Danish entrepreneurs miss important funding opportunities if they lack a strong IP strategy. That is the key message from Plougmann Vingtoft — one of Scandinavia’s leading consulting firms within Intellectual Property Rights. Firms in the Life Science field operating without IP rights can have an especially hard time going to market, Plougmann Vingtoft says, which is why they should incorporate IP from the beginning, just as biotech pioneer Curasight did.
Curasight is one of the success stories of the Danish Life Sciences field, and much of its success is rooted in its initial focus on IP, which gave it a head start in the fast-growing industry.
Developing an IP strategy was one of the first things on the agenda when CEO and co-owner Ulrich Krasilnikoff and his team began their business journey.
If entrepreneurs develop products without developing a strong IP strategy and ensuring proper patent protection, they create a huge capital risk
Christian L. Christiansen, Partner, Plougmann Vingtoft
They are behind the development of uTRACE®, which is a pioneer product in improving brain and prostate cancer diagnosis. When uTRACE® was just an early-stage idea, Curasight sought ways to protect its IP. Together with consultants at Plougmann Vingtoft, the company created a bulletproof strategy, which helped it attract investors and accrue enough funding to develop its idea further.
“It is both expensive and complex to apply for a patent if you don’t know how. That’s why it is so important to find an IP partner you can trust to do the job,” says Ulrich Krasilnikoff from Curasight. He adds:
“The research development within Life Science is extremely competitive, and the many skilled people in the industry will likely upset your game if you don’t have a strong IP strategy.”
A battle for capital
For most Life Science firms, the need for capital investment starts early in the product-development phase. The fight for capital is tough, and without acquiring your position through patents, design protection or trademarks, you run the major risk of encountering a copycat or another party blocking your IP before you even enter the market.
Among IP consultants such as Plougmann Vingtoft, who are familiar with the Life Science industry, there is no doubt that getting a head start is the name of the game.
As a startup, you need to get familiar with the market analysis before you spend all of your funding on a product that might never go to market
Ulrich Krasilnikoff, CEO, Curasight
“Developing a Life Science product requires substantial investments and a whole lot of time. If entrepreneurs develop products without developing a strong IP strategy and ensuring proper patent protection, they create a huge capital risk. The best way to protect your Life Sciences capital and pave the way for future investments is by protecting your products and securing freedom to operate,” says Christian L. Christiansen, European Patent Attorney and a Partner at Plougmann Vingtoft.
Freedom to operate
In meetings with Danish entrepreneurs, consultants at Plougmann Vingtoft often experience that most new firms acknowledge the importance of protecting ideas and products. However, not all of them are aware that it is just as important to ensure that their product does not infringe on others’ IP rights.
As a starting point for their IP strategy, Plougmann Vingtoft and Curasight made sure that Curasight had so-called “freedom to operate”, meaning that it was able to launch a new product without infringing another party’s IP rights, whether through trademarks, copyright, designs or patents.
“As a startup, you need to get familiar with the market analysis before you spend all of your funding on a product that might never go to market. There is no use in developing a good product if there is no market in which this particular product can live,” Ulrich Krasilnikoff explains.
He emphasises that it can be difficult to navigate the world of intellectual property — which is where the IP consultant comes in.
“Our job as IP consultants is to create space for the entrepreneurs to focus on what they do best. Meanwhile, we turn complex regulations into a strong IP strategy and valuable IP assets that support and develop the business,” says Christian L. Christiansen, who has more than 15 years of experience within Life Science and IPR.
According to Curasight, its IP strategy was a crucial part of raising capital for further development. It sends a strong signal to investors when the start-up has made a conscious decision about their IP rights and are aware of how to defend them. Further, it helps investors to discover which part of the particular product is unique, says Ulrich Krasilnikoff.