Sabina Di Risio shares how PatSnap has improved EcoSynthetix’ ability to address opportunities more proactively
Could you tell us a little more about your role at EcoSynthetix?
“I am the technology scouting manager here at EcoSynthetix, and I’m responsible for three core innovation processes.
“I professionally scout market trends related to core, adjacent and emerging technologies to identify potential opportunities. Part of this involves establishing alliances and development activities with universities, organisations and industrial partners. These activities channel technology-related information into EcoSynthetix, supporting the acquisition of new technologies and initiating R &D projects.
“I also manage EcoSynthetix’s intellectual property pipeline. I conduct portfolio valuations, identify opportunities for new IP acquisitions and optimize our existing IP portfolio whilst liaising with inventors, patent attorneys and patent agencies around the world.
“And finally, I look after our innovation process in its entirety, trying to determine the preliminary techno-economic feasibility, addressable market and sustainable value of our innovation projects. This includes monitoring our innovation cycle using performance metrics to identify opportunities for improvement and streamlining, which supports and ensures continuity and alignment in the pursuit of near-term and long-term R &D goals.”
As a company, what are some of your key focuses for 2018?
“EcoSynthetix’ business engine is ‘continuous innovation’, and that will remain our focus for 2018.
“Our long-term growth strategy also remains the same, we will continue to penetrate the global paper and paperboard market, developing additional applications in new sectors through an accelerated R &D effort along the way. This year, we will be entering new markets outside of paper and paperboard as our DuraBind™ engineered biopolymers are effective replacements for formaldehyde-based binders in the building materials market. Formaldehyde binders are increasingly considered a public health risk by the U.S. EPA.
“With some of our products already being used by leading manufacturers within the paper and paperboard industry, our 2018 growth in these markets will be driven through increased substitution rates at existing mills, commercializing new mills within existing customers, and winning new customers.”
What are the typical challenges you’ve come up against within your industry? As a business or you personally?
“Our daily challenge as a company is to turn great ideas into products that meet all three of the following requirements simultaneously: performance, cost and sustainable value. Consumers will not pay more for green products, they’ll only pay the equivalent of other products on the market so you need to obtain solutions that can work at the intersection of the three core requirements.
“For me personally within my technology scouting role and having to provide intelligence about technologies and their innovation ecosystems, challenges can arise around speed, time and varying levels of granularity. Challenges of speed relate to producing the intelligence on demand when internal stakeholders need it. Time challenges are reporting on technology spaces from the past, present and future in an effective way. And finally, I report on these technology trends at varying levels of granularity; macro level (technology field-specific), micro view (company-specific), and nano level (patent-specific).
“Other challenges come when evaluating our competitive landscape, trying to identify possible licensing opportunities, areas of freedom to operate or possible future infringement to avoid. I also have internal challenges when exploring our innovation process, trying to find interrelations between different stakeholders within our business ecosystem. I have to ask myself: are there synergies, opportunities or weaknesses amongst what we’re doing?”
How has PatSnap been able to add value to your work?
“PatSnap’s Analytics and Insights tools have been valuable pieces in EcoSynthetix’ technology scouting toolbox since 2016. It has improved innovation productivity and proactivity while decreasing costs, and the turnaround of scouting reports and IP scorecards has been accelerated.
“PatSnap takes care of the most time–consuming and repetitive steps, freeing up time for strategic assessments, planning and decision making. Increased speed complemented with the ability to mine information in a number of ways through PatSnap has enabled addressing our opportunities more proactively . PatSnap has generally helped us become more future-oriented with everything we do.
“Features within PatSnap have also helped our business’ internal R &D and IP collaboration. It’s helped us understand how information and value flows from different stakeholders, making the value connection clearer and more transparent.
“PatSnap also helps us in identifying more innovation opportunities. Instead of waiting for things to come to us, either from a conference or publication, we go after it. Although events and conferences are good for identifying these new opportunities, I think there is a lot of power through doing it through software like PatSnap.
“PatSnap has helped EcoSynthetix navigate the technology, IP and innovation landscapes of our business ecosystem with agility and cost-effectiveness. The tool essentially helps us know what we don’t know, and brings the technology straight to our desks.”
Are there any personal drivers behind what you’re doing?
“I was born in a small province in Argentina. From my grandparents, Italian immigrants, I learned about honesty, hard work and entrepreneurship. From my parents, both teachers, I developed a keen interest in learning, asking questions and searching for answers. I pursued undergraduate and graduate degrees in Chemical Engineering, in Argentina and in Canada.
“Initially, I worked in the pulp and paper industry for 9 years for a mature company, I then spent 3 years at a cellulosic ethanol startup, and I have been with EcoSynthetix which is a young SME since 2012.
“My upbringing, education and career journey all have a common thread: working on meaningful challenges at the intersection of technology, sustainability and ethical business. I am part of EcoSynthetix because I strongly believe that humble, dedicated, like-minded innovators collaborating as a team can develop new green products for a healthier and more sustainable planet. Through the fruits of our labour we can drive incremental value and systematic positive change.”