As an IP strategist in Asia, what is your opinion on how the business landscape there has evolved over the years with respect to IP appreciation and adoption?
In my two decades of working with both large and small Asian organisations in shaping their IP and innovation strategies, I must say that the appreciation and adoption of intellectual property have generally improved over the years. However, although it is encouraging to see the pool of progressive IP champions growing steadily, there is still much work to be done to steer organisations towards fusing IP strategy effectively with other organisational strategies to drive value. The complexity of the task is further enhanced by the diverse business environments in Asia. As such, IP strategists with deep understanding of the Asian context continue to play an important role as changemakers here.
If you could make one change to the IP deals market in Singapore, what would it be and do you think that it is likely to happen?
As the saying goes, “it takes an entire village to raise a child”. Similarly, it will take an effective and coherent IP ecosystem here in Singapore to make IP deals even more successful. Innovators will need to take effort to understand the realistic value and true potential of their IP assets, while traditional buyers/funders will need to embrace IP assets and accord the right value to them. I believe that as stakeholders (ie, innovators, businesses, service providers, funders and regulators) start to work in tandem and become more IP-proficient, a robust IP deals market in Singapore is not a faraway dream but a nearer reality.
What has been the highlight of your professional career so far and why?
The highlight of my professional career so far is the opportunity to make an impact in the IP space not just in Singapore, but regionally as well. It is with utmost satisfaction that I am able to help my clients in various countries export their innovative IP assets successfully through made-to-measure commercialisation strategies, as well as to mentor some of the budding IP strategists in the region aspiring to do the same. In this light, I am honoured to have been the first in Singapore’s IP sector to have been presented with the SkillsFuture Fellowships Award in 2019. Presented by the president of the Republic of Singapore, the award honours individuals as masters of skill and mentors of future talent.
Can you tell us about your work for IPOS International, where you serve as board director?
It is a privilege to serve on the board of IPOS International – the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore’s expertise and engagement arm. At IPOS International, I play a strategic role in providing board-level inputs to various forward-centric work streams of the SIPS 2030 plan. I am also a member of the audit committee, where (together with my other audit committee members) I provide oversight to the internal audit function of the organisation.
What are some of the key skills necessary for someone working in the IP strategy space?
In my opinion, an effective IP strategist should possess skills in three key areas:
- legal – a broad but accurate understanding of IP law and how it can be leveraged in various situations;
- technology – in today’s tech-driven world, an appreciation of the technology-market fit and the ability to work with relevant technical experts to harness the potential of technology-centric IP assets; and
- business – an ability to contextualise and apply IP knowledge in the course of business to realise the value of IP assets.
Group Managing Partner
As an innovation and intellectual property consultant, Winston Chan has been actively involved in franchising, technology transfer, strategic investment, branding, innovation and IP management projects internationally for two decades. He is also a board member of IPOS International – the expertise and engagement arm of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore. Mr Chan graduated as the top student from Singapore Management University’s Master of Science in Innovation in 2017 and lectures part-time at leading Singapore universities.