of the world’s leading technology companies as customers and partners. Companies of all sizes rely on IV to meet their current business needs and to provide guidance on developing and acquiring invention rights relevant to their product roadmaps. In addition to traditional IP licensing deals, companies can work with IV's in-house inventors and its network of more than 4,000 inventors around the world to solve near-term technical issues and invent the technologies that will differentiate their next-generation products from the competition.

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International Governments Prioritize IP Development

Intellectual property development and protection is a global enterprise, and more and more countries are viewing IP as a critical asset to their economies. Global buy-in on the importance of IP is moving governments to incentivize inventors to find cutting-edge solutions to today’s most pressing challenges.

As countries prioritize intellectual property development, the value of collaboration is becoming increasingly evident, and engagement in the IP landscape is making cross-border cooperation easier. September’s BOAO Forum for Asia in Seattle, where IV founder and CTO Edward Jung spoke about the global benefits from Asia’s invention boom, offered one such opportunity to learn from executives and innovators from Asia and hear about ways they are approaching the world’s most challenging problems. 

Prioritizing invention—and strengthening the IP marketplace—also increases the number of people globally who can devote time to addressing systemic issues facing the developing world. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently released a study identifying the “top-50 critical scientific and technological breakthroughs required for sustainable global development,” which highlighted innovations in desalination technology, smartphones, education resources, energy sources, and fertilizers, among others.

New approaches to incentivizing innovation will help the world address these issues while simultaneously improving the economic climate for inventors globally. Some examples of these approaches include: 

  • China has instituted a number of new ideas, including opening IP exchanges to help companies buy and sell IP rights and setting up a government venture capital fund worth $6.5 billion to support start-ups in emerging industries. 
  • The United Kingdom implemented the Science and Innovation Strategy to set priorities for investment well into the next decade and  to underscore principles to guide science and innovation policy. 
  • The Malaysian government started a program to allow companies to use their IP rights as collateral for loans to further develop ideas. 
  • Nigeria’s National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion aims to strengthen domestic expertise in technology development, encouraging local inventors to convert their ideas into IP, as well as establishing technology transfer hubs at the country’s universities.
  • The European Union kicked off Horizon 2020, a framework “providing the money, motivation and muscle to keep Europe at the forefront of knowledge, and turn good ideas into innovation.” Horizon 2020 uses a challenge-based approach to make Europe a “magnet for innovation.”
  • Southeast Asian nations collaborated to establish best practices in IP management and protection. In July, IP office leaders at ASEAN announced new collaborative initiatives to encourage new inventions and help companies maximize the return of their IP assets. 
  • The UAE announced a 7 point plan with Dh4.1 billion in funding to promote innovation by improving STEM education and offering invention challenges. 

As governments strengthen IP rights and encourage innovation, they also broaden the private sector’s ability to access a global network of patents and inventors. The spate of innovation initiatives described above also offer governments opportunities to adopt new best practices on methods to foster intellectual property development. At Intellectual Ventures, we support countries’ efforts to strengthen their IP systems and look forward to future partnership opportunities around the globe.

Check out IV’s blog about the BOAO forum to learn more about what industry leaders are discussing about IP in the global landscape.

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Milestones Met for Vaccine Logistics

2015 brings two early and notable milestones for the Global Good and Intellectual Ventures Laboratory teams’ work to commercialize a passive vaccine storage device: a stamp of approval from the World Health Organization and branding transition to our manufacturing partner in China, AUCMA.

Despite immunizations being one of the greatest success stories in modern medicine, one in five children worldwide are still not fully protected with even the most basic vaccines. As a result, an estimated 1.5 million children die each year—one every 20 seconds—from vaccine-preventable diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia. Tens of thousands of other children suffer from severe or permanently disabling illnesses. [Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation] 

Immunization rates are lowest in rural areas, such as Sub-Saharan Africa, where poor infrastructure and unreliable power means life-saving vaccines are often spoiled or out of stock. Many a troubling story has been told of a mother travelling with her young child for miles on foot, only to be turned away at a health post that has run out of vaccines.  

It was this issue of vaccine delivery that presented the inventors, rocket scientists, hackers, health experts and industrial engineers here at Intellectual Ventures (IV) with the type of problem that inspires them the most:

  1. Could a technology invention save lives in the short-term?
  2. Could the market make the invention affordable and accessible for the long-term? 

I’m proud to say the teams at Global Good and IV Lab are well on their way to answering ‘yes’ to both.

