Even in the midst of a recession, a silent war for talent rages on at high-tech companies across the country. According to the Economist, American universities graduate only 60,000 engineers each year. This is not nearly enough people to fulfill the growing demands of telecommunications, manufacturing, and cleantech companies – companies whose very success depends upon innovative employees coming up with the next great product.
Though human resources and intellectual property departments occupy different hemispheres in the corporate world, patent analysis is one of the best ways to find potential recruits. After all, the names of key inventors, their filing histories and areas of technical expertise are listed in worldwide patent documents. What better way to determine a potential employee’s innovativeness and value to a company?
Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, agrees. According to Forbes, Jeff Bezos asks all new hires to tell him about their inventions in order to insure key people in his company have inventive attitudes.
In merger and acquisition discussions, patent analysis can also help negotiators draft retention strategies for key employees and determine which corporate tech departments are flourishing or stagnating. No company wants to spend millions of dollars on a strategic acquisition of a company’s LED lighting department, for instance, only to find that all the senior LED engineers have left to work for competitors. In these situations, patent data can help companies develop their “golden handcuffs” for the right people.
To provide an example of relevant patent data, I researched PowerGenix Corporation’s inventors through our CleanTech PatentEdgeTM solution. PowerGenix is a San Diego-based startup that manufactures nickel-zinc rechargeable batteries for scooters and microhybrids. Its low-cost, environmentally-friendly alternative to existing technologies has already earned it recognition on Greentech Media and the Global Cleantech Cluster Association.
According to CleanTech PatentEdge, PowerGenix has 143 patents worldwide, with filings going back to 2006. Jeffrey Phillips, the firm’s founder and chief technology officer, is the main powerhouse behind the company’s technology, with almost 100 patents under his name (see chart below).
Though potential acquirers and HR recruiters will likely know Jeffrey Phillips’ name, the PowerGenix website and materials do not mention the next two most prolific patent filers: Mingming Geng and Feng Feng. A cursory overview of their patents shows Mingming’s strength in nickel hydroxide electrodes and Feng Feng’s strength in tin and tin-zinc plated substrates – two key technologies in PowerGenix’ renewable nickel-zinc batteries (see diagram below).
The CleanTech PatentEdgeTM solution provides relevant company and inventor data for the entire Nickel-Zinc rechargeable battery space. Sign up for a free demo today.