The path of an innovator does not end with the creation of a new invention. In fact, the invention may be just the beginning. Taking an invention to market, so it can reach the people or industries it has been designed for, requires entrepreneurship.
An entrepreneur is someone who is willing to take on financial risks in order to set up a business and prepare it to grow and thrive in sustainable ways. Understanding the value and purpose of intellectual property (IP) equips an entrepreneur to safely and successfully accomplish their goals as they protect, pitch and bring an invention to market.
What is the role of IP in entrepreneurship?
If you are an inventor, your primary focus is on turning ideas into reality. But to take on the business side of invention, you must also think like an entrepreneur and develop an understanding of IP.
Successful entrepreneurs know that IP is a valuable asset for any business, generating revenue and supporting these essential goals:
Ensuring that your product or service can stand out among competitors is essential to your success. Your IP makes differentiation possible, guaranteeing that no one else can copy or capitalize on what you’ve created.
A portfolio or collection of IP assets gives you a foundation from which to not only grow your business, but to expand it as well. This means entering additional markets, changing the scope of your business in efforts to bring in additional revenue. Your IP assets can help you maintain a competitive advantage in new markets.
Scalability refers to your ability to manage your business as it grows and expands. Your goal is to add more sources of revenue without overwhelming your resources or substantially increasing your costs — and licensing your IP can help. When you leverage your IP through licensing agreements, allowing other companies to use or apply it in their products, markets or industries, you can collect royalties from them, increasing your revenue without affecting your resources.
Why should IP and entrepreneurship skills be taught to young students?
Though IP literacy is critical for innovators, creators and entrepreneurs, it is not often included in STEM education. While a STEM program may encourage inventiveness and creative problem solving, without introducing students to IP and entrepreneurship, such a program offers an incomplete experience.
Providing even the youngest students with an understanding of IP and entrepreneurial skills gives them the tools they need to become more confident creators, and prepares them for a future in which STEM and innovation are becoming increasingly important. For an in-depth look at the value of IP in education, we encourage you to download our free white paper, Why Intellectual Property is Essential to STEM Education.
To address the IP gap in STEM education, NIHF’s education programs are designed to lead children down the path from curious to capable, providing them with hands-on experiences with invention, design thinking, IP and entrepreneurship. Learn more about our education programs, including the nationally acclaimed Camp Invention® program and our professional development opportunities, at invent.org.
If you want to learn more about the value of IP, from copyrights and trademarks to patents and trade secrets, we encourage you to explore the rest of NIHF’s “Guide to Intellectual Property” blog series.