Over the past five years, both teams have worked hard to develop a device that can keep vaccines at the appropriate temperatures for a month or more with repeated vaccine retrievals and no need for electricity. In a rural health post, like the ones we have worked with in Ethiopia, Senegal, and Nigeria, that makes this passive vaccine storage device what Bill Gates has jokingly, but genuinely, referred to as the “keg of life.”   

Significantly, the World Health Organization has designated our passive vaccine storage device  “prequalified”  under its Performance, Quality and Safety (PQS) program as well. PQS prequalification is a requirement for most governments in the developing world for procurement and implementation of a device, and it represents a significant seal of approval for real world conditions.

This PQS prequalification also helps our commercial partner, AUCMA, to move the device beyond manufacturing and into distribution in the communities with the lowest rates of vaccination. Based in China, AUCMA is one of the country’s largest refrigeration manufacturers, and critical to our efforts to catalyze the market around a commercial passive vaccine storage device. So much so, in fact, that we together have developed a brand for the device for AUCMA to take to market, called the Arktek™. (Apparently, passive vaccine storage device isn’t the catchiest or most easily translated term. I can’t imagine why!)

In the coming months, you’ll start to see the Arktek brand appear in more of Intellectual Ventures’ and AUCMA’s marketing, but more importantly, I hope you will see this life-saving device in more of the countries that need it most.

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News You Can Use

This week’s News You Can Use features stories that show how a strong intellectual property system supports economic growth. As a result, countries are prioritizing investment in innovation.

Countries with Strong IP Systems Invest More in R&D; Innovate More

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s blog published four key graphs showing the correlation between a strong IP system and a strong economy. The graphs use data from the Global Intellectual Property Center’s recently released International IP Index to show positive relationships between a strong IP system and:

  • investment in research and development;
  • percentage of employees in knowledge-intensive jobs;
  • economic investment generally; and
  • innovative output.

The U.S. ranks highly in these charts, and countries worldwide are working to bolster IP protections to foster positive outcomes demonstrated by these metrics.

WEF Highlights Private-Sector Innovation Support Key for Entrepreneurial Growth in China

A new article from the World Economic Forum (WEF) points out that a strong innovation economy will play an important role in the outlook for China’s private sector. Absent support for innovation, entrepreneurs may lack the confidence necessary to continue to invest in new business ventures and develop intellectual property. The article highlights prioritization of start-ups and government support for innovation as mechanisms that can enable Chinese companies to sustain a high level of growth.

White House Recruits Innovation Fellows

The White House announced this week a new round of competition for Presidential Innovation Fellows. For this round, the U.S. is focusing on supporting innovation in four key areas: education; jobs and the economy; climate change; and health and patient care. Selected fellows can become “entrepreneurs-in-residence” at a variety of federal agencies where they will work to implement their innovative ideas.

Check out previous fellows’ projects, which have focused on improving federal responses to natural disasters, streamlining businesses’ ability to work with government, and improving veterans’ access to education, among others.

Intellectual Ventures regularly shares roundups of invention and intellectual property news. Check out some of our past posts about inventors, IP globalization, and the innovation culture.

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News You Can Use

In honor of Wednesday’s National Inventors’ Day, News You Can Use features stories about inventions and inventors. Intellectual Ventures deeply appreciates the hard work and intellect that men and women across the country apply each day to developing new ideas that improve the world. People such as this year's National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees....

News You Can Use

National Inventors Hall of Fame Inducts 2015 Class

Each year, the National Inventors Hall of Fame inducts a new class of extraordinary inventors into its membership. This year’s honorees include Edith Clarke, who improved electricity transmission over wires, Charles Drew, whose invention has saved countless lives by allowing hospitals to preserve blood plasma, and Jaap Haartsen, who invented the now-ubiquitous Bluetooth technology. Check out the full list at The Washington Post.

Upstart Ranks Top Inventors in New Businesses

The Upstart Business Journal announced this week its inaugural class of the top 100 in upstarts, which seeks to honor big thinkers whose new ideas and companies are changing their respective industries. In addition to visionaries and creative, the list includes specific categories for inventors and reinventors. This year, Upstart features Toby Rush of EyeVerify, who invented new biometrics-related software that would use a scan of a smartphone user’s eye as a security key and Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos, whose handheld device improves laboratory diagnostics by running up to 70 tests on a pinprick’s worth of blood.

