Innovation Management

Love at first sight – but not always an ever lasting love


When you fall in love you see your partner as a flawless human being and when you start a collaborative project it is the same thing. We love our project partners and we believe that the collaborative, friendly spirit will always be there. To tell you the truth, you will not always be head over heels in love, but it is possible to make sure you will have a fortunate future together.  

IMCG’s Ulrika Wahlström works as innovation project manager and handles areas like IPR (Intellectual Property Rights), exploitation and innovation management in several large European collaborative innovation projects. It’s all about seeing to that partners understand who can claim the IPR of the product or service that is being developed in the project. Every now and then IMCG is contacted by organisations that are about to start working in collaboration with other actors and they have lots of questions regarding ownership rights.

Avoid conflicts on ownership – sign agreements
Are you working in an innovative collaborative project? Sign agreements to clarify who owns the right to commercialize the result. The other day, Ulrika was contacted by an organisation that is just about to start working in a collaborative innovation project with many different partners. All of the involved organisations are really keen on getting started working together and very friendly towards one another.  Now they want to develop new solutions! It’s an euphoric feeling! In spite of this good initial feeling, the company contacting IMCG wondered if there might be things to consider before project start. A very good question! And the answer is YES! There are quite a few things to think about, here is one example.

Ulrika often compares collaborative projects to love and marriage. It all starts with that you feel deeply in love. There are no thoughts on a future that would be nothing but fantastic, full of joy and affinity. But there will come a time when you are no longer head over heels. You will look at each other with different eyes and it can become a bit fretful. There could arise arguments and you might end up breaking up, totally disagreeing on who has the right to claim all the things that you brought into the mutual household.

Relating this to collaborative projects; in the beginning of a project everybody wants to collaborate in order to together develop better solutions, products and services. Everybody shows a positive attitude and are easy to cooperate with. When results are starting to show, the own organisation wants to get return on investment. Everybody wants a bite of the cake. Without agreements it is very difficult to prove which partner that has the right to make profit of the cake – a cake that has been baked by several different partners that all contributed to the result with their special ingredients. That’s when the project’s foundation starts rocking. It will be a complicated process to commercialize the result with unclear ownership.

– If you want to be sure of being able to commercialize a future product or service, you should sign agreements. No matter how nice and friendly all partners are in your project, says Ulrika.

One project where ownership rights has a high priority on  the agenda is United-Grid. Here, Ulrika coaches all partners to work with intellectual assets’ management and to identify ownership rights to all that is being developed in the project. This is done in order to enhance the possibility for future commercialization of project results.