Can science be combined with business? – It is absolutely possible to do, as shown by various examples of Polish universities and research teams that do great science, but at the same time do not see anything scandalous and unethical in the fact that you can earn money from it – assessed Piotr Zakrzewski in the podcast “People of Science” , Deputy President of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland.
As part of the “Science is a Polish specialty” cycle in June, we deal with the financing and commercialization of Polish science, inventions, and innovations introduced by Polish companies. One of the state institutions that deals with the world of science and the world of innovative companies on a daily basis is the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland. Piotr Zakrzewski*, deputy president of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland, told us in the “People of Science” podcast not only about the activities of the institution itself, which protects intellectual property and promotes innovation, but also about interesting Polish inventions and whether being a scientist can pay off.
We invite you to listen to the entire episode of the Wprost podcast “People of Science”:
“Patents do not cause civilization to stagnate. On the contrary”
The Patent Office of the Republic of Poland deals with the protection of industrial property. Piotr Zakrzewski explained why patent protection exists at all, which he described as “a kind of social contract concluded between the creator and society”.
– There is an artist who devotes his time, his energy, educates himself and works in a laboratory. And he receives an award from society for his solution. This society tells him “okay, we give you a monopoly for 20 years and you will be able to use it, but we will also get something from it” – says the deputy president of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland. – Because a patent does not mean blocking a given solution. After all, we use patented technologies in everyday life. The fact that the light bulb was once patented, that we had inventions in the form of a computer, radio, smartphone and so on did not cause civilization to stagnate. On the contrary, it is often said about the patent system that it is a motivator for those creators who have won this award, enriched themselves thanks to intellectual property, to generate new solutions – he adds.
And what do inventors, scientists or other entities submitting inventions receive thanks to obtaining a patent? – A few things. From such the most tangible financial benefit, the possibility of commercialization, implementation of this solution, the possibility of concluding contracts, even license agreements with business entities – lists Piotr Zakrzewski. “But it’s also a kind of prestige,” he adds.
The official also emphasized that the condition for granting a patent is its disclosure, which is also conducive to the development of science.
When asked whether being a scientist can pay off, Piotr Zakrzewski says yes. He emphasizes, however, that the point is not to turn scientists into businessmen. – The point is that a scientist who usually works socially and, above all, his activity is based on publications, should combine these two models. It is absolutely possible to do, which is perfectly demonstrated by various examples of Polish universities and research teams that do great science, but at the same time do not see anything scandalous and unethical in the fact that you can earn money from it – he emphasizes.
Inventions in Poland are reported by scientists, companies, but also individuals
And who in Poland submits the most solutions for patenting? – When it comes to hard technical solutions, i.e. inventions, utility models, recently business has reported the most of them. Right after business, of course, there were scientific units, understood as universities, institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences and other research institutes. But last year, we were somewhat surprised to see that again the result obtained by scientific units was the result from a few years ago, when science was still submitting the largest number of solutions for patenting. And that’s what happened last year, i.e. business again fell to second place – said the deputy president of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland, emphasizing, however, that the difference is small. In his opinion, this is the result of the pandemic, which meant that companies had other expenses.
It turns out, however, that apart from companies and research teams, individual scientists and inventors also apply for a patent. – The group of natural persons who submit applications to us is large. Last year it was almost 14 percent. the official pointed out. – On the other hand, I think that today the complicated nature of the world and the reality that surrounds us give the institutions and organizations the best chances, be they scientific units or companies – he assessed. – Commercialization is not a matter of having ten thousand zlotys on the account, it is often a matter of hundreds of thousands of zlotys, a matter of raising funds. And in order to obtain these funds, you often need to set up a company, he added.
Patents in Poland are granted in many different fields. – Every year we have about 4,000 applications for inventions to the Patent Office. It really is a dozen or so fields of technology that these applications represent – assessed Piotr Zakrzewski.
When asked to indicate a few specific examples of Polish successes, he mentioned the solution developed by the team of Professor Jacek Jemility regarding the use of mRNA technology in new generation drugs and vaccines as the largest commercialization in the history of Polish science. – And this commercialization took place for a gigantic amount, 610 million dollars – emphasized the official.
He also mentioned the cosmic achievements of the Vigo System company, which produces detectors for Martian rovers, which were actually used in the mission to Mars, or the LFC company, which produces spinal implants, as well as the “MORATEX” Institute of Security Technology, which produces defense technologies, such as all kinds of helmets, or bulletproof vests.
* Piotr Zakrzewski – PhD in social sciences, Deputy President of the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland since January 2020. Earlier, as the deputy director of the Department of Promotion and Support of Innovation in the Patent Office of the Republic of Poland, he was responsible for the implementation of undertakings and system projects as well as the development of materials aimed at disseminating knowledge about intellectual property. Author of several publications in the field of political systems as well as intellectual property protection.Podcast “People of Science” is created in cooperation with Studio Plac.