There seems to be no shortage of talk today about how organisations need to foster and harness the innovative potential of each and every employee.
Too many of the employees who come up with an idea with commercial promise are still faced with patent procedures too toilsome that they are discouraged from developing their idea further, views Hannes Toivanen, a co-founder and chief executive of Teqmine.
“Your ability to do a patent search has up until now been dependent on you having access to an expert such as a patent engineer,” he explains.
Teqmine is of the opinion that scoping the patent landscape does not have to be that difficult. The Helsinki-based software-as-a-service provider has developed an automated artificial intelligence-assisted tool that allows users to enter a text description of their idea and compares it to over 16 million full-text patents to help to determine its novelty and identify ways to improve it further.
“Our contention is that we’re the world’s only company that has created an artificial intelligence system trained with full-length patents, which can be anything from two to 800 pages long,” tells Toivanen. “Its accuracy is better than any of the solutions developed – or at least commercialised – by others.”
He highlights that the patent similarity tool has been designed to be accessible from anywhere and be as user-friendly as possible.
“We’ve designed it primarily for people who either have never made a single patent search or find making them unpleasant,” he elaborates. “We’re essentially making them smarter.”
Teqmine has provided services to businesses, public agencies and research institutions including the University of Turku, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH) – the first patent office in the world to utilise artificial intelligence to evaluate patent applications.
“Our clients are organisations that strive to develop new technologies,” summarises Toivanen. “Our services are or have been used also by a half-a-dozen Fortune 100 companies.”
The use cases, he says, range from inventors eager to determine if their idea has already been patented and product development managers eager to improve their products further, to investors interested in appraising the value of a particular innovation.
“People are also wondering how to communicate the value of their invention to others and if there are any other people working on the same idea or in the same area,” adds Toivanen.
Data security is naturally an integral aspect of the service, particularly for corporate clients, he acknowledges. Teqmine stores all images and descriptions and conducts all patent searches and analyses on its private servers in order to provide a level of data protection comparable to that in online banking.
“Privacy protection is a major reason for our ability to sell to corporate clients,” he explains.
Toivanen points out that the patent similarity tool presents a number of benefits to organisations by effectively digitising their innovation process: it cultivates organisational creativity by encouraging staff members to innovate and creates time and resource savings by streamlining the innovation process.
“It empowers people to be more inventive and hopefully helps to promote the use of technology to solve different problems,” he states.
“Another benefit,” he adds, “is that it enhances organisations’ understanding of their competitive position, opportunities and risks in real time. Yet another one is that it helps people to understand investor information and understand the value of companies by incorporating technology into stock market information.”
The tool can also assist in the search for business and research partners by identifying organisations developing similar or related technologies.
Predicting future innovations
Teqmine has also begun developing a supplementary system that utilises the wealth of patent data to predict technological trends and the future inventions of technology leaders such as Apple and Nokia
“It should be available less than a year from now,” says Toivanen. “If we get it to work properly, it’ll be quite a groundbreaking system. The current tool is working so well that our expectations are high. I have no reason to doubt our ability to match the accuracy of traditional predictive solutions used, for example, to predict diabetes in patients.”
Toivanen acknowledges that the company has been able to grow and develop its service offering rapidly particularly because it is located in Finland.
“Finland has adopted a very progressive approach to using artificial intelligence and thereby given us a substantial competitive edge. We have an awful lot of demanding, globally well-known technology firms here, which have helped us by being demanding clients,” he explains.