October 2020, Hicham Abghay, Germany
Each month we introduce you to a member of our Ambassadors team. This month: Hicham Abghay, our Ambassador in Germany, who is part of Steinbeis 2i GmbH in Stuttgart.
Could you briefly describe your core expertise and field of activity within the Enterprise Europe Network? What are key services you offer to your clients?
I focus on increasing the innovation capacities and sustainable competitiveness of SMEs – especially of those active in the healthcare domain. Our key services are tailored towards helping them to strategically deploy tools and resources which are already available, but might not yet be integrated into the organisational routines, in a systematic way that meets their current needs as they thrive.
What does it mean to you to be a European IP Helpdesk Ambassador? And what do you like most about it?
The privilege and, at the same time, the obligation of an ambassador is to bring two ends together to meet: underscoring opportunities and casting challenges SMEs might stumble over when brooding about their little secrets. You have kind of a messenger function, passing an encouraging message here and providing a listening ear there. Thus, at times you are at the pulse of very crazy ideas and fantastic innovations, but also witnessing sad situations where people spent all their savings on something, but missed out on an important part of their IP strategy.
How would you describe the internal interaction and cooperation with your Enterprise Europe Network colleagues?
The network is the largest swarm intelligence dedicated to supporting SMEs in their innovation journey. As a learning neural network – since we hardly produce products - the decentralised knowledge base is in constant transaction. This means a lot of learning, exchange of practices and calibration of knowledge as well as attitude.
In your opinion, what are current “hot” topics and questions related to Intellectual Property (IP) in your region/country?
A perpetual topic with an indisputable global dimension beyond regions and disciplines relates to assets pertinent to health in general terms. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it got even more prominent. The question “Who owns this data?”, the use of (deep) tech such as blockchain or artificial intelligence, multilayer negotiation or ownership thereof, as well as Freedom to Operate (FTO) or extracting and sharing value from tangible and intangible assets… all these are issues that will occupy us for a while.
What are major challenges SMEs face with regard to IP? And what kind of support is needed, you think?
IP is a bit like the elephant in the dark: everybody is talking or, at least, thinking about it. You realise the dimensions of intensity, severity and importance only to the extent you experience it. Unfortunately, this learning effect often happens afterwards, when faced with an infringement or, if you are lucky, when you have bet on the winning strategy. Therefore, it is highly recommendable to approach this both strategically and systematically, and take a closer look at it every now and then – as it constantly evolves and so do the needs of SMEs.