The role of idea protection in combating climate change and promoting the growth of enterprises and start-ups

Intellectual property is a crucial concept in the world of innovation, technology and the future of environmental sustainability.

Filippo Silipigni, a mechanical engineer and expert in methods and tools for systematic innovation at the Milan Polytechnic Foundation, as well as Musa’s internal project manager for Spoke 3, gives us an in-depth view of how this concept can be a key element in business development and the dissemination of technologies for combating climate change and promoting sustainability.

‘Intellectual property,’ Silipigni explains, ‘is that set of legal rights to protect the creative acts of inventors and businesses. These rights grant the owner a commercial monopoly for the production, sale and exploitation of their innovations, in the territory where the right is granted and for the period of validity’.

How does this relate to sustainability? “It is very clear that the challenge to climate change is global and requires a collective commitment on the part of all countries and all companies,” he says. “The legal framework of intellectual property is recognised and adopted by almost all countries in the world, it sets the conditions to facilitate the regulated dissemination of new technologies to combat climate change and at the same time ensure the recognition of the ownership of their creators and guarantee a return on the investments made in the creation of these innovations.”

Intellectual Property is also important for researchers, future entrepreneurs and start-ups. The positive correlation between business creation and intellectual property is widely documented and a joint study by the European Patent Office-EPO and the European Union Intellectual Property Office shows that seed-stage start-ups in possession of a European patent and trademark are 10 times more likely to secure funding from investors.

Silipigni is also involved in the IP4Growth project – Intellectual Property Program for collaborative and innovative SMEs, which aims to promote and raise awareness of the strategic value of intellectual property among Italian SMEs. “Our goal,” he explains, “is to spread the culture of intellectual property among entrepreneurs and business owners, highlighting the benefits obtained, to stimulate growth and ensure the innovation capacity of Italian companies.”

IP4Growth is an initiative realised by the Fondazione Politecnico di Milano, funded by the European Union Intellectual Property Office-EUIPO and promoted by the Italian Patent and Trademark Office – UIBM, the Chamber of Commerce of Milan, Monza Brianza and Lodi – Intellectual Property Office, Assolombarda and InnovUp – Italian Innovation & Startup Ecosystem . In the spirit of the innovation and technology transfer initiatives and projects carried out by the Foundation, IP4Growth aims at conveying the importance of Intellectual Property as a factor to foster the birth and development of participatory projects in an open innovation perspective, ensuring the recognition of the ownership of the results resulting from the collaboration between different companies, research bodies and all the actors involved. IP4Growth is articulated in a cycle of online workshops and in-presence events in Milan, which aspires to put entrepreneurs and their experience with intellectual property at the centre of the discussion to support the growth of their businesses.

As part of the project, a meeting was held on 25 June on the European Patent with Unitary Effect, a new system of protection in force as of 1 June 2023. The Patent with Unitary Effect allows for a European patent with immediate validity in the 17 European states party to the convention, facilitating administrative management, providing a single competent forum for the defence and legal enforcement of the title (Unified Patent Court) and, above all, significantly reducing fees for companies. “One year after its launch,” says Silipigni, “we wanted to take stock of the situation with experts from the intellectual property consultancy PRAXI IP, recalling how the Unified Patent Effect works and highlighting the challenges and opportunities introduced for companies. This system greatly simplifies life for companies and provides further incentives for innovation, and it is no coincidence that this year it has been highly appreciated by small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups, which account for 35 per cent of applicants.”

Next Wednesday 10 July in Milan, the IP4Growth Project return meeting entitled “How to enhance Innovative Enterprises? Tools, Measures and Approaches for the Success of Start-ups and SMEs’ and will be held in presence, from 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m., at the Milan Monza Brianza Lodi Chamber of Commerce premises, via Meravigli 9B. The meeting will aim to highlight the synergies between the various players in the innovation ecosystem, to discuss the path of knowledge transfer from Universities and Research Institutions to enterprises and start-ups, leveraging measures and funding calls, and passing through incubators and accelerators for the creation of new entrepreneurship.

“Intellectual property is not just a matter of rights and legal protection, but a key factor in addressing current and future challenges, from digital to ecological transition. Thanks to projects such as IP4Growth and new instruments such as the European patent with unitary effect, companies can innovate, grow and disseminate innovations and technologies for sustainability in a protected way.”

“Sustainability is a global challenge that we can only overcome by working together. Intellectual property creates the ideal conditions to spread the necessary technologies worldwide, while protecting the rights of innovators,’ Silipigni concludes.