Thursday, October 17, 2013

The intellectual property gap

Gap filler book exchangeThe results of the annual Market Measures* study are out again. The study provides an overview of how New Zealand tech companies typically take their innovations to market. This year a record 346 companies put in the time and effort to complete the survey, up 25% on 2012.

Export focussed

Market Measures’ annual benchmarks continue to paint a picture of a buoyant, export-focused sector with a consistent commitment to the marketing and selling of products. In 2013 77% of New Zealand companies surveyed were exporting.

New Zealand's small domestic market forces most companies offshore early. Over half of the start-ups in the study are exporting. On average companies export to three or four countries. Exports to the USA have doubled since the 2010 survey, while non-traditional tech markets in Singapore, China and South East Asia are also getting stronger.

Intellectual Property Aware ...

It is good to see that only 10% of companies surveyed see no commercial value in protecting their intellectual property, and that only 6% consider intellectual property as not relevant to their business.

So the majority of companies see commercial value in protecting their intellectual property. But are we doing it well?

... but not Intellectual Property Savvy

Kiwi tech firms rate themselves strongly on design, production, managing money and staff. Overall they lack confidence at selling, marketing and protecting IP. Here's a list of commercialisation activities that New Zealand companies do. The items at the top of the list are things our companies believe they are good at. The ones at the bottom of the list, not so much.

  • Product design

  • Managing finances

  • Product development and manufacturing

  • Recruitment and retention of staff

  • Legal contracts

  • Business strategy and goals

  • Selling

  • Protection of intellectual property

  • Marketing and promotion

Tech companies see commercial value in protecting their intellectual property, but are not confident that they do it well.

What now?

It is great to see our export focussed companies recognise the commercial value in protecting their intellectual property. The challenge now is to help our companies get better at aligning their business strategy with their intellectual property strategy. We need to fill the gap.

*Market Measures was founded in 2009 by Concentrate Limited as a national study that benchmarks the sales and marketing activity of New Zealand’s technology companies. The aim of this survey is to give Kiwi technology companies useful information for planning their sales and marketing strategies.

Photo courtesy of author Christchurch City Libraries under Creative Commons licence.

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