Start-Up’s and Intangible Assets: Does Their Management and Stewardship Speed Up Innovation?

Michael D. Moberly   February 19, 2010

Intuitively, the speed which a start-up company can actually deliver its innovation is a critical factor to it’s sustainability and attractivity for (continued, future) investment.   The question presented here is, can consistent stewardship, oversight, and management of the ancillary-complimentary intangible assets the start-ups’ innovation produces make the process even more speedy?  

A quick, but obviously biased, answer by a person who writes a ‘business IP and intangible asset blog’ is an unequivocal yes!

More convincingly though, in a still relevant study produced by Ans Heirman and Bart Clarysse formerly of Ghent University and now with ScientificCommons, put forth the notion in their paper titled ‘Do Intangible Assets at Start-Up Matter for Innovation Speed?’, that intangible assets such as:

1. start-up management team and founder experience, tenure, routines, and their cross-functionality, and

2. alliance and/or collaboration agreements with other relevant parties and organizations

     …combine to serve as important and contributing factors to innovation speed! 

As successful entrepreneurs realize, innovation speed (i.e., product launches and time to market) are important for many reasons, key among them are to:

1. gain early investment to achieve more (greater) financial independence,

2. gain broader external visibility and legitimacy as quickly as possible,

3. gain early competitive advantages, i.e., market position and possibly market share, which collectively, 

4. elevates the probability that the company will survive , in other words, be sustainable.

The study’s researchers state however, and I agree, new product innovation/development cycles vary.  For one, they may not consistently or immediately commence at the start-ups founding, and two, the speed of innovation development will vary relative to product development tasks and phases, and technologies required, among other variables. 

Again, no surprise here, other than making the argument once again, that identifying individual and/or inter-connected clusters of intangible assets that frequently emerge as ancillary and complimentary by-products of innovation should not be dismissed, overlooked, or neglected as potential (and additional) sources of value, revenue, and building blocks for complimentary (future) innovation.  And, their stewardship, oversight, management, and protection, like the primary innovation itself, should be routine considerations by management/leaderships teams, in board rooms, and among investors.

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