What led you to establish Asia’s first private IP bank – and what challenges have you had to overcome along the way?
From my 20-plus years in the industry, I could see that there was a huge gap in IP awareness among multinationals, while for SMEs and start-ups there was a systemic lack of access to – and ownership of – intellectual property. Being an innovator at heart, I founded Piece Future with a mission to drive the growth of companies through the power of intellectual property.
Since our establishment in 2017 we have faced many challenges, mainly due to a scattered IP landscape across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the need to build awareness of our IPHatch platform for our ecosystem network across multiple cities.
What are the key characteristics of an excellent IP strategy – and how can IP investments benefit corporations as a whole?
This is by no means an exhaustive list of characteristics, but when we do a deep dive into the patent technicalities, we want to ascertain how robust and future-proof the rights are, relative to current and future global trends. Such a deep dive also gives us a good sense of how well the patents would hold up for defensive or offensive strategies.
We also assess the overall size of the patent portfolios being maintained, as this has a direct impact on the annuities due.
These are just some of the key characteristics that we look out for in our in-house dynamic market patent valuation system, Valuation360, which evaluates market, technology and legal potentials. The system helps our clients to manage and commercialise challenging portfolios and, in so doing, to uncover numerous hidden gems in their patent portfolios and generate manifold returns from their investments.
In terms of how IP investments can benefit corporations on a whole, intellectual property can be used to bring value to all companies at different stages of maturity, across different territorial regions.
We help our global clients to embrace IP investments as a new avenue to reach out to fast-growing SMEs and start-ups. It also serves as a viable alternative to intra-company innovation.
What are your top three tips for ensuring long-lasting relationships with international clients?
I would say that it is of utmost importance to identify the needs of the client, in order to customise a scope of work that will deliver true value to their business.
My next tip would be to ensure that you actually deliver on the high calibre of work that has been promised!
Finally, I would advocate constant innovation, in order to provide fresh business ideas to clients.
How do you expect IP investment to evolve across the ASEAN region in the coming years?
We expect IP investment to rise across the ASEAN region, due to greater awareness and with institutions looking to diversify their investments. This is why we will be expanding strategically into new cities throughout Asia, to identify valuable opportunities for licensing intellectual property in new markets and channels of trade, to form new collaborations and joint ventures, and to participate in the IP sharing economy to support improved innovation in activities related to sustainable development goals.
Finally, what advice would you have for someone considering striking out on their own in this way?
I would express it through the following sayings.
First, “smooth seas don’t make good sailors”. As the expression implies, good entrepreneurs need to have a huge amount of perseverance in order to weather the choppy waters – especially during challenging times.
Second, “think outside the box”. Innovative thinking could make the pivotal difference for businesses to survive and thrive, so I would certainly advise this.
Finally, “always deliver value”. Forget your ABC (“always be closing” being a popular sales strategy for young professionals). Instead, I would advocate taking a step back to focus on delivering top value to your existing clients, even if it means closing on fewer future sales.
Jason Loh is an innovator at heart with a mission to drive the growth of companies through the power of intellectual property. He is the founder of Piece Future, an Asian IP investment bank with strategic investments in more than 30 start-ups across Asia. Piece Future serves as a vital key in the IP innovation ecosystem, providing IP-driven business solutions to multinationals and start-ups, uncovering hidden gems in their patent portfolios and generating manifold returns from their investments.