This year’s High-Growth Technology Business Conference attracted 750 registrants from more than 80 countries. In this blog post for the IP Business Academy, Dr. Shu-Pei Oei shares 8 “Catches” from attending this year’s HTB Conference.

The HTB conference is an annual conference organized by the European Patent Office (EPO) in collaboration with the Licensing Executives Society International (LESI), and supported by Enterprise Ireland. While I have attended talks by LESI in the past, and am a Patent Attorney qualified to practice before the EPO, I have never had the chance to witness both organizations in combination. I was therefore curious to find out what the HTB conference was all about.

In this blog post, I can offer readers a taste of the lectures I was able to “catch” over two days. I regret that I have missed some as these were busy work days, but I look forward to catching up with the replays when they become available. For those interested, a complete speaker list is available here.

According to the EPO website, high-growth technology businesses are major drivers of economic growth and job creation. Therefore, one aim of the HTB conference is to support business decision makers in technology driven businesses (especially in SMEs) by sharing how intellectual property can support their businesses.

Over two days, virtual participants heard from four keynotes and eight plenaries, in lectures organized into two tracks: an “IP track” and a “Business Track”.

I was able “Catch” 8 lectures, and here they are.

Catch 1:

My first “Catch” was Mr. Yann Ménière, Chief Economist at the EPO, who opened the conference with a keynote address on “High Growth and Patent Commercialisation”.

During this address, Mr. Ménière shared insights on the relationship between patenting activity and SME growth. 20% of applications at the EPO and originating from Europe are filed by SMEs. SMEs that own patents enjoy a 68% premium in revenue per employee compared to large firms at 18%. SMEs that have filed patents are 34% more likely to grow in subsequent years than without any (other) patent.

In addition to these key growth indices, Mr. Ménière also shared findings about the current and preferred geographical locations of partners pursued by SMEs.

These studies give meaning and purpose to the work done by European Patent Attorneys, and its impact on SMEs. I would encourage others to seek out further findings published by the EPO (2021 Patent Index, Patent Commercialisation Scoreboard) and the EUIPO (Intellectual property Rights and firm performance in the European Union).

Catch 2:

My second “Catch” was part of a plenary session entitled “Make Open Innovation Work”. The catch was Mr. Jimmy Ahlberg (Director, Open Source Policy, Ericsson), who shared insights on how organizations could integrate open innovation into their processes.

What would it mean to open up data to others to co-invent or invent?

How could organizations adapt themselves to the “controlled openness” of data sharing?

I appreciated the efforts made by Mr. Ahlberg to present a complex and bewildering topic to an audience in 20 minutes, and in decomplexified terms. Particularly memorable were the use of emoticons in an Openness Awareness Curve to express the evolution of emotions felt by organizations towards open innovation over time, from “Denial”, to “Anger”, to “Bargaining”, to feeling like “We’re Screwed” (his words, not mine!), and finally “Acceptance”.

Catch 3:

My third “Catch” was from the plenary session entitled “Business Use of Patent Information”. Here, I caught Mr. Arne Krüger (Founder and CEO, Moving Targets Consulting), Ms. Susanne Ruffert (Director of the Patent & Standards Center (PNZ), RWTH Aachen University), and Mr. Mustafa Çakir, (Product owner,

The speakers described how IP strategies could be brought to fruition through the combination of IP Scans (such as the EUIPO SME Fund) and Patent Attorney advice, while highlighting the possibilities and limitations of different types of IP advisory services.

Participants were also introduced to projects in Turkey, such as Patent Raporu (Patent Report translated!) – a portal for providing patent information-, and encouraged to seek out information on global or national industry leaders operating in one’s country.

Participants also learned about a project called IP.Camp. It was heartening to learn that training for IP Management and Licensing were being developed hand-in-hand by LES Turkey. I think this is a promising format that other countries could consider too.

