These intermediaries do not invest any money in developing or validating the innovative ideas. Instead, they add value to the process by seeking out and filtering the promising ideas.
To do this, however, they have to first get access to the inventor community. Thus, the key capability for an intermediary such as BIG is the ability to establish and maintain a network of independent inventors from which the company can source innovative ideas. The larger the network, the more successful the innovation sourcing is likely to be.
An innovation capitalist (IC) is an organization that seeks out and evaluates innovative technology and product concepts from the inventor community and other external sources, develops and refines these ideas to a stage where their market potential is validated, and then markets these technology and product concepts to large client firms.
Profiles of Innovation Capitalist Firms Evergreen IP is a firm based in Evergreen, Colorado, that focuses on the innovation outsourcing market in the consumer product sector. Specifically, it seeks out promising ideas and inventions from individual inventors and makes selective investments to upgrade those inventions via market research, product design, and patent work. It then sells or licenses the resulting innovation and related IP to large consumer product companies such as P&G and Dial. The company targets a number of product categories, including health and beauty, household products, pet care and pet accessories, and low-tech gadgets. The founders of the company include an entrepreneur, a financial specialist, and a consumer product marketer. The company has so far reviewed more than 1,600 product ideas, has more than 15 ongoing product development projects, and is in discussions with prospective licensees on 6 of those projects. IgniteIP (IIP) is a U.S.-based investment firm with offices in New York and California that focuses on IP placement in the technology sector. It seeks out promising IP and invests in them (in the range of $500,000 to $2 million) to upgrade the IP and secure licensing opportunities in existing market channels. For this task, the company brings together a diverse set of knowledge and expertise including technical, industry, marketing, and legal expertise. The company has established an extensive network among senior managers in technology companies and utilizes the network to market and place its candidate IP. Given the risks—largely technological and development risks—it assumes on the IP, the company shares the IP royalties with the inventor. While IIP does not explicitly specify a particular technology sector, the dominant areas include chemicals, energy, environment, and software.