Intellectual Ventures, the IP aggregator — some would say patent troll — that has built a huge stockpile of patent assets, is expanding into Asia as a first step into global markets, and it plans to offer TTO-type services to universities there, as well as look for IP acquisition opportunities. Company co-founders Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung, the former Microsoft execs who launched the company in 2000, will be busy this month hosting press conferences and opening five offices in the region. The company’s new regional headquarters is in Singapore, with additional offices opening in Tokyo, Bangalore, Beijing, and Seoul.
The company has sought to shed the “troll” label, noting that it is conducting its own research and describing itself as an “invention investment company” that is creating a more liquid market for IP. A recent release describes its business model as focused “on creating, acquiring and licensing inventions in a variety of technology areas,” which it intends to commercialize “through licensing, spin-offs, joint ventures and industry partnerships.” And now, as part of its Asia expansion, Innovation Ventures will take on many tasks common to TTOs for universities in the Far East that don’t have sufficient infrastructure to commercialize their research. “Most inventing organizations like universities and nonprofits have a tech transfer office or a technology licensing office. Most institutions in Asia don’t,” Myhrvold says. Intellectual Ventures, he adds, wants to “be an outsourced tech transfer agent for inventing institutions that don’t have [a TTO]. We can provide the same functionality that you’d get from a technology licensing office. We evaluate ideas, we pay for them to be patented, we provide a little bit of funding for them, and then we license them. There’s no reason that smart people in Asia shouldn’t be able to get the same traction that Stanford provides.”
The company’s Asian expansion was inspired and led by Jung, who serves as chief technology officer. “Despite the growing numbers of leading scientists, researchers, technologists and other inventors in Asia, many of these inventors lacked access to the appropriate resources required to bring their ideas to a larger global audience. I am struck by the gap between Asia’s collective, innovative talent and the lack of resources for Asia’s greatest inventors. [Intellectual Ventures] is working to fill this gap,” Jung notes. Go to: Intellectual Ventures, Xconomy, and Xconomy (2nd article)