Theme 2: Commercial Exploitation of Knowledge and Inventions
Countries and regions around the world are increasingly trying to develop effective policies to promote successful knowledge transfer and commercial exploitation of new knowledge, new technologies and new inventions.
International analyses show that in some countries between 35 and 50 per cent of GDP growth since Second World War can be explained by national investments in research, new technologies and knowledge transfer.
Analyses also indicate that the contribution from research and new technologies to GDP growth has decreased during the last two decades. We must ensure a higher return on our national investments in research, developments and new inventions.
The global competition, the severe economic and debt crisis in Europe and the grand challenges of our societies increase the pressure on the European companies to innovate faster and improve the commercial exploitation of knowledge and inventions. The companies have to think in new ways, create new inventions and enhance market innovations. Companies should be better to exploit and understand the challenges and needs of modern societies with an aging population, climate changes, health and social problems, environmental problems and new energy sources. Old traditional industries have to reinvent themselves and knowledge and inventions have to be turned into new sustainable and growing start-ups. Capital markets also have to stabilize and support SMEs and entrepreneurs with better access to venture capital.
- But what are the key factors and features of a successfully commercial exploitation of knowledge and inventions
- What have they done different than commercial exploitation which have failed?
- And to what extent does the success or failure of a commercial exploitation depend on the policy of the nation/region?
This theme will give the policy makers an insight into the critical challenges of how to promote commercial exploitation of knowledge and inventions. What can we learn from other policy makers? What can we learn from enterprises and academia?
The theme is divided into two parts. The first part of the theme, Grand Challenges, will address two main challenges for commercial exploitation of new knowledge and inventions in Europe. The first challenge is the lack of early stage finance, and the second is how an economy successfully can foster the growth and development of a particular industry without becoming too dependant on it. Both challenges are motivated by a case describing Skype’s development from start-up to billion dollar buyout.
The second part is a stress test of European commercialisation and innovation schemes and focuses on what can be learned from these schemes. The stress test is based on two cases, that each describes a company’s experience with a European commercialisation or innovation scheme.
Team of co-moderators
Besides the three cases the theme will also include a four-man strong team of co-moderators. The co-moderators have been chosen because of their expert-knowledge of European commercialisation and innovation schemes. Each of the co-moderators is assigned to a specific case for which they will act as an impartial, but critical, opponent to the guest on stage. Hence the mission of the remaining co-moderators is to interrupt the case-discussions by challenging the statements made by the guest stars from each case.
Co-moderator - Grand Challenges - Finance: Emily Wise, Programme Manager, VINNOVA, Sweden
Co-moderator – Grand Challenges - Economic Growth: Ville Valovirta, Customer Manager, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland, Finland
Co-moderator – Stress Test - GoalRef: Karsten Vandrup, CEO, LizardTechnology, Denmark
Co-moderator – Stress Test - Gazelle Growth: Margaret E. Ward, founder of Clear Ink., Ireland
Grand Challenges: The true story behind Skype’s success – Who won and who lost?
By taking the history of Skype as the point of departure, Grand Challenges will focus on the lack of early stage finance and how an economy can foster growth in a particular industry without becoming too dependant on it.
Finance: Special guest star Christian Motzfeldt and co-moderator Emily Wise will discuss how the lack of early stage finance affects commercialisation in Europe by discussing the role of the Scandinavian and European venture capital market in the early stages of Skype’s development.
With up to 40 million users online at any given time and a total 600 million users Skype is the world leader in internet telephony today. Skype was founded in 2003 and sold to eBay in 2005 for a total of $4.1bn making the two founders Niklas Zennström (Sweden), Janus Friis (Denmark), and the three Estonian programmers, Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallin some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Baltic Sea Region to date.
The deal with eBay also produced a billion-dollar payoff to the Venture Funds, none of which were Scandinavian, who had provided the two founders with the necessary capital. Since the takeover eBay sold the majority of Skype to an investment group for $2bn and in 2011 Microsoft bought Skype for an astonishing $8.5bn, making Skype the largest acquisition in Microsoft history.
- Why was Skype a bad investment for Scandinavian venture capital?
- What are the challenges for venture capital in Europe?
