Innovation in the food industry is a fast moving feast. The market demands an ever changing array of product features, new packaging and in-vogue nutritional ingredients, and the prevailing idea that the need for intellectual property protection has lost its importance by the time it is granted leads many companies to miss opportunities to get the most from their intellectual assets.
Australian food companies need to think more strategically about managing their intellectual assets to gain competitive advantage.
Identifying value: what are your intellectual assets?
Intellectual assets include intellectual property rights – patents, trademarks and designs – and unregistered rights like copyright, trade secrets, contractual arrangements with clients, suppliers and staff, databases, customer lists, and brand equity.
But it is the human capital – experience, knowledge, skills, creativity and innovation – that is often overlooked. As a result, many companies consistently fritter away their potential value by not recognising and managing this knowledge.
So how do you extract value from your intellectual assets, and how do you identify the potential value in your business?
Linking business strategy to your IP
Intellectual asset management (IAM) is a relatively new concept in Australia. It’s a philosophy for managing a company’s intellectual assets to identify, unlock and derive value from them. It monitors competitor activity and identifies trends and opportunities in R&D. It encourages the company to think strategically about how it can manage its assets for commercial benefit.
Those companies adopting the IAM mindset are seeing an increased ability to differentiate from their competitors and to anticipate and supply future market niches.
They also understand their own capacity and the resources needed to see opportunities through from development to commercialisation –all viewed through the lens of the company’s business strategy.
Taking a holistic view
Yes, brand is important. But it sits within a broader framework, and should be intrinsically linked with the other intellectual assets in the business.
Intellectual assets can account for more than 80 per cent of a company’s value. And if you don’t have a management program in place, you won’t be getting the most out of them. It’s the proper management of those assets – that ‘hidden value’ – that can set you apart from competitors.