Summary: Procurement can support organization-wide innovation development by incorporating patent landscape analysis and startup company data into supply market intelligence initiatives.
Procurement, Supply Market Intelligence, and Innovation Development
Innovation Driven Procurement (IDP) is a term that can be used to describe transformed procurement that supports business strategy in pursuing innovation initiatives (Penka). IDP, as pointed out by CapGemini, can include discovering the scarce sources of innovation capabilities that are not easy to find. When considering suppliers as one of these sources, supply market intelligence becomes valuable because “finding sources of innovation supply requires knowledge of markets and technology” (Penka).
Early Involvement and Patent Searching
Those that write about the importance of innovation development understand that companies that innovate for disruption pose tremendous competitive threats. There is now a new risk, according to Octopus Intelligence, of disruptors entering markets, and that is speed. In the past, there was usually adequate time to take action against disruptive competitors, but “new entrants to your market can now fire disruptive, innovative products into your customers using instant communication, cloud computing, mobile applications and Machine Learning” (Octopus).
Early discovery of disrupters in the innovation process can be achieved with intellectual property (IP) detection done through patent searching. In the business world, historically, patent data has been greatly overlooked and researched too late in the innovation process, usually after valuable resources and time have been spent (Tedeschi).
In addition, Procurement Leaders, in an article about the importance of patent searching early in the innovation process, states that studies show “30% of R&D spend duplicates work that has already been carried out.” Through SMI, Procurement can alleviate patent infringement threats and waste in R&D budgets (SEIC). Also, “procurement leaders often have to help solve ‘make or buy’ questions, so if it’s discovered that a relevant innovation has already been developed, perhaps it’s easier, faster and cheaper to simply license that technology from the patent-owner or even to acquire the innovator outright” (SEIC).
Not only can patent data be used effectively for intellectual property detection and market analysis, but it can be used for competitive intelligence activities as well. Patent databases, such as PatentInspiration, now identify and provide analytics and visuals on who is inventing what. Here are a few suggested resources:
PatentInspiration is part of the Aulive line of tools for innovation development. It searches over 76 million patents and provides analytics for new developments inside and outside of your domain. You enter search terms to retrieve a certain number of patents and then view graphs and images that depict the data in several key ways. The free version allows you to see data, such as the number of patents per applicant vs. time in years and the various domains that are present in your patent pool. Paid analysis includes domain links between companies, other products that share properties with your product, and which materials are used in the patent texts, to name a few. Flexible and reasonable pricing can be found on the web site and free searching is available. Thumbnail visuals below are results from patent search: cat and flea (free content).
Innography, founded by an IBM inventor and Stanford University graduate, provides patent business intelligence “by developing a set of powerful algorithms that cleanse and normalize data, mine patents for vital information, and automatically make determinations on which patents in a set are the most valuable.” A range of solutions is offered. PatentScout is a patent search tool with conceptual search capabilities that helps in determining IP landscapes and Advanced Analysis is designed to offer insight into understanding current and future shifts in the market.
Free Patent Databases
United States Patent and Trademark Office – Patent Full-Text Database
Here you can retrieve data on US patents, with full-text available from 1976 to the present. From this site, you can also access patent applications since 2001 that have been published in the Published Patent Applications Database (AppFT). Also on the main page is a link (Patent Application Information Retrieval database – PAIR) to data on current fee status and expiration of patents. There are quick and advanced search options that allow you to select from a multitude of fields.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a global forum for intellectual property services, policy, and information. A key offering is the PATENTSCOPE search system, which is free and allows you to access millions of patent documents namely from International Patent Applications filed under the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) and regional and national patent collections from numerous participating countries and organizations. Patent landscape reports (PLRs) provide a snapshot of the patent situation of a specific technology, either within a given country or region, or globally.
The Lens, which is an integrated, worldwide, open-source and open access resource, was created to provide transparency in the patent system. Lens serves nearly all of the patent documents in the world as open, annotatable digital public goods and allows document collections, aggregations, and analyses to be shared, annotated, and embedded to forge open mapping.
European Patent Office (EPO)
Espacenet is an international patent database containing patents from 72 countries and regions. For both beginners and experts, it contains data on more than 90 million patent documents from around the world. Supporting information provided can help in understanding whether a patent has been granted and if it is still in force.
Innovative Competitor and Supplier Discovery
Discovering innovative suppliers to partner with is challenging. Patent searching will help identify the companies that are innovating in technologies and products of interest. Another option is to look to startup and private company intelligence offerings. Here are a few resources to consider for identifying potential suppliers and competitors using startup databases:
The CB Insights tech market intelligence platform analyzes millions of data points on venture capital, startups, patents, partnerships and news briefs to help companies predict emerging trends, uncover competitor strategy, and identify growing industries and future disruptors. For example, CB Insights allows you to identify disruptive startups that are challenging or “unbundling” present day market leaders.
For other startup databases, this article provides a nice review on several offerings: Which Startup Database is Better? Comparing CB Insights, PitchBook, PrivCo, DataFox and Mattermark.
Another popular startup database is CrunchBase, which, in addition to providing free information, now offers a Pro version, that allows for advanced searching, market trend analytics, and the ability to track industries, people, companies, and investors.
Industrial Research Institute
The Industrial Research Institute (IRI) is made up of companies and federal laboratories that unite innovation leaders from diverse industries to create and exchange knowledge on improving their organization’s technology management capabilities. IRI provides reports, conference papers, and webinars about disruptive technology for members.
Global Innovation Index
Is the supplier you are researching from a country that supports innovation initiatives? Which countries provide the strongest pool of potential suppliers in terms of innovation? The Global Innovation Index (GII) provides detailed metrics for 128 economies, and is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Interactive GII data is available on individual indicators based on various input pillars: (1) Institutions, (2) Human capital and research, (3) Infrastructure, (4) Market sophistication, and (5) Business sophistication; and output pillars (6) Knowledge and technology outputs and (7) Creative outputs.
Octopus. “Risk from Disruptive Competitors.” Octopus. Sept. 11, 2016, http://octopusintelligence.co.uk/risk-new-disruptive-competitors
Penka, Adrian and Kirsten Schipper. “Innovation in Procurement.” Capgemini Consulting. n.d., https://www.capgemini.com/resource-file-access/resource/pdf/Innovation_in_Procurement.pdf
SEIC, “Patent Searching: How to Re-Reinvent the Wheel,” Procurement Leaders. n.d., https://www.sei.center/open-case-studies/open-case-studies/patent-searching-how-to-re-reinvent-the-wheel
Tedeschi, Stephen. “Why Successful Research Begins with Better Patent Searching (Part 1).” CQ Life Sciences. August 4, 2016, https://www.gqlifesciences.com/why-successful-research-begins-with-better-patent-searching-part-1/