Licenses As Critical Sources Of Innovation

by Viktor Braun

Viktor Braun

Visiting Scholar at MIT, Sloan School of Management, Attorney and Counselor at Law, Currently Düsseldorf, Germany

In financially and economically unstable times, when stock markets become rollercoasters, apparent safe-havens such as mortgage lenders or re-insurance companies tumble and fall like cardboard houses, and economies across the world are on the brink of falling into deep recessions, it is natural for humans to search for comfort and stability in other realms of life. While nature, our bodies and the societies we have created operate in cycles, which occasionally lead to both positive and adverse extremes, there is a component of human evolution that has been remarkably strong and consistent in its upward pursuit: Technology. While due to the daunting demographic developments in many countries there are dark clouds of doubt about personal and national wealth progression, very few people would seriously question whether the world of tomorrow will be more technologically advanced. In this light, it is worth exploring where technological innovations originate from and how companies can develop promising R&D relationships.

In the previous part of this investigation as to the importance of licensing as a fruitful R&D instrument (les Nouvelles December, 2008 issue), we explained how the traditional view of licenses as commercialization instruments was incomplete. By demonstrating how licenses enabled Japan to become one of the worlds’ most technologically advanced nations, we indicated the potential of such agreements. In this part, we will show how licenses have contributed to the enhancement of human health. To this end, we will scrutinize the development of drugs, insulin and computerized dentistry. In part three, the final of this series, we will end our journey with a consideration of numerous revolutionary technologies, from the steam engine to the photocopier, as well as with a summary of lessons learned.

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