New Paper Seeks to Quantify the Most Impactful Inventions in American History

Researchers at Stanford University and the University of Waterloo recently published a paper that uses trends in words and phrases that appear in patents to create a narrative about the arc of American invention since the 1840s. Their methodology relies on the fact that to create breakthroughs, inventors and innovators often build on previously patented ideas. Using colors, the researchers demonstrate that invention has moved from trains and cars in the 19th century to the invisible world of software in the 2000s. Inside that story, they show which decades focused on medicine, chemistry, or computers. ” The Atlantic has the story. 

Be sure to check out the other content that IV published in honor of National Inventors’ Day, including our new series “Behind the Breakthrough” featuring interviews with inventors and scientists who are making invention possible, as well as the Intellectual Ventures Lab’s post on the life of inventor and Edison associate Lewis Latimer.

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Introducing “Behind the Breakthrough”

This National Inventors’ Day, Intellectual Ventures is kicking off a new series to spotlight the people whose ideas fuel progress. Over the coming weeks, we will feature interviews with the inventors and scientists in IV’s network and in the greater inventor community to understand their approach to advancing science and technology. We’ll also highlight their future visions and offer anecdotes about things they think might surprise people about working in the field of invention.

Introducing “Behind the Breakthrough”

We’ve started this series to show our appreciation for the men and women whose hard work and creative intellects have made modern invention possible, but also to inspire others with stories about individuals who are making real breakthroughs for our society.

Today we’re featuring our first profile on Dr. Gregory Phelan. Dr. Phelan has worked as a member of IV’s Invention Network, where his inventions have made great strides in creating alternatives to potentially harmful BPA-based polymers in food packaging, baby bottles, and other products.

To follow the series, subscribe to our IV Insights blog and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And check out our Inventor Spotlights series as well.

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Behind the Breakthrough: Dr. Gregory Phelan

As a part of our new series highlighting inventors and their work, we spoke recently with Dr. Gregory Phelan about his approach to invention, what motivates him to continue to discover new things, and what he envisions for the future of innovation. 

Behind the Breakthrough: Dr. Gregory Phelan

Dr. Phelan is an associate professor and chair of the chemistry department at the State University of New York College at Cortland and is part of IV’s Inventor Network. Dr. Phelan’s inventions have made great strides in creating alternatives to potentially harmful BPA-based polymers in food packaging, baby bottles, and other products.

Here are some Dr. Phelan’s reflections: 

On the challenges of being an inventor

As a trained scientist, you learn a lot about how to do lab work, how to problem solve, and how to creatively think. But inventors must also have the ability to connect the dots—I can make this material, but how can I get this out to society? Who can help me commercialize this? One of the greatest challenges of being an inventor is finding a way to do it all—to build an idea, but then to find the business partners who can implement that idea in a way that benefits society.

On the value of incremental invention versus disruptive invention

Invention takes many steps and requires a systematic approach. I don’t approach a new problem as though I’m going to invent the wheel. Instead, my vision is more incremental—what can I do differently to make this better? I’m not looking to create inventions that will dwell sometime in the future. I want to do what I can now to help society use the resources at our fingertips to our own benefit.

On the future of invention

I think the future of invention will involve interdisciplinary teams of subject matter and invention experts working on a problem instead of traditional R&D teams sequestered in an isolated laboratory. Crowdsourcing and cooperative problem solving are powerful and engaging tools for innovation. If we can think of best ways to harness that creative energy, we can make very significant and disruptive technologies sooner rather than later.

Follow our Behind the Breakthrough series by subscribing to our IV Insights blog, and check out more quotes from inventors and scientists on our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

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Honoring African American Inventors

Perhaps one of the most critical components of invention is the inventor. Men and women who have dedicated their lives to improving society, yet too often go unrecognized for their contributions to its betterment. In honor of National Inventors’ Day in the U.S. on February 11, Intellectual Ventures is giving the spotlight to some of these unsung heroes. 

Honoring African American Inventors

February is also Black History Month, so we begin our series by highlighting past and present African American inventors who’ve made great contributions to their fields. People such as Thomas Jennings and Judy Reed, the first African American man and woman to receive patents for their ideas. In the spirit of National Inventors’ Day, let’s honor these unsung heroes in the inventor community. 

Dr. Patricia Bath

In 1986, Dr. Bath invented the laserphaco probe, which, with her corresponding technique, represented a significant advance for cataract surgery.  The invention made her the first female African American physician to receive a patent.

Ophthalmologists worldwide have widely adopted Dr. Bath’s laserphaco technique. Her invention has allowed doctors to restore sight to patients who have been blind for more than 30 years.


James West
From 1960 to 1962, James West and his partner Gerhard Sessler developed the foil electret microphone, technology that’s still used in approximately 90 percent of all microphones today. West and Sessler set out to improve on the cost, size, and sensitivity of current microphone technology.