Catch 4:

My fourth “Catch” was the keynote from Juergen Graner, Co-Founder & Director of Globalator. This lecture, “Sustainable Competitive Advantage powered by Operational Excellence”, was memorable, and blogging about it won’t ever do it justice.

His key takeaways? Create “people-enabling cultures”. Because people and company culture are the core pillars of operational excellence. True sustainable competitive advantage requires overall operational efficiency, top management independence, and world-class centres of excellence.

I highly recommend watching Mr. Graner on this link.

Catch 5:

My fifth “Catch” was “Turning Technology into Financial Assets”, where participants heard from Willem Bulthuis (Founder and CEO, Corporate Ventures Advisory), Alexander Rosen (Powertrain System Engineering at DeepDrive), and Stephan Rauscher (Partner at Earlybird Venture).

If there was one key takeaway from this panel, it is that Start-up founders and VCs will learn and adopt IP and Patent Strategies fast, if they are given the proper support from the start. Therefore, so will SMEs.

This panel shared their experiences in IP, from handling IP transfer in University Spin-offs, to choosing the right IP attorney, developing and defending a patent strategy, and positioning IP as a currency in fundraising, partnerships and sales. Terrifically impressive.

Catch 6:

My sixth “Catch” was the keynote lecture, “IP Management Standards for Digital Business”, by Prof. Alexander Wurzer (Director Management Education CEIPI, University of Strasbourg). Again, this is one of the lectures that blogging about will not do justice. But I shall try.

Prof. Wurzer showed how SMEs could apply 360° IP strategies towards their digital business models. Such as how to use IP to build products around customer benefit; to strengthen spheres of exclusivity and brand loyalty; and to keep resources VRIN. In addition, he showed, through the use of case studies, how companies could transition from a state of high litigation risk towards a state of acceptable risk through mutual co-cooperation using IP. Lastly, he showed how Standards, such as the DIN 77006, though seemingly obvious in their teachings, could play a role in shaping the actions of IP departments towards better IP outcomes that match business goals.

Here is a link to the blog of the IP Business Academy, and a pre-interview of the HTB conference.

Catch 7:

My seventh “Catch” was the plenary lecture on “Risk Management & Freedom to Operate” featuring Bettina de Jong (Director, Source de Durantou), Robert Matthezing (European patent attorney and owner, Corundum) and Alexander Schuld (German Patent Attorney and partner, dompatent von Kreisler).

This lecture brought us through the process of understanding risk, assessing them, and responding to them. In particular, Ms. De Jong took participants through the processes of understanding an FTO patent search, how to focus searches in software away from algorithms towards features and functions, and how to balance risk, cost and time while considering risk mitigation strategies.

You can follow the link to QPIP here.

Catch 8:

My eight, and final “Catch” was the keynote lecture on “Regionalisation and Global Growth” by Audrey Yap (Managing Partner, Yusarn Audrey) and Juliane Kotzur (European and International Legal Affairs).

Ms. Yap discussed the topic of Regionalisation, including ASEAN, with its market of 600 million people, and Singapore. Participants were encouraged to consider the diversity in the IP landscape, including issues such as ownership, co-ownership, outsourcing, and collaborating across borders. Participants were also updated on the evolving intellectual property landscape in China, encouraged to think beyond their own countries, and to consider factors such as value of the market and intellectual property stability.

I hope you have enjoyed the 8 “Catches”.  I would highly recommended this conference to SME leaders in need of IP solutions to support their businesses, and to IP practitioners wanting to keep pulse with the changing needs of the businesses they support.

About the blogpost author:

Dr. Shu-Pei Oei is in-house Patent Counsel at Novomatic AG, an Austrian-based Gaming company. Shu-Pei holds an LL.M in Law and IP Management from CEIPI, University of Strasbourg, a Ph.D in Engineering (Cantab), and several other degrees in Electrical Engineering. In her spare time, she enjoys making IP accessible, and connecting with other supporters of IP.