Lou Lombardo shares how Takasago is helping their customers have a competitive advantage now, and in the future.
Could you tell us a little bit more about your role?
“I work in the research and development group. We’re a global corporation so our corporate headquarters is based in Japan but we have an R &D function in the United States. I’m part of a small group which focuses on targeted R &D projects that support our global customers.
“I’ve kind of changed roles in the last six months. I was a synthetic chemist for a long time working in the chemistry group, and then my function changed a little bit. Now I’m doing more technology development, taking internal technologies that have been developed through our pipeline and trying to help our creative people utilize them. I’m still integrated with the chemistry group and I still work with them on new projects, designing ingredients and many other kinds of internal development projects.”
What are some of the key focuses for you at the moment?
“We sell flavors and fragrances to some of the largest consumer products companies in the world. Our day to day work is focused on developing new technologies that can go into these flavors or fragrances that we sell. Our customers come to us and ask us to help solve a problem they have, or help provide technologies that they can put in their products that are going to sell well in the market.
“So, in addition to troubleshooting our customer’s problems we are also doing research, trying to find innovative ways of using flavors & fragrances and identifying new processes that can deliver some technical benefit for our customers. We have a pipeline of new materials which are always in motion for commercializing new useful ingredients.”
What are some of the biggest challenges in your industry right now?
“In general, a lot of the new challenges we’ve noticed relate to malodour coverage. We are looking at how we can develop flavors and fragrances, or technologies inside of those flavors and fragrances to offset the bad odors that happen.
“There are many kinds of technologies that our industry uses to counteract those bad odors. We’ve been trying to stay in tune with the patent literature because it is something that we know our customers are interested in. It’s always changing and our customers are always looking for an advantage in that specific area. It’s not just about delivering a good smell anymore it’s also about covering up the bad smells. If someone identifies a bad smell, they want it to go away.
“From an R &D perspective we’re always trying to be a step ahead and come up with new things that hopefully the market will be ready for in two to five years. As a company, however, we must balance where we are right now with where we need to be. We’ve got to service our day to day, and ensure our customers have what they need for them to be competitive right now. But we must also try and make sure that we have new things that are going to keep our customers happy long term as well.”
How has PatSnap helped address some of your challenges?
“I can speak from a chemistry perspective, as I was doing that for a long time, and it’s where we primarily use the tool. PatSnap has been very useful in identifying white space and has allowed us to see where we can work and discover new molecules that can be relevant to our business.
“We are able to identify where our competitors are working, keeping tabs on the things that they are patenting and trying to identify which of those patents are most important commercially. Up until we started using PatSnap, we were limited to very basic patent searches that just provided some text, abstracts and then we had to try and identify all the key information within those patents.
“With PatSnap, we are now much further down the road. We can pull up information and get a much better snapshot of where our competitors’ intellectual property fits into the market, and consider how we can then use that knowledge to work more efficiently. We need to make sure we are competitive because our customers demand that and it is good for business.”
What impact has PatSnap had on your work from how things were before?
“We’ve gotten much more comfortable when new IP is released by our competitors. We can quickly understand where it fits in the overall scheme of a portfolio, and how it fits into the market as a whole. This is a real timesaver, because in the past while that was all important, it wasn’t easy to get. Before, things would lag and you wouldn’t receive that information until someone identified a new product on the market, or our competitors showcased something.
“I feel that now we can be a little more proactive, and keep on top of things better. It doesn’t necessarily save us money today; however, it saves us in the long run and ensures we can be more agile in understanding where the market is going.”
Are there personal drivers behind what you’re doing? Why is this so important for you?
“I graduated from school and started in the R &D group at Takasago, doing small molecule development and making new materials in the laboratory. That was 18 years ago and I’ve been here ever since, I’ve seen a lot of things come and go over the years.
“We haven’t found many things that have impacted our work and become an important staple of the things that we do the way that PatSnap has. It has been a very useful tool for us as a company. We now have colleagues in Japan, France and Germany who have started using PatSnap, so it is becoming more useful to us globally as well. I’m hopeful that as time goes by, we will find that PatSnap is even more important to how we work.”