China's first government-led intellectual property fund was launched in Beijing on Monday.
With initial capital of 100 million yuan ($15.72 million), the Guozhi Intelligence Intellectual Property Fund co-founded by the Guozhi Patent Warning Consulting Center and Qinglin Huacheng, an investment company, is targeted at companies set to list on the New Third Board, an over-the-counter market for small businesses.
"The fund will be mainly used to help companies develop their IP and gain patents for core technologies in a bid to position themselves better in the industrial landscape," said Zhao Wei, general manager of Qinglin Huacheng.
"We will regularly release the Guozhi Intelligence Intellectual Property Index, which is a key indicator for the fund's investment and patent services after research into the IP index of listed companies on the New Third Board and analysis of their success factors," Zhao said.
Unlike its peers, the new fund will also offer IP consultancy services ranging from patent filings to industry technology trend analysis to aid companies to increase their IP asset value, said Zhang Dan, director of the Publicity Department of the Beijing Patent Examination Cooperation Center at the State Intellectual Property Office.
With the Guozhi Patent Warning Consulting Center as its subsidiary, the Beijing Patent Examination Cooperation Center annually processes more than one-third of invention patent applications and over 90 percent of filings for two other types of patents in China - utility models and industrial designs - enabling it to become the largest unit directly under SIPO's Patent Office, said Bai Guangqing, director of the Beijing Patent Examination Cooperation Center, who added that the center also releases thousands of patent analysis reports.
One of China's first group of pilot patent operation companies, the Guozhi center has been granted 10 million yuan from the Ministry of Finance, half of which went to the new fund.
The rest of the fund is financed by a variety of channels, including the IP office of Beijing's Haidian district, financial institutions and private investors.
"By establishing the fund, we hope the government investment will divert more capital from the private sector to IP and, meanwhile, promote technology innovation and IP protection, use and operation," Bai said.
The cooperation with Qinglin Huacheng, a private equity manager with rich expertise in investment in high-tech companies, is a crossover covering both IP and financial spheres, he added. "It is mutually beneficial for both parties."
As China is accelerating its innovation-driven development strategy on a path toward becoming an IP powerhouse, the market environment, property system, and mechanisms for financing, benefit distribution and fostering and attracting human resources all need to be factored into creating an innovation-friendly climate, said Lei Xiaoyun, director of SIPO's patent administration department.
As a fundamental guarantee for motivating innovation, the IP system is itself a property and market mechanism for distributing resources, and advances the country's change from a manufacturing hub to a creation center, from focusing on speed to quality, from China-made products to established Chinese brands, Lei noted.
A policy on accelerating the implementation of the innovation-driven strategy released by the central government in March noted the significance of strict IP protection and enhanced support for technology innovation in the capital market, and called for exploring IP securitization and IP-collateralized financial services.
SIPO initiated a patent navigation pilot program in April 2013, using patent information to improve business decisions and promote industrial development.
Currently, there are eight patent navigation industry development test zones across the country.
The government plans to have a stake in 20 out of 70 patent operation pilot companies, including the Guozhi Patent Warning Consulting Center.
Ten provinces have received financial support from the central government for establishing IP operational funds and four provinces for risk compensation funds for IP-collateralized financing this year.
That support helps create a sound IP operational environment, including financial platforms, institutions, capital and the industry, for developing an innovation-friendly ecosystem, Lei said.
She said she expected the new fund to play a leading role as "a national team" in serving small high-tech companies and become a benchmark for patent operation pilot businesses.