We have a goal of trying to say that certain patent indicators are not just useful for academic research—because there are many indicators that have been found to be useful by academic researchers trying to make a point about the evolution of company corporate strategy, for instance. This is so much still in the academic world and it's not quite getting out there.
The Entrepreneurship Centre at NUS is a collective of researchers focused on furthering understanding of innovation practices in applied settings, using insights uncovered in academia—and vice versa.
What are the objectives of the Entrepreneurship Centre?
Yuen Ping explains, “we have a goal of trying to say that certain patent indicators are not just useful for academic research… Industry can learn to use these indicators to do things like benchmarking their own rate of catching up to a market leader, or to measure how far are you behind a market leader. And there are indicators that have already been proven in academic research to be really useful.”
She aptly conveys that for the Entrepreneurship Centre, the goal isn’t to conduct research solely to arrive at findings—but also to influence the way people make decisions.
Achieving this takes more than access to patent data—you also need to understand what that data means, find patterns in large amounts of it and use it to reveal pockets of opportunity.
What are some challenges faced in the pursuit of this objective?
Ho Yuen Ping explains that one of the first and biggest challenges faced by the Entrepreneurship Centre relates to the process of collecting and analysing patent data. This was a manual chore which she estimates was unnecessarily costing the university tens of thousands of dollars:
“You know, you couldn't escape it. So [with] the PatSnap subscription base, everything is online. If you don’t want, you don't have to download... It [PatSnap] probably saved us tens of thousands of dollars in manpower and buying the raw data—then paying someone to maintain a database and having to host our own SQL server…”
Finally, Yuen Ping says it’s important to make sure the small team in the Entrepreneurship Centre isn't wasting time on duplicate work, while going down individual research rabbit holes.
How does PatSnap help the Entrepreneurship Centre solve these challenges?
Ho Yuen Ping says the PatSnap Platform allows the Entrepreneurship Centre to reveal strategic insights, based on combinations of multifaceted data points, and share these with institutions that need them.
The Entrepreneurship Centre is showing the full innovation landscape to such institutions so they can answer progress-catalysing questions:
“…Basically, this is where we try and position that our approach—the insights approach—is a way to understand individual universities against a basket of comparable universities, as well as a whole country— like the Hong Kong case is ‘How do Hong Kong universities compare against Asian universities?’ So, the interest has been very high. Of course, it's very policy, government-level interest… and we actually have been approached to do more of this kind of analysis for various other universities and public research institutes.”
On how PatSnap improves intra-team collaboration, Ho Yuen Ping says, “…It does reduce the duplicate work because the PatSnap platform allows us to keep a record of what we've done, so that's great.”
On using PatSnap to understand technology areas and opportunities within them, Ho Yuen Ping says, “We have a couple of offices… that use PatSnap in communicating—so, they are able to discuss, ‘This is where a technology is at.’ ‘These are the areas that you should be going into.’ ‘This is the potential for your invention, given what the landscape is.’ So, it's really useful in communicating between researchers when marketing inventions.”
Overall, Ho Yuen Ping explains, “That's the beauty of patents—because they’re like the in-between. The language—the claims part of a patent—is very technical, so that's the R&D side. But there's also the legal aspect—so the IP aspect of it. Patents are very ideally suited to bridge the two. So, I guess the [PatSnap] platform is good because it provides the means for dialogue to happen.”
Why does the Entrepreneurship Centre choose PatSnap?
In Ho Yuen Ping’s words, PatSnap’s special qualities lie not only in the product but also in the human relationships:
“Perhaps the most important thing is we don't have the relationship with those other organisations that we do have with PatSnap—we know there's an ability for PatSnap to listen and provide us with (sometimes) a more customised solution… because everyone else would be just off the shelf.”