West has invented prolifically throughout his career, with over 250 patents to his name. In 1999, he and Sessler were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Marie Van Brittan Brown

In 1966, Marie Van Brittan Brown filed a patent for the first closed-circuit television home security system. She and her husband invented the device, which had a motorized camera that moved along four peepholes to display an image on a monitor.

While Brown’s career was as a nurse, her invention formed the basis for many modern home security systems today.

Lonnie Johnson
An engineer by training, Johnson holds over 80 patents and spent his career innovating. He owns two companies, Excellatron Solid State and Johnson Electro-Mechanical Systems, which work to develop advanced energy technologies.

While Johnson’s spinoff companies work on advanced battery technology and the conversion of heat to electricity, he’s perhaps best well-known for inventing one of the bestselling toys in history: the Super Soaker water gun.

Visit our Insights blog regularly to learn more about inventors and the difference they’re making.

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News You Can Use

This week’s News You Can Use highlights stories about the future of intellectual property—the increasing globalization of IP systems, how the worlds’ business leaders are setting priorities for their respective IP environments, and the critical importance of IP to industries as they evolve.

News You Can Use

U.S. Ranks First in Global Assessment of IP Systems

The United States Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center recently released its IP International Index, which, among other things, ranks countries’ intellectual property environments. According to the study, the U.S. system ranks first in the world, followed closely by the U.K, Germany, France, and Singapore.

World’s CEOs View Strong IP Systems as Key to Growth

The importance of strong intellectual property systems emerged as a prominent theme among the world’s top business leaders at the recent India-U.S. CEO forum in New Delhi. CEOs from around the globe spoke about the importance of patent and trademark protection to their businesses’ growth. In particular, participants spoke about how a resilient global intellectual property system builds a solid foundation for international cooperation, which has proven key to fostering innovation.

Rapidly Evolving Industries Require Prioritization of IP R&D

As sectors like manufacturing evolve rapidly, companies must place increasing importance on research and development and innovation, reports Manufacturing Global. As a result, industries must also prioritize intellectual property protections in order to maintain a competitive edge. As companies continue to conduct business globally, CEOs have a vested stake in fostering a strong worldwide IP system to protect goods against counterfeiting in growth markets.

@IVinvents shares IP and tech innovation. Follow along, and let us know what you’ve been reading, too. 

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Adriane Brown Awarded MIT’s 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award

Awarded annually to “students, alumni, staff, groups, and faculty who embody the spirit of Dr. King’s work,” Sloan Fellow and IV President and COO, Adriane Brown, was a recent recipient of the school’s Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award.

Adriane Brown Awarded MIT’s 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award

Given to those who’ve demonstrated “’service to the community including academic, research, religious, and secular contributions in which integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive outcome are apparent,” Adriane was nominated by a current MIT student who heard her speak during a recent campus visit and in large part because of her commitment to mentoring young people.

A tireless advocate of underserved youth, Adriane has focused her civic efforts – through her national board position with Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) – on ensuring young people finish high school, are employable, and are productive citizens. There she’s spent more than 10 years helping the students least likely to succeed get the support they need to graduate. On a local level, she was also involved in establishing a JAG chapter in Washington state.

Adriane is also passionate about helping young people of all ages develop an interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Adriane sits on the board of directors for the Pacific Science Center and regularly participates in events focused on STEM such as the Expanding Your Horizons conferences where she inspires girls with her own story as the keynote speaker. Most recently, Adriane visited LaSalle-Backus Education Campus in Washington, D.C. where she addressed a group of fourth through eighth grade students about her career journey, the challenges she faced along the way, and how she overcame them to become both a leader and a role model for girls who want to pursue careers in STEM. By the end of her visit, 22 of the young girls signed up for the school’s STEM and robotics club.

Congratulations to Adriane and her fellow awardees!

More on MIT’s Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award can be found here

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Adriane Brown

Adriane Brown

Adriane Brown is the President and COO of Intellectual Ventures.

Maurizio Vecchione

Maurizio Vecchione

Maurizio Vecchione is the Vice President of Global Good at Intellectual Ventures.





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Thank you for the kind words, @US_EDA. MT: We recognize @IVinvents Pres/COO Adriane Brown for her work facilitating #innovation! #BHM2015

Feb 27

Game-changing times in the transportation industry. @Ford inks license to @IVinvents #IP. #patentsmatter #cartech

Feb 27

Countries around the world are prioritizing #IP development. See how at the IV Insights blog: #patentsmatter

Feb 26