Invention East-West


Invention East-West

November 12, 2013

At Intellectual Ventures’ (IV) China office, we are proud to be at the forefront of open innovation between East and West. Our team in Beijing works every day to bring Chinese inventions to the world. We also work to bring great inventions from all over the world to China – which is often their largest market. We do this by finding great Chinese inventions, protecting them with strategic patent filings, and promoting commercialization, licensing, collaboration, and other projects in support of those inventions.

China, of course, has a complex relationship to intellectual property today. On one hand, the now canonical "Four Great Inventions" of gunpowder, the compass, printing, and paper-making point to the country's long tradition of invention. On the other hand, there are many who still view China as much better at copying the ideas of others, than coming up with their own ideas. At IV China, we have seen inventions of exceptional quality coming from China. We are here to help China become better known for the phrase "Invented in China," than "Made in China." 

The core responsibility of the China team is finding these great Chinese inventions. We already work with China’s most respected academic and research institutions – Peking UniversityShanghai Jiaotong UniversityCity University of Hong Kong, and many others. We primarily work with the professors and students from these institutions to respond to our Requests for Invention and submit solutions for problems that we have identified as valuable and solvable. The best of these are selected by IV to be added to our invention and patent portfolio. Just this week, we entered into an innovative co-investment arrangement with City University of Hong Kong, where the Hong Kong government will match the funds we invest into that university's inventions, thereby doubling the funding going to one of China's best research institutions. 

We also have a team dedicated to finding channels for bringing these inventions – both from our China team and from our teams around the world – to the domestic Chinese market. This can be through private partners who put in different types of resources to further develop inventions, through starting up new companies, or through partnerships with local governments. Working at the very earliest stage of invention enables us to deepen the ties of cooperation when there is still a great deal of risk and reward in the future. A mature product from a U.S., European, or Japanese company being brought to China can often be of minimal value to Chinese innovation. The Chinese partner may be involved in the manufacture and sale of the product, but this fails to help develop the discipline and expertise of investing in projects that have technology risk. When the cooperation is forged at an earlier stage – before the technology is mature and successful in its home market – interests can be aligned in a much more meaningful way, and Chinese companies can gain experience in higher value-added segments of the industrial chain. This is the stage that IV likes to work in and the role that we relish playing.

One company that understands this link between true partnership and the development of long-term value is China Vanke, the largest residential real estate developer in China. The Chairman of the Board of Vanke, Mr. Wang Shi, recently visited our headquarters and lab in Seattle to learn how we approach the business of invention. Vanke produced the below video from their visit, and in it you can get a peek at IV through someone else's eyes. 

In order for China to continue growing at the pace that we’ve enjoyed for the last two decades, we need to move up the value chain, and that means inventing. Wang Shi and leading Chinese companies like Vanke understand this. Even more to the point, there has been a great deal of high-level policy directed at developing this innovative economy. We are encouraged by this emphasis and are enthusiastic participants in bringing China’s industry to the next level. In bringing Chinese inventors, businesses, and investors into the market for invention, we increase the resources being brought to bear on the most important problems in the world.

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