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Chances are, if you manage a life sciences portfolio, you had to rethink your monetization strategy last year.
Licencing, litigation and partnerships have been strong bases for many to maintain cash flow, including one of the most varied IP ecosystems in the LS market — Nantworks.
Mark Kokes, chief intellectual property officer at Nantworks, broke down some key ways he is boosting profits in tough times using his company’s IP portfolio, on LSPN Connect’s Thursday 11 panel.
“The life sciences market undervalues some of its assets. It was fascinating to me when I joined Nantworks that so many intermediate products were so undervalued and underutilised, despite the overall portfolio being valued so highly,” Kokes told Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review editor Tom Phillips in the live interview.
Kokes has a tech background, working with AMD, Texas Instruments, Sony and Blackberry just to name a few. During his stint as senior vice president of intellectual property, licensing and standards at Blackberry, he found his work branching outside of the telecommunication market, crossing over considerably with the life sciences sector.
He joined Nantworks in 2017 where he manages a vast and varied portfolio, including tech, media, communications, bioinformatics and pharmaceutical IP.
Monetising your portfolio
Nantworks companies develop a lot of life science technology and treatments in house, including it’s immunotherapy subsidiary NantKwest’s COVID-19 vaccine. But when it discovers a potential new use case for a project, it is quick to get licensing and partnering to maximise the IP’s potential.
Kokes said: “We have discovered a lot along the way on our R&D projects. In many cases, the technology has a huge number of different applications that we discovered along the way, whether it be for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics etc.
“We also look back through our existing portfolio, see what we have on the shelf and try to repurpose these projects through licensing and partnerships. It is always better to get your work in the hands of customers rather than have it sit on a shelf. Plus you get to make some profit along the way.”
The impact of COVID
Many companies with large IP portfolios were hit hard with the pandemic last year, with 88% of industry professionals claiming that the pandemic had impacted their strategy according to a NovumIP report.
Last year, Kokes turned Nantwork’s attention towards litigation and a defensive IP strategy to help maximise profits in a down market.
“When COVID came, you were either affected dramatically or not affected at all,” Kokes said. “We were definitely affected and had to make some difficult decisions. But throughout 2020 we were constantly looking for ways to remain profitable and rethought our IP strategy completely,” Kokes said.
“We spend a lot of time developing both defensive and offensive IP strategy. In the midst of a pandemic it is hard to get out and do deals with licensing so we focused more on our litigation efforts in order to move our programmes forward.”
Kokes appreciated the importance placed on IP from the Trump administration and remains “cautiously optimistic” that the Biden administration will continue down this path.
“The Obama administration wasn’t too good at addressing IP issues. I don't know if that will be the case with Biden but i'm cautiously optimistic.”
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LSPN Connect, Mark Kokes, Nantworks