Your R&D team has a lot of good ideas, the result of a commitment to idea generation and a culture of innovation. But many good ideas won’t move through the innovation lifecycle. And even more good ideas—even some with the potential to make an impact for your company—won’t become patents.
Idea generation and assessment complement one another. Yet, with so many factors contributing to which concepts you prioritize and what technologies move your business forward, idea evaluation can seem almost impossible.
4 Factors Contributing to Idea Evaluation
Your idea evaluation process should create efficiencies throughout the innovation lifecycle, allowing you to bring both incremental and disruptive innovations to market. Assessment is not black and white, immediately passing or failing a concept; what comes next will be different for each idea worthy of being evaluated. Some technologies are ready to be protected and/or monetized. In some cases, an idea is not ready yet and would benefit from further iterations, perhaps with additional funding. Other ideas are considered risky and require additional approval and support from decision makers.
How you approach the next steps in the innovation process depends on what your evaluation process reveals about how feasible, strategic, valuable, and novel an idea really is.
Feasibility is different for every organization, especially when the cost of R&D is a limiting factor. Before moving on, be honest about whether or not developing this idea is realistic for your team.
Good ideas are not necessarily good for your company. Does this technology fit within your existing IP portfolio? Or, if not, does it support business goals for entering new markets and other growth initiatives? Whether an idea is an incremental improvement or a disruptive innovation, it should reflect current or future business strategy.
Of course, there are many ways an idea can be put to good use by a business. Licensing and selling technologies are part of many organizations’ IP strategies. This may impact what kinds of ideas are considered strategic for your company.
At this point, it’s also valuable to consider how much risk an idea will place on your business. Some entities are comfortable with investing many resources into an idea it considers worth the potential ROI. Others would rather minimize big bets, limiting financial, legal, and commercial risks.
Novel ideas with commercial applications are incredibly valuable to the people and businesses that utilize them strategically. When evaluating ideas for prioritization, consider how this particular technology may deliver ROI, and how much of an investment bringing the innovation to market will require.
You may also need to consider how soon this idea may begin to contribute to business success, especially if you’re part of a startup or small business. This timeline varies greatly from industry to industry; bringing a new vaccine to market can take 10 to 15 years while a new consumer product may only require a fraction of that time.
Novelty is required for patentability. It means that your idea is unlike any other published concept and can be protected by a patent, granting you the exclusive right to use the idea for up to 20 years. Novel ideas that are feasible and strategic are also incredibly valuable to your business. These technologies will likely be top priority as they move through the innovation lifecycle, formally protected with a patent or defensive publication and brought to market as quickly as possible.
The Patent Vitality Report (PVR), which analyzes the overall strength and quality of a patent, shows a high monetization potential for a protected technology.
Not all good ideas are novel. While an idea must be new to be granted a patent, novelty is not necessarily required for freedom to operate (which is different than patentability). If no one else has patented the concept, even if they have used it or even defensively published it, you can still use the concept, perhaps even monetizing it. Depending on your business, it may still be a good idea, even if it’s not a novel idea.
The Technology Vitality Report (TVR), which uses our AI engine to assess ideas, evaluates a technology derived from the patent in the above PVR. As a derivative technology, the idea does not have a high novelty score.
Assessing Ideas with AI
Determining feasibility and strategic alignment require input from people with knowledge of a business’s assets and goals. These decisions can be augmented with AI, which can clearly illustrate where competitors are innovating with visualizations built from patent and non-patent literature. Leaning on the efficiencies and strengths of AI where possible also eliminates some biases present in human idea evaluation.
Evaluating novelty, however, always requires patent searching. Completing this process manually is time consuming and labor intensive. IP.com’s AI engine, trained specifically on patent data, can quickly find relevant documents and evaluate whether or not your idea is semantically similar to existing technology. This process results in an invention novelty score, part of the TVR and IQ Ideas+™ Evaluate a New Idea module, helping R&D teams confidently decide which ideas to prioritize and push through the innovation pipeline.