With over 22 licensed varieties in its suite of products, intellectual property (IP) already forms an integral part of Freshmax’s business.
However, the desire to operate over the top of its existing structure and unlock some wider value has prompted the leading Australasian group to invest in its own dedicated IP business.
To be known as Innovar, the new venture will launch this month under the guidance of Simon Gillett, who currently serves as Freshmax’s general manager of IP and marketing.
While the varieties Freshmax currently licenses will form a cornerstone of the Innovar business, Gillett and his team have the scope to develop an operation that offers a wider reach than what the group has previously had the capacity to deliver.
“IP is a space that everyone is talking about but when your sole focus is on securing downstream rights for a commercial business, you become fairly myopic,” Gillett told Asiafruit.
“This gives us the opportunity to look longer term and add more value. There’s opportunities that can be unlocked but they can only be unlocked if you’re looking more broadly than the space you’re operating in.”
One particular opportunity relates to the services that surround commercialising IP varieties. Another is around securing the title rights to its own IP.
“There’s an obvious opportunity here to broaden our skillset, and operate on the lines of technical transfer, branding and marketing,” Freshmax Group chief executive Murray McCallum said. “We’ve always had a hand in this space but I think there’s an opportunity to expand this further into things like trademarking.
“In the future, we could start to get into the space of owning IP ourselves, getting into genetics and controlling those genetics.”
Innovar will initially be 100 per cent owned by Freshmax, but the group is open to the prospect of partners coming onboard in the future. There is also the potential to use Innovar’s skillset to develop IP specifically for other companies.
“If you look at some of the big players in the world, they know IP is really important but they have no idea where to start,” McCallum said. “We have a valuable skillset that we can use to work on someone else’s behalf. Innovar could well have several revenue streams in this respect.”
With this in mind, work is being done to give Innovar its own “look and feel” to dispel any preconceptions that this is a Freshmax-centric entity.
“The expectation is to create a bit of arms-length distance from the commercial business, so we’re not seen to just be securing marketing rights to funnel through to the Freshmax Group,” Gillett explained, adding that the objective is to operate at an overarching level to Freshmax’s commercial business.
The full version of this article appears in Asiafruit October.