Stories of inventors and their inventions: Minesto and their brand of marine energy technology
This article was written by the IP Team of InnoEnergy
We all read stories about the innovators of today and how their products or services make a difference. In this series of publications, we shed light on a side that often remains in the dark and unknown to the public: their patented inventions and the impact they have had on other innovators across society. We did the research and summarised our findings.
World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated every year on the 26th of April to spread awareness about the role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity. This year, the focus was on innovation for a greener future. Energy production alone accounts for about 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union (EU) making the transition to cleaner energy increasingly important in the fight to mitigate climate change.
Minesto is one of the companies involved in the quest to produce cleaner energy. Founded in 2007 as a spin-off from Swedish aerospace manufacturer Saab, their patented ‘Deep Green’ technology converts renewable energy, from tidal and ocean currents, into electricity via a novel principle, following that done by a kite in wind.
The assembly consists of a wing and turbine attached by a tether to a fixed point on the ocean bed, which has minimal negative effects on the ecosystem. A hydrodynamic lift force created by the underwater current lifts the kite, which is steered in a figure of 8, pushing the turbine through the water at a speed which is 10 times that of the water´s, which in turn results in increased power generation.
The company has succeeded in turning its tidal energy technology into patent assets, a deliberate strategic choice that has proven to be one of the key factors for their success. They are growing in a structured way, proving along the way that they are prepared for the exploitation of their inventions and that they are prepared for potential future alliances and licensing deals. IP to them is clearly more than a means for blocking competitors.
Without their efficient IP strategy and strong IP portfolio they would be much more exposed to intellectual theft by potential competitors and less attractive to potential investors. Michael Rösman, project manager at Minesto, claims that implementing a clear IP strategy proved essential in attracting capital. “Our wise IP strategy reinforces and gives confidence in our ability to maintain a healthy profit on our new unique product over time. IP is a resource and we shall make the best use possible of all our resources”.
He also emphasises the importance of IP education within the company, “If we were to point out two specific actions as the most important they would be to educate the employees about the importance of IP and to set IP-strategic goals. These two actions have created an IP awareness within the company and given us a clear picture of what we want to achieve and how we can do that together.” His recommendations to other startups in relation to IP development include: educating employees in IP, setting up an innovation process - including creating an invention disclosure form for each new invention, creating a patent team, creating and implementing an IP strategy in line with the business strategy and making sure to keep it all organized.
Minesto’s IP strategy is set up to provide cost-efficient protection, ensure freedom to operate and create conditions to generate financial and other resources needed for the growth of Minesto’s business. They have developed an effective Patent Strategy, a Trademark Strategy, an Enforcement Strategy and an Innovation Process. The strategies include annual objectives related to the IP strategic goals and describe how Minesto continuously applies, monitors, and if necessary, defend and enforce important Minesto IP rights. They work thoroughly and in an organized way with both the creation of future IP assets and the protection of all existing IP assets. “In relation to our IP development and its influence in this matter, we would probably have filed a few more patent applications if we could turn back time, but all in all we would not do that much differently.” Michael says.
The authors of the publications have used publicly available information only and no private information was handed to them by the innovators or third parties.
The IP team at InnoEnergy specializes in combining public sources and state of the art research tools, to provide our innovative member companies with business intelligence. In this case the following sources were used: