EIRMA Insights 2015

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EIRMA Insight is based on the discussions of senior industrial research and innovation practitioners at EIRMA meetings. 

Here you will find the EIRMA Insight of 2015:

EIRMA Insights 2015  

Innovation is vital to the health of our businesses, economies, and planet. Without a commitment to develop new products, services and business models, businesses and economies will be unable to retain their positions in increasingly competitive global markets, and societies will lack the tools to tackle challenges such as climate change and ageing populations.

The European Industrial Research Management Association has a special place in the innovation ecosystem. It acts as the key forum in which senior industrial research, development and innovation professionals share their current, practical experience and insights. 

 2015 has been another challenging year for European industry, and so our programme has focused on things that members can do now to provide short-term advantages, as well as discussing topics that are likely to present mid- and long-term challenges.

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Standards and patents - business friend or foe?  

The ICT sector has a long tradition of creating industry standards that use intellectual property from many sources as their foundation. To ensure that the resultant standards are open to all, these ’standards essential patents’ (SEPs) are usually licensed on 'fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory’ (FRAND) terms - an approach that works best when most of the participants have contributed and so the value each is sharing is well balanced.

As ICT plays an increasingly important role in other industries, it is likely that concepts of SEP and FRAND will spread with them into IP negotiations. This EIRMA Insight, based on a meeting of the Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management in Padua in December, explored the opportunities and challenges this represents. Find out:

  • How IP rights are being eroded by a shift in the balance between free trade and IP protection legislation
  • How you can use Games Theory to drive your strategy during IP negotiations
  • How major cases among global companies such as Apple, Samsung, Huawei and ZTE, is shaping the law about SEPs and FRAND 
  • Alternative approaches to managing IP, specially in longterm collaborations

Members can download the full EIRMA Insight here

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Understanding IP in Italy - A beginner's guide  

Italy has a unique approach to protecting and enforcing IP rights, forging its own path in everything from the numbering scheme it uses for IP documents to the way public research organisations exploit the IP they develop. Members of EIRMA’s Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management met in Padua in December to hear about Italy’s approach, from leading practitioners at organisations including Pirelli, CNR and LyondellBasell

  • How to get an Italian judge to come with you on a raid to gather evidence against a suspected infringer
  • Why it may be difficult to check your ‘freedom to operate’ in Italy
  • Why you might end up with research results, but not IP rights, when you pay an Italian PRO to work for you
  • And more 

Members can download the full EIRMA Insight here. 

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Helping experts have more impact on your business  

How do you make the most of the expertise that your senior R&D people have developed over the years, sometimes decades, that they have been with your company? 

Members of EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management were hosted at Michelin's Clermont-Ferrand research centre in November 2015 to discuss how to develop the careers of in-house experts and to take the most benefit from their insights and experience

  • What experts and Fellows are really for
  • How to decide whether to create an expert/fellow role
  • What you should expect from experts/Fellows
  • How Rolls-Royce and Nestle run their Fellowship programmes
  • How Michelin approaches training experts/Fellows
  • How you can more directly engage experts and Fellows in serving the business's needs

And more, from additional contributors at DSM Nutritional Products, Philips, IBM Research, and more.

Members can download the full EIRMA Insight here

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 From idea to invention - Managing the early phases of IP creation   

How do you create an environment that both accelerates invention and protects the resultant ideas from misuse by competitors? Members of EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Intellectual Asset Management met in Helsinki earlier this year to discuss this topic and share best practice. Presentations from representatives of companies including Ahlstrom, DSM, Kemira, Umicore and Unilever outlined some of the strategies these companies use to protect their emerging ideas

This EIRMA Insight includes details of strategies for rewarding investors, managing crowdsourced idea generation, targeting invention, and the role of IP in setting innovation and business strategy. The Insight also includes a set of Action Points, things you can do today to improve the way you protect your company's best ideas. 

Here are the first four Action Points: 

  • Consider a tiered reward structure for inventions disclosures that depends on the success of the idea, but remember there are different levels of contribution, as well as local legal requirements that need to be respected 
  • If you're going to appeal for ideas, either generally throughout your company or from the public, ensure you have the processes and resources to assess and feed back about them properly
  • Consider inverting the relationship between invention and IP, by working out what (patent) claims you want to be able to make for a new product and process, and then asking staff to find ways to deliver those claims
  • IP considerations can play a major role in shaping business strategy but it takes a lot of rigorous processes and deep experience to be able to argue that a business should take a particular path because of the IP implications of doing so. 

