Can you tell us about some of the most significant challenges you faced founding Cyclo Hygieia, Inc – and how you overcame these?
The most important issue for us is determining how to lead a successful business through the power of technology and intellectual property. For that reason, it is vital to ensure that more executives understand the importance of intellectual property as an operating resource, to maximise the IP values of the business and to reform old-fashioned IP industry views. In order to make these things possible, defining our mission, vision and value was the most significant challenge when founding Cyclo Hygieia.
You have worked with cutting-edge companies across an array of industries. How do you stay ahead of the curve in such a dynamic market?
To survive changes in the business environment and maintain sustainable growth while always anticipating possible future developments, business owners must understand “as is” (ie, their current positioning) but also shape themselves “to be” in the long term, drawing up strategies that should be implemented from now on to achieve this. In other words, it is not enough to prepare for the future as it occurs naturally, we must build our ideal future ourselves. For this purpose, big picture, value design and backcasting approaches, which pinpoint your company or business in a self-designed future society according to a temporal axis and social relations, are essential.
How have client demands changed over the course of your career, and how has your practice adapted to this?
Until recently, client needs focused on strategy building for R&D or the IP division and visualising contributions to the management and monetisation of intellectual property. However, in recent years, growing trends have been to expand main businesses by utilising intellectual property or to co-create new businesses. That is to say, direct monetisation through intellectual property has been shifting towards the use of intellectual property in business operations. This is a way of thinking that we have emphasised and suggests that the value of new services such as IP landscaping have been penetrating the market, rather than that service providers are adapting to client demands. Moreover, not only have new business models and technologies been developed through IP information strategies, there has also been a rise in the importance of content (including design and branding), high-value experience services rather than product manufacturing, and the creation and practice of complex IP strategy (including the utilisation of data) and the establishment of compatibility between the creation of a business ecosystem and open innovation through open and closed strategies (including contracts). These are all recent trends increasingly raised by our clients.
What metrics do you use to measure the success of an IP strategy?
It is important to evaluate the rights created as a result of IP activities and the IP strategies that support these, but I think that the concept of success is closely related to the evaluation of past performance. The definition of success varies depending on mindset, and in an age of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, success based on consequence has no great significance. So, if indicators are to be adopted, it is important to assess how much IP strategy and IP information are taken into account when considering the construction of management and business strategies, and how much interactive communication is exhausted before executive management decisions are made. It is also necessary to clarify the position of intellectual property in – and its contribution to – the company's business, not as an indicator of IP perspective, but as an indicator of management and business perspective.
As more and more industries are affected by technological convergence, what considerations should patent owners – in Japan and elsewhere around the world – bear in mind when assessing their existing IP strategies?
A short-sighted manager may aim for growth only during their term on the board, while many business units may be working to increase revenue and profit in only the current fiscal year compared to the previous year. Yet, R&D and IP activities are vital for future business. IP owners should act with a medium-to-long-term perspective, considering IP strategy as a necessary investment strategy to refine their core competencies.
Makoto Kobayashi is a founder, president and CEO of Cyclo Hygieia. Before founding Cyclo Hygieia in 2019, he ran the IP advisory group at Deloitte. He graduated with an MA from Waseda University and an MS from the University of Tokyo. Mr Kobayashi has broad experience in the manufacturing, Internet of Things and life sciences industries. He conducts management and business strategy consulting based on the IP landscape, M&A financial advisory, IP strategy and management consulting, and technology-driven new business development support.