Patents dancing in the spring
All the hard work I invested in 2012 to rescue the Eurozone with biotechnology has reaped a new reward in 2013, as the European Parliament and Council finally approved the European patent in December. We can now look forward to a revolution in the commercialisation of innovation, as a unified Europe opens the doors to lower cost and wider impact patents. Many accuse the EU of over-caution, like an old lady wrapped up warm on a summer’s day, but this is a glorious example of Europe going a bit mad and dancing naked in the street. Metaphorically, of course. It’s far too cold for that in reality right now.
My friend Steven Zeman can give you the formal overview of what the unified patent means for Europe (as he actually knows what he is talking about) so I will just relax and enjoy the feeling of freedom that the patent gives to technology in Europe.
I am intrigued to know how Europe will score on innovation rankings worldwide now, as universities can afford to protect more great science and SMEs don’t have to sell their grandmothers to bring their precious technology to an investable stage. We can expect to see far more patented innovations from collaborative research and people bold enough to take risks, as you have to do in biotechnology. We can also expect to see many technologies hitting the market at an earlier stage. Now you don’t have to hide it in your pocket for 10 years until you can finally afford that patent, or know for sure that it will do something.
Will this help to liberate Europe from its traditionally cautious approach to early-stage businesses? Let’s hope so. I would love to see European entrepreneurs seize the day and investors take early-stage opportunities more seriously. We yearn for the bold investments seen on the other side of the Atlantic. But money talks very quietly on this side of the pond, often because it is still muffled in the pockets of VCs who, in the face of early-stage companies, increasingly resemble me when my children describe the latest ‘must-have’ game or gadget, without which they will surely die.
This is not just about the point of purchasing patents. It’s also about the fact that it changes the whole value chain of innovation, and makes a serious statement from Europe as a whole. And that statement is that there might be a defragmentation of finance through the unfortunate situation of there being no money out there, but there has now also been a defragmentation of innovation because that is the right and glorious thing to do. Europe should be very proud of itself. Vive la revolution!