There are also times where an idea merits thoughtful exploration and add-on innovation. This is best done through structured work originally championed by the prolific IBM inventor John Cronin. He and his team developed a “Virtualized Innovation” process that delivers market-relevant, forward innovation concepts in a far shorter timeframe compared to traditional R&D and product development cycles. This process has since been adopted by others, notably Vincent & Associates and Jim O’Shaughnessy. The goal is to take a cross-functional team of experts through a brainstorming process, followed by a selection process (based on what is new, feasible and of value to the industry). This is shown in the “Overview of an Innovation Workshop” figure.
Utilizing such an innovation workshop creates many patentable ideas that can be used to stake out a patent position in an unfolding market. This process allows patents to be systematically created. In doing so the strategic character of a patent portfolio can be increased compared to the original idea or opportunity statement. As the IP portfolio value is increased so is the ability to obtain increased funding for the project or entities involved. A note of caution is that appropriate orientation of the patent counsel involved is necessary. This is because this process borders on the creation of paper patents. Thus to avoid problems, competent technical, marketing and legal counsel have to be employed. The benefit however is that many the patents that are granted as result of such a process move through the patent office much faster than normal and thus stakeout positions in new business areas ahead of competition.