“The fundamental basis of this knowledge-economy era is public, equal, fact-oriented and non-hierarchic Internet thinking. When you create a product that encompasses this, you create a product that is more user-friendly. Micro-creation (proposed by the CEO of 360, Mr Zhou Hongyi) aims to find the actual needs of customers. No matter how complicated the technology is, the value of the product is the key element that needs to be evaluated. Customized enterprises need every single micro-creation for the chance to subvert the whole market.” —Jeffrey Tiong, CEO of PatSnap
Oriental rising power
PatSnap originated in Singapore in 2007, and has since grown to become a global company with offices throughout Asia, Europe and America. PatSnap was already well-known in the market before setting up the Research and Development Centre in China. Their clients include numerous Singaporean authoritative institutions, such as the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), which is the largest scientific research institution in Singapore. More than 3,000 of the A*STAR researchers are currently using the PatSnap platform. Mr. Jeffery Tiong, a Chinese Singaporean, set up the company in 2007 and PatSnap has developed significantly in recent years, following the appointment of current business development director, Ms. Guan Dian.
The number of patent-related companies starting up has increased of late; the industry is becoming increasingly competitive, partly due to the fact that it is being targeted by both domestic and overseas investment institutions. However, Jeffrey and Guan Dian are feeling positive about this trend, “The target of investment institutions is the weather-vane of the market — this indicates that the patent market is developing well. We realize that this market is growing and embrace that, even if there is some competition pressure.” Jeffrey said.
Well-developed international platform
The majority of PatSnap’s revenue comes from the international market, and Jeffrey states that between 60-70% of their main income is from Europe and America. They work with many celebrated institutions such as the MIT, University of California System, Oxford University, IBM, Vodafone and Logitech, for instance. “Compared to domestic companies, PatSnap has a broader international market,” Guan Dian states. “Working with overseas customers gives us invaluable insight into the structure and cutting-edge information of the international market. For example, we learnt a lot about the university intellectual property technology transfer sector when cooperating with Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM).”
The Bayh-Dole Act was issued by the American government, and is devoted to promoting technology transfer from universities and colleges to private enterprise and/or the government. All of the inventions can be applied to the industrial process, thus people who contribute to the process reap the benefits of technology transfer. The association was founded in 1974 by the Society of University Patent Administrators, in order to encourage the adoption of research for public use. Today, there are nearly 400 AUTM members; half of which are PatSnap clients.
AUTM has developed into a mature system after decades of work, and now China is going in this direction too. The early “Ten Policies for Beijing High Education Institutions” is a policy in which the Chinese government encourages university technology transfer. Many industryinsiders are looking to make highquality technologies and patents that are transferable and valuable, because at present few technologies can be transferred in China. “Ten Policies for Beijing High Education Institutions” indicates the future trend of universities’ R&D achievements. The management, search and analysis of patents is a crucial part of technology transfer, and at PatSnap we can provide a successful experience to anyone that needs our service,” said Guan Dian, with full confidence.
Emerging market in China
However, their reputation wasn’t much help when PatSnap first went to China, as it is still a very new and developing market. “I love a challenge,” Guan Dian explains. “When I was living in other countries, the opportunities available are the hot topic for discussion and I always wanted to come back to China and give it a shot. I joined PatSnap because I decided it was time to challenge myself in this emerging market.”
“Sometimes people see PatSnap as having many foreign resources but few domestic human resources, which are often considered to be superior. We are a foreign company but we also provide the best localized service. Our research and development team are based in Suzhou,” Jeffrey said. “Compared to the overseas markets, the market in China is in a state of rapid development. A crucial factor that added to the success of PatSnap in China and enabled us to win customers – aside from the unremitting efforts of the PatSnap team – is the support of the government and other related institutions. In particular, encouragement from the China- Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park and our shareholders, the National University of Singapore (NUS), as well as NUS (Suzhou) Research Institute, have been indispensable.”
PatSnap’s unique humanization
More often than not, a company’s culture is influenced by its owner, and PatSnap is no exception here. Jeffrey is a typical iFan; he collects almost all of the Apple products. The design of the first white Apple laptop was clean and elegant; its function may be similar to other laptops available, but the user experience was uniquely Apple. For Jeffrey, the whole process of walking into an Apple store, seeing the device and starting it up, was innately enjoyable. PatSnap needed to be just as user-friendly, detail-oriented and enjoyable, so that customers have the same sort of experience that Jeffrey does with Apple.
“Our design is as clean, concise and customisable as possible. We have a dedicated support team who reply to client’s queries within 12 hours. Although we may not always be able to resolve the problems during this time, clients can see that we value all feedback and want to provide the best possible experience.” “At the initial product development stage, I join in the discussion with our product managers, but most importantly, the product will be perfected once we get feedback from our clients. We have been known to abandon entire design and development ideas, depending upon our client’s needs. Working blindly is not an option in PatSnap.”
When talking about PatSnap’s team building, Jeffery is proud to share his experiences, “The essence of PatSnap is the attention to, and development of, talent. We focus not only on our client’s needs, but also team spirit. Learning how to build an excellent team was the most challenging part for me, but I am very confident in our group and it’s my honor to work with outstanding colleagues from celebrated companies. All of them are extraordinary in their expertise. Every member of my team is doing what they enjoy, and I believe that is the right way for them to develop themselves. My primary job is to provide them with a comfortable working environment and give them the opportunity to realize their dreams. That is the humanized culture of PatSnap.”