Maximizing Intellectual Property Value: Embracing Monetization

Published: February 20, 2024

Many organizations that are strong generators of novel intellectual property often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to realizing tangible value from their creations. It is common to hear these IP generators, which include research organizations, universities, federal labs, and SBIR/STTR recipients, bemoan the challenges of “commercialization” or the pressure to “transition” their technologies.

While there are myriad reasons for these challenges—ranging from skill mismatches to organizational cultures and the inherent complexity of the task—the purpose of this blog is to suggest that a paradigm shift might also be beneficial.

Through our extensive interactions with IP generators, a recurring pattern emerges: a perception of the world as a series of distinct, mutually exclusive choices regarding the fate of their technologies. Yet, the reality is nuanced; these options form a continuum, presenting a spectrum of strategic pathways.

At the heart of this paradigm shift lies the distinction between “commercialization” and “monetization.” While commercialization and tech transition often evoke daunting expectations of market penetration and productization, monetization offers a more flexible and accessible avenue to extract value from technology. Unlike the linear trajectory of commercialization, monetization embraces a multifaceted approach, facilitating incremental value realization.

If your goal is to realize value from your technology, take it where you can get it—or as I am fond of saying, “Go where the love is.” Whether that is getting a first customer to pay for a pilot, exploring a joint venture, launching a startup, or running a process to identify licensees or acquirers for a technology, don’t be welded to any particular path, and don’t assume what any approach might look like. Embracing a fluid approach enables organizations to navigate the intricate landscape of intellectual property management with agility and resilience.

As Mike Tyson famously said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. The journey of creating value from your IP will surely get you punched in the mouth at least once – embracing a monetization perspective helps keep you flexible to rolling with that punch and still realizing the upside your hard work has created.

Ultimately, the journey from innovation to value creation is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. By understanding the difference between commercialization and monetization, IP generators can chart a course that aligns with their goals and aspirations, unlocking the full potential of their intellectual property.