Looking for a faster and less expensive way to improve or expand your current product line? Consider licensing in a market-ready incremental IP technology instead of developing it yourself.

Recently a company that produces lighting products for use in emergency response vehicles licensed a white light disinfection technology. It fit their products perfectly, immediately improving them by offering greater value to their emergency response vehicle customers.

Now their products not only provide lighting, they also kill germs on indoor surfaces, creating a safer and healthier work environment for the emergency responders who treat injuries on site. The disinfecting technology is also effective in reducing bacteria on high touch surfaces in medical trauma rooms. Other potential markets include non-emergency commercial vehicles such as the garbage haulers, school buses and fleet vehicles.

What makes this incremental technology even more valuable is that it’s integrated into lightning and doesn’t require any additional equipment, training or experience to use it. It simply replaces the current light and is activated by turning on the light switch. Instead of spending the time and money trying to “invent” new product improvements, licensing in this technology immediately opened up new market opportunities for this company’s lighting products.

Another variation of this strategy is to license in rights to a well-known brand and use it to launch new products. For many innovative small businesses, this is exactly the type of licensing opportunity that can go from zero to millions in revenue, literally in a matter of months.

I’ve seen this first hand licensing entertainment properties, but it can also happen with the right brand and product combination. One of my clients was an Australian toy company that used this strategy to successfully launch their products into the US. I helped them license rights to some popular kids TV show brands. They applied these to their new toy products which accelerated their distribution into all the major US toy retailers. It also saved them significant promotional money because these brands were popular TV shows that kids viewed every day.

When does it make sense to license in IP? Key reasons include reducing R&D costs to develop new products, improve existing technologies, or to get new products to market faster. A 2006 Economist survey of more than 450 industry-leading companies found nearly 75% of the company executives used licensing in as a top strategy for accelerating new product development. Many of the world’s leading innovative companies – including Philips, Siemens, IBM, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, Sony, Monsanto, Eli Lilly, and DuPont – increased profits and accelerated innovation from proactive licensing in campaigns. In 2009 Procter & Gamble announced that it increased its product success rate by 50% and its R&D efficiency by 60% through open innovation licensing.

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You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to improving or developing products or technologies. Licensing in a market-tested and ready to go incremental IP is one of the fastest ways to improve or expand your current product line and reach new customers. It eliminates one of the biggest time consuming and costly risks (R&D), and lets you focus your money and resources on generating more revenues.

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