Valorisation pays!

january 29, 2018

Bright people, bright ideas! All well and good, but you can’t eat great ideas. This is why Brightlands has its own valorisation team that helps scientists create value using good ideas. Brightlands Chief Valorisation Officer Henri Theunissen tells us why and how they do this.

“Have you ever thought about other things you could do with your knowledge and research? We use this question to challenge scientists. Getting published in a scientific magazine doesn’t have to be your only goal, as valuable as it is. So much more is possible if you want to create value using knowledge. We make researchers aware of all of these possibilities. We also help create crossovers between the various campuses so that the knowledge available within the various Brightlands facilities is being optimally utilized.”

“We understand both worlds”

The work Henri and his team are doing consists primarily of creating connections, but also talking to scientists, companies, financiers and investors. Henri: “We build a bridge between science and business. We understand both worlds, and we speak their language. What makes our team so unique is that many of us have PhDs and commercial experience. For scientists, it is important for us to understand what they’re working on, ask the right questions and actually help them move forward. We coach them, and help them take the right steps in this valorisation process. After all, value creation isn’t their core business, particularly if they are doing fundamental research.”

No more getting the runaround

The business developers on Henri’s team are also a real godsend for potential partners, companies and investors. Henri: “Knowledge institutes are set up very differently from companies. For an outsider, it is often hard to find out who the decision-makers are, who exactly it is they need to contact. We help them avoid getting the runaround. If they manage to schedule a meeting, we coach the scientists in advance. Passionate researchers often want to elaborate in detail about their work. We help them to maintain the right focus so that the person they’re speaking to will get the information they need.”

“We know the price of knowledge”

There are different ways to valorise knowledge, or to give it value. Henri: “Many scientists have no idea what their knowledge is worth. We know the price of this knowledge, and are able to advise scientists in this regard. Good ideas and knowledge have a value, so this is why you have to protect them. After all, no one wants others to make off with their ideas; patents are a good way to protect these ideas. Over the past year, we have submitted ten new patent applications. Once you have a patent, you can allow others to use your knowledge in exchange for payment. You make a licensing deal. Five of these licensing deals were made at Brightlands in 2017. Another option is for a scientist to establish a start-up, a company that develops a concrete product based on an innovative idea or new know-how. We also coach people throughout this entire process, from research to applied research and finally to a market-ready product. In 2017, we founded six new start-ups from the knowledge institutes. So much is possible these days. There are currently over 100 valorisation projects in the pipeline.”

“The money earned flows back to research”

The Brightlands business developers support scientists from Maastricht University, Maastricht UMC+ and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences. Henri: “We work across the entire Brightlands organization. This means that we have specialists in different professional fields at our disposal. A specific expertise is available for each campus. We also have legal, fiscal and financial experts on our team and we work closely with the research offices of the knowledge institutes themselves.” Henri believes that valorisation pays. The money earned from licenses and start-ups flows back to research. One-third goes to the researcher, one-third goes to the research department, and the rest is for the university. Henri: “Everyone profits from it actually, including society in general. When we valorise knowledge, this ultimately leads to jobs and work, at every level, and the entire region benefits from this.”

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Henri Theunissen, Chief Valorisation Officer: “We understand both the science and business worlds, and we speak their language. This is what makes the valorisation team so unique”