Advice for Scientist Entrepreneurs
Cultivating A Culture of Invention
Written by Tamsen Valoir, PhD for Gaebler Ventures
Encouraging invention is the first step to creating valuable intellectual property. We look at what organizations must do in order to motivate employees to create proprietary science and apply for patents.
Scientists in the life sciences may not be in the habit of thinking about invention and commercialization, and sometimes they don't even believe that patents SHOULD be awarded for life science research.
But to be successful, a company must cultivate a culture of invention. After all, without commercialization, even the best science will never benefit the public and without patents, basic research often can't get funded.
Start down the right road by having monthly patent meetings where employees can brainstorm about product ideas and new methodologies.
Reward each employee for filing a patent disclosure and then again on patent issuance. It doesn't have to be a large amount of money—a small honorarium coupled with recognition and a plaque go a long way towards making scientists take the time away from their research and write up a good patent disclosure.
Having donuts or pizza at all meetings helps too!
More Tips for Scientist Entrepreneurs
To learn more about how to bring a product out of the laboratory and transition from the role of scientist to that of entrepreneur, please browse the rest of the tips for science entrepreneurs in this article series:
- Transitioning from Science to Sale - We introduce our 10 tips for entrepreneurial scientists who want to take their science to market.
- 1. Getting it in Writing - Before you get too far along in the process, it's imperative that you put together written contracts that define ownership rights, confidentiality and other important obligations and understandings.
- 2. Cultivating A Culture of Invention - Encouraging invention is the first step to creating valuable intellectual property. We look at what organizations must do in order to motivate employees to create proprietary science and apply for patents.
- 3. Getting Inventorship Right - Patent laws require that you get inventorship right. Get it wrong and you can lose the patent. Here are some simple ways to avoid making a mistake in the naming of inventors.
- 4. Using Hardbound Notebooks - Your lab notebook could end up being used as evidence to invalidate your patent claim. We discuss the proper use of hardbound lab notebooks to ensure proper IP protection.
- 5. Planning a Patent Strategy - Filing patents can be an intimidating endeavor, but there are some best practices for scientist entrepreneurs that you ought to know about.
- 6. Planning an FDA Strategy - Knowing these tips for getting FDA approval will come in handy if you are working on new drugs or medical devices.
- 7. Loosening the Reins - You can't do it all. Scientists entrepreneurs must know when to transition leadership and when it's time to bring in the pros.
- 8. Stirring Public Interest - Promoting your science before you commercialize can smooth the road to funding...but there are a few mistakes you can make if you are not careful.
- 9. Financing the Company - It takes money to make money. Here are a few things to know about the funding process.
- 10. Preparing for Due Diligence - Due diligence involves intense scrutiny of all of your documents. It's critical to keep your documents well-organized and readily accessible.
Tamsen Valoir, PhD is a partner in the Houston office of Baker & McKenzie, LLP. She has a JD and LLM in Intellectual Property, a doctorate in molecular biology from Rice University, and her practice is primarily in intellectual property in the life sciences. As a leading Houston patent attorney, she can assist scientists with patent preparation and prosecution, opinion writing, IP due diligence and licensing in the life sciences. She can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at (713) 427-5007.
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