Innovation a Risk Worth Taking
STORY INLINE POST
Q: What role does Mextrategy aim to play in Mexico’s R&D efforts?
A: Our goal is to enable companies to see intellectual property (IP) as a tool for growth and as a keystone of their business strategy. We also collaborate with universities and research centers to provide them with the tools they need to protect and deploy their developments, helping them to focus on the market and to obtain investment. Technology transfer activities ensure that the knowledge generated can reach the market and meet a social or business need.
Q: What is Mextrategy’s added value beyond protecting IP?
A: Many firms in Mexico process IP prosecution, helping businesses to obtain trademarks, patents or copyrights. However, there is a gap in their internal administration, as organizations often lack specific executives accountable for determining which IP rights need or need not be protected and how to leverage IP to improve their performance. Mextrategy offers this strategic approach to help companies innovate.
Q: How informed on IP are Mexican companies in the health sector?
A: The healthcare industry is well aware of the importance of IP protection but there is misinformation and a lot of noise regarding how the system really works, especially for those who are entering the industry for the first time. The media often distorts particularly the real effects of patents. Because of this, there is a great need for more specialized information to understand how the system works and how to enter the market. Accompanying a regulatory strategy with IP protection allows companies to recover the investment they made in developing their product and introducing it to the market and also understand how to identify real IP risks when there are patents expired.
Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic transform the perspective on IP protection?
A: IP protects the knowledge that is being generated in any industry. The pandemic was an opportunity for IP protection and innovation, showing that IP is not a barrier but a tool to generate knowledge and bring it to the market faster by collaborating.
The knowledge generated during this period showed that IP protection was not a barrier to making vaccines available in record time and at manageable prices. However, this period led to a knowledge boom that led to the filing of many patents and some conflicts are arising or are yet to come.
Q: Compared to other Latin American markets, how active are Mexican companies in patent registration?
A: Leaving Brazil aside, Mexico has more activity compared to other Latin American countries but has not reached its full potential, as local companies are not engaged in generating new developments. Mexico has many pharmaceutical companies with the capacity to generate combinations of generic active drug ingredients and generate new intellectual property around it. However, companies rarely access IP protection tools to leverage those advantages and generate more resources. If companies did this, they would be able to generate innovation with a greater impact but there is a long way to go before companies see innovation as an alternative for growth. Innovation involves risks and many projects fail. The country needs to overcome its risk aversion to having more innovative companies.
Q: What role should the government play to increase innovation in the country?
A: The government has a responsibility to introduce incentives that promote innovation. The existing tax incentives, for instance, are insufficient, complex and become more restrictive as more innovation occurs. Simpler tax incentives are necessary. There was a time when the collaboration of companies was greatly supported but that support ended with the current administration under corruption arguments. However, the COVID-19 vaccine that is being developed in Mexico is a sign that the current government does support projects with private entities however complex it might seem. Companies need to take risks and government capital investment at risk can help them mitigate those risks. The government plays an essential role because it allows the generation of more projects.
Q: How should regulation evolve so companies can introduce their innovations faster to the market?
A: The pharmaceutical market is highly regulated for good reasons. In this context, Mexico’s regulatory process, including legislation and standards, is designed to adopt technology from abroad. Regulations are not designed to evaluate products developed in Mexico.
New research laboratories regulation is opaque and forces authorities to make decisions that they are not used to making. Public policies are necessary to increase the number of competent and authorized laboratories in the country for first-in-human new drug development. Additionally, laboratories need to be able to communicate openly and directly with regulatory authorities, just as US pharmaceutical companies communicate with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the latter case, the company that proposes a new drug has face-to-face meetings with the authorities where an exchange of recommendations and arguments takes place. If these changes do not happen, universities will remain isolated and companies will not want to invest under such opaque regulations.
Q: How can academia better support innovation in the pharmaceutical industry in Mexico?
A: Universities need to have an area that specializes in communicating with the industry because researchers often have a completely different perspective than companies. For this reason, universities need someone who knows about IP and the risks involved in investing. Universities need a technology transfer office to ensure that the university's IP is being protected. Researchers need to redirect their efforts to projects that can really solve the problems of the industry.
Q: What will your priorities be for 2023?
A: We will seek to raise awareness in the market about the importance of managing intangible assets and monetizing them. We are also working on the valuation of trademarks and patents and other intangible assets of companies. We will continue to promote innovation and technology transfer projects and will support those with potential.
Mextrategy is a consultancy that offers tools to innovate by protecting, documenting and monetizing the knowledge generated by companies.