- How does the venture capital market look like in 5-10 years
Special guest star:
Christian Motzfeldt, CEO, Vækstfonden, Denmark
Economic Growth: A short film showing the impact of Nokia’s recent closures of several R&D and manufacturing sites throughout Europe on the local economies will introduce the second theme of the Skype-case. By focusing on Skype’s decision to place their R&D department in Estonia and it’s increasingly importance for the Estonian R&D-industry special guest stars Mart Laatsit and Jana Kolar will, together with co-moderator Ville Valovirta, discuss how an economy can foster growth in a particular industry, and at the same time avoid becoming too economically dependant on it.
Skype decided to place their R&D department in Estonia because of it’s highly skilled workforce within the ICT-sector. Since the early 1990s, the Estonian government has carried out a focussed policy to secure Estonia’s transition to a digitised economy. Historically Estonia has been the hub for electronics and software in the region, which eased the transition.
- How has Estonia worked with ICT-infrastructure as a way of increase innovation?
- How does a country avoid being dependant on a few successful companies, while at the same time supporting them?
- How much impact has Skype's R&D department on Estonia?
- What has Estonia done to attract foreign ICT-intensive firms like Skype?
- Do we see a modern version of the mining industry in Europe?
Special guest star:
Mart Laatsit, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Estonia
Special guest star:
Jana Kolar, Morana RTD, Slovenia
Stress test of policy programmes on the commercial exploitation of knowledge and inventions
The stress test will look at companies and policy programmes that focus on commercial exploitation of knowledge and inventions. Is the ecosystem for innovation set up to manage the challenges that the companies faces?
At stage, each case will present their story and share their challenges, obstacles and mistakes on the way to success with the audience. Each case will be told from three different angles; from the company, from the programme owner/policy maker who has supported the company and from the evaluator that has evaluated the programme. The audience is invited to take active part in the discussions where a panel of experts will challenge the cases.
Stress test - How GoalRef Got the Financial Red Card: The European Ecosystem for Growth and Innovation
GoalRef is the story of how two Danish entrepreneurs, with an ingenious idea and with the help from the Alexandra Institute, a Danish technological institute, developed a fully functional technological solution to automatically register goals in football matches. However due to financial constraints the entrepreneurs were forced to sell the production rights to the Fraunhofer Institute, a German technological institute, thus moving jobs from Denmark to Germany.
Company owner Ulrik Merrild and programme owner Ole Lehrman Madsen will together with co-moderator Karsten Vandrup discuss the following questions:
- What was missing in the Danish ecosystem for innovation to be able to both develop and commercialize GoalRef?
- If the entrepreneurs behind GoalRef should do it again, what would they do differently?
- Do small countries have a challenge with big ideas?
- What can national policy makers learn from GoalRef, when designing the next ecosystem for innovation?
Company owner: Ulrik Merrild, CEO, GoalRef/Mercon, Denmark
Programme owner: Ole Lehrmann Madsen, The Alexandra Institute, Denmark
Stress test - Gazelle Growth Programme: When Success Is Not Enough
The Gazelle Growth Programme is one the most celebrated innovation and commercialization schemes in Denmark. The programme was launched in February 2007 and a mid-term evaluation was conducted in 2008 and 2009. Despite the positive feed back given by the companies involved in the programme and a recommendation to continue the programme from the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation, the programme was terminated by the end of 2010.
The objective of the Gazelle Growth Programme is to accelerate the growth of Danish small and medium-sized knowledge intensive companies with high potential for innovation and international growth over a period of three years. This takes place through directed advice, training and networking activities. 50 companies have been associated with the programme.
Company owner Henrik Lottrup and programme owner Peter Torstensen will together with co-moderator Margaret E. Ward will discuss the following questions:
- Is it possible to pick a potential growth company and transform it into a successfully export growing company?
- What does it takes to transform SME’s into successfull export growing companies today?
- What is the policy learning’s from the Danish Gazelle Growth programme?
- Do European SME’s have what it takes to get success in the USA and in the BRIC countries?
Company owner: Henrik Lottrup, CEO, Languagewire, Denmark
Programme owner: Peter Torstensen, CEO, Symbion Accelerator, Denmark
Facilitator at the Gazelle Growth’s camps: Ted Zoller, Senior Fellow, The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, USA (video interview)