Matthew Wahlrab is constantly thinking innovation. As a Manager of IP and Market Analytics at Intellectual Ventures (IV) working in the Invention Science Fund (ISF), he’s relentlessly looking for ways to help customers solve vexing problems. Even during a recent vacation in Italy, while walking the halls of the Uffizi and marveling at the influence of the Renaissance, Matthew was taking cues from the past as inspiration for the future.
What is your background and what led you to where you are now?
I pursued a double biology major at UC Santa Barbara. Then, as a senior, I met someone in a scuba class who started telling me about this great field where you could be on the cutting edge of innovation and invention. I ended up accepting a position with him, and with that came the opportunity to get a degree in electrical engineering. I worked with a number of different companies and organizations who were looking to protect their intellectual property (IP), and architected patent portfolios to support their business needs. Then one day my phone rang, and I was lucky enough to land a job here at IV. I thought for sure I was going to go into genetics research, but I ended up with an MBA, a broad science background, and now I get to bring all of that to the table each day for ISF where we’re focused on inventing and innovation in information and communication technologies, biotech, geo-engineering, and agriculture, among others.
Can you talk a bit about what you do at IV?
My team is making sure companies understand what partnering with IV means for their business, whether their goal is to increase sales, bolster current product lines, or understand how innovation can secure a competitive advantage. If you’re an executive thinking I just wish we could solve this problem, IV gives you access to an unmatched set of solutions from our global inventor network, to the amazing experts in ISF, to our portfolio of patents. The team is an eclectic mix of patent engineers, licensing executives, market analysts, patent attorneys, financial analysts, and creative designers. Our diverse backgrounds and skill sets reflect the core competencies that are required in today’s market to recognize and meet the varied needs of our customers.
What inspires you most about what you do?
There are a lot of companies that consistently come up with fantastic ideas but maybe those ideas don’t align with their product roadmap, or the investment into the new idea has a high opportunity cost in comparison to their fundamental objectives. Because of that, they lose out on all these revolutionary ideas. So it’s exciting, especially with the group of people that I work with, to see emerging technologies and find ways to capitalize on the potential opportunities ahead. With the talent here at IV, we’re uniquely positioned to recognize these prospects and unlock value for the inventors and those whom can benefit from the inventions.
What's the most interesting aspect of your job at IV?
There’s a ton. One of the things that’s really fascinating, is making sure people truly understand what we’re talking about when we discuss invention and our portfolios. I’m really interested in the knowledge transfers and strategic collaboration that goes into creating solutions for our customers. By uncovering companies’ needs, we become focused on enabling even more invention. That to me is really fascinating.
Within ISF, we’re solving problems, we’re anticipating the future, and its rewarding innovators. Think about how much you could get done if you brought a bunch of talented, smart, and creative people together in one space? I was just in Italy, and the Renaissance was this amazing period of immense creative output and innovation, and I feel lucky to be a part of what’s happening today at IV where we’re dedicated to nurturing, financing, and championing invention and inventors globally. We’re pushed to take big chances, and as a result we aren’t afraid to fail in the pursuit of the next great breakthrough.