How IP Helped My Business Thrive, And How It Helps Indiana, Too

Posted: Updated:

On the reality television series "Shark Tank," venture capitalists like "Mr. Wonderful" are much more eager to invest in companies that have a patent or patent-pending innovation. "Why can't I just go make this myself?" is a question often asked by the "sharks." These savvy businesspeople know that Intellectual Property protections are a necessity for any business hoping to make a profit from an original idea or invention. Without it, they risk competition from larger outsiders who may steal their idea in hopes of getting a piece of the pie (or the whole thing).

Small business owners fuel economic growth in America, and IP is necessary to protect them from larger, often foreign, competitors that have the resources to undercut the little guy. Shark Tank illustrates that IP is often a necessity for small businesses to secure the funding and capital needed to grow an idea into a full-fledged, profit-earning business.

As an inventor and CEO, I know first-hand the value of intellectual property rights. What started as an idea my Junior year of high school has morphed into a company, Atlas Energy Systems LLC, which has developed a novel device to turn nuclear waste into energy, all thanks to IP protections.

As an undergraduate, I worked with the Indiana University IP clinic to secure provisional and utility patents for my original ideas, leading to my $10,000 investment at Purdue’s Burton Morgan Business Plan Competition and later the Indiana State Clean Energy Business Plan Competition. The ability to say “patent-pending” on stage at these competitions is what secured the funding necessary to get my company off the ground and fund original experiments and research to further develop my energy-converting device.

I sought additional funding from the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory’s Chain Reaction Innovations program, where I pitched my idea to venture capitalists. For them, having a secure IP was a must, not an option. Had I presented my ideas without another provisional patent, one which I secured merely one hour before the competition, these ideas would have entered public domain and I would have lost the rights to them, and to any future profits. Once again, being able to say “patent-pending” in front of a panel of reviewers allowed me to win entry to the program where my business partners and I have had access to funds, equipment, tools and facilities to further develop and commercialize the energy conversion device, which is the hallmark of our business.

My story is the perfect example of the impact IP protections can have on securing the funding that small businesses need to thrive. And businesses that rely on IP are at the heart of Indiana’s economy. In fact, IP supports 1.7 million jobs in Indiana alone -- a full two-thirds of the state’s private sector employment. This is significantly higher than the national medium of 46 percent. 

The jobs created by IP boost incomes for families across the state. Wages for IP workers are 28.3% higher than for non-IP workers in Indiana, and total private sector sales in Indiana from direct IP and IP-related companies make up 85% of our state’s $575 billion in total private sector sales. Additionally, IP protections encourage research and development (R&D) investment, to the tune of $8 billion. R&D helps transform ideas like mine into innovative new products and processes and is an important way for states to increase economic growth.

Without IP, I likely would not have been able to turn an idea I had in high school into a successful company. There’s no question that I have strong IP protections to thank for much of my success and the success of my company, but the numbers show that the state of Indiana and many of its workers do as well.

Ian Hamilton is chief executive officer of Atlas Energy Systems LLC.

  • Perspectives

    • Plan Developed; Time For Action

      More than two hundred community leaders from all corners of the region gathered last week in Mishawaka for the unveiling of the first ever regional economic development plan. The plan launch marked the culmination of more than a year of work by hundreds of volunteers seeking to develop a roadmap for regional development over the next seven years. The plan comes on the heels of...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • Gen Con Extends With Indianapolis

      Gen Con LLC has extended its agreement to hold its massive gaming event in Indianapolis through 2022. Last year's event attracted record turnstile attendance of nearly 208,000. For the first time in its 50-year history, the convention sold out all of its attendee badges before last year's event began. The event also added the first level of Lucas Oil Stadium, and reached Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the first time for a concert by Grammy-winning band They Might Be Giants.

    • Cummins to Design Combat Engines That Elude the Enemy

      The monstrous, larger-than-life military tanks of tomorrow could be powered by Hoosier ingenuity. A recent $47 million defense contract delivers marching orders for Columbus-based Cummins Inc.: develop the next-generation engine to power U.S. combat vehicles, and it must be stronger, but smaller, and elusive to enemies’ efforts to spot it. 

    • Manufacturing Exec: Indiana Has a 'Population Problem'

      The president of the Indiana Manufacturers Association says, to fill the growing number of openings in Indiana's manufacturing sector and beyond, the state needs to ramp up efforts to increase its population. "Our check engine light is on," says Brian Burton, "and it's blinking." He says the association is pushing a measure with state lawmakers that would exempt some people who move to Indiana for a job from paying state income tax for a number of years.

    • Greenwood Approves Downtown Projects

      The Greenwood Redevelopment Commission has approved more than $4.5 million in downtown projects. They include a major exterior renovation for Planetary Brewing and a new connector road. The Planetary Brewing project is being supported by funding from the G.R.O.W. Greenwood Initiative, which is a matching grant program to help businesses along some of the city's most traveled corridors improve their aesthetic appeal. RDC President Brent Tilson says the results have been...

    • Study: Indiana Amish Gene Mutation Shows Longer Life Potential

      Northeast Indiana's Amish population is at the center of research that could help people live longer. Results from a 2015 study that were published late last year in the journal ScienceAdvances suggests those who possess a specific gene mutation, first identified in 1991 by the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center in an Adams County girl with a rare bleeding disorder, live around a decade longer than normal. They also had lower insulin levels and diabetes rates.