EIRMA members can download the detailed Insight here

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Making Europe the eldorado for Innovation  

Europe is a great place to innovate - it has a home market of more than half a billion people, many of whom have high levels of income and education in global terms. Unfortunately, investments in research, development and innovation is shifting to other economies, with larger populations and faster growth rates. EIRMA's annual conference, held in Luxembourg in April, asked how to reverse this trend and turn Europe into the El Dorado of innovation

 In this EIRMA Insight you can read about:

  • a call for industry to partner with governments to help update governance strategies and improve the management of complex issues
  • prospects for a Third Industrial Revolution, based on breakthroughs in communications, energy and finance
  • Europe's potential  to lead a global shift to a more people-centred approach to innovation
  • how some companies are already thriving in the "circular economy"
  • how Europe needs to change to retain and encourage more research, development and innovation

EIRMA's annual conference took place alongside that of the European Association of Research Technology Organisations (EARTO). In a shared session, EIRMA and EARTO members discussed ways to improve Europe's innovation propects by sharing technical resources and infrastructure more effectively. This Insight covers those discussions, too, including issues such as: 

  • the practicalities of sharing research infrastructure 
  • the role of regional specialisation in a global competitive market
  • the role of shared infrastructure in technology transfer from RTOs to industry
  • facilitating access to R&D infrastructure

EIRMA members can download the detailed Insight here

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Capitalising on Experts' Knowledge and Insights  

Every company needs experts to whom it can bring its most difficult issues. The problem with experts is that their expertise is hard to access - if they're working on one problem then they can't be working on another. In the longer term, they either change jobs or retire, taking their expertise with them.

EIRMA's Special Interest Group on Knowledge Management met in Brussels in March to discuss ways to make experts' knowledge and insights more widely accessible. In this EIRMA Insight you'lle read about:

  • how cement company Lafarge has developed its knowledge management strategy to encourage more of its staff to be "sharers" than "takers"
  • Michelin's efforts to capture experts' knowledge in a moire shareable form
  • three useful processes for knowledge capture 
  • *process mapping 
  • *concept mapping 
  • *knowledge engineering and modularisation
  • work being done at Airbus to extract knowledge from existing datasets using artificial intelligence techniques
  • the output of four carousel sessions held at the meeting at which KM SIG members shared their experiences of  
  • * learning during project ramp-up and ramp-down 
  • * capturing knowledge from retirees 
  • * getting new hires up to speed 
  • * dealing with shifting competence requirements - in individuals and in teams.

EIRMA members can download the detailed Insight here

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Responsible Innovatin in Action  

What is responsible innovation and what does it mean for industrial R&D? An EIRMA taskforce has been studying this issue for the last two years, motivated in part by a sense that "Responsible Innovation" could be the next "Sustainability" - an issue to which R&D groups will soon have to have a response. At the latest meeting, the taskforce met with representatives from other EIRMA companies and the European Commission to discuss the practical implications of the developing responsible innovation agenda.

In this Insights you can find out about:

  • why flooring maker Tarkett has embraced responsible innovation and how it is changing the way they work,
  • how Solvay has built a process that integrates responsible innovation with its company culture and corporate social responsibility strategy,
  • how the ICT industry could provide a model for those who want to start addressing the issue in a simple way,
  • the Commission's more broadly drawn Responsible Research and Innovation strategy and how it could affect H2020 and beyond.

There are also details of a discussion that crystallised EIRMA's thinking on responsible innovation into five areas to be addressed:

  • the scope of responsible research and innovation
  • how to talk about responsibility when values vary so much
  • how to deal with situations where different stakeholders have different understandings of risk
  • how EIRMA can make the case to its members for the value of responsible innovation
  • concerns about regulation blocking innovation

EIRMA members can download the full Insight here

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Communicating the Value of R&D  

Industrial R&D has a PR problem. After years of pressure to embrace change, go global, boost profits, cut costs, and do more with less, many corporate functions, such as sales or operations, feel over-measured and under-appreciated. For them, R&D seems like a black box into which money pours now but from which results may drip later - if at all.

It's a crude characterisation, but one with a grain of truth. It's hard for R&D to communicate the value of its work to the organisation and the wider world. EIRMA members met in January 2015 to discuss ways to tackle this issue, during the annual Representatives' Round Table in Brussels. 

Here's a few of the Action Points that emerged from the meeting: 

  • Be positive about the past, current and future contribution of R&D - play offence, not defence
  • Ask colleagues to quantify the risks of not doing R&D 
  • Consider creating "shortcuts", such as the GE Germany Innovation Forum, to get closer to customers and in doing so, to promote R&D to an enterprise-level activity 

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