Syngenta AG on patent pools and prizes

On July 14, 2009, at the WIPO Conference on Intellectual Property and Public Policy Issues, Michael Kock (Global Head IP Seeds and Biotechnology at Syngenta International AG) underscored that today’s global challenges can only dealt with in an efficient manner by creating innovation networks which included the reward of substantial amounts of money to solve technical challenges and problems.

Syngenta International AG, one of the largest agri-businesses in the world. According to its corporate website, Syngenta was created in November 2000 when “Novartis and AstraZeneca merged their agribusinesses to form Syngenta, the first global group focusing exclusively on agribusiness.”

In a panel entitled Patents and Strategies for Food Security, Dr. Kock described patent pools, collaborative innovation networks and prizes as better ways of harnessing and leveraging innovation. In describing Syngenta’s work on prizes, he mentioned Syngenta’s collaboration with Innocentive.

Here are some relevant extracts from his speech which your blogger has endeavoured to reproduce from an audio file.

“Let me look a little bit into the future and how we can make best use of the IP system as it exists today.

We heard today the talk about patent pools, in the seed area in some areas that might be an adequate solution especially when we are talking about enabling technologies.

But also, modern systems, how to leverage, how to harness innovation in a better way are required, However, all these systems really need to be underpinned by solid IP protection systems.

Like for instance, innovation networks. People say that most of the smart people do not work in your own company. The research pool outside of the company is vast. And I believe that the challenges of today we can only really cope in an efficient way if you build innovation networks.

So, we are trying with it some of the providers like, for instance, Innocentive, by using, building networks with innovators all over the world. How does that work?

Well, we post a challenge, a question, a problem on the internet, it’s open participation, Everybody can tap into that, and provide solutions. Solutions are selected and rewarded and quite sizable amounts of money are paid then to the inventors. We see a lot of the inventors coming from countries like India for instance, or China, or even from Africa, South America, all over the world. In many cases we have follow up cooperation with these people, so it does not stop with the solution of the problem but goes further into the future.”