On the 29th September 2021, Dehns hosted the (virtual) event “Building Resilience and Fostering Innovation – handling disruption” as part of Oslo Innovation Week 2021.  (A recording of the event is available for viewing below.)

The event was hosted by Haakon Thue Lie, IP Management Consultant in Dehns’ Oslo office. Haakon was joined by an exceptional panel: experts in funding, collaboration and IP strategy from the UK and Norway.

Dr. Masha Strømme – Life Sciences Investor, PAACS Invest
Felipe Aguillera Børresen – Senior IP Adviser, Innovation Norway
Ole Kristian Hjelstuen – CEO, Inven2
Ove V. Solesvik – Business developer, Aleap / CEO, GreinDX AS
Deborah Owen – Partner, Dehns
Haakon Thue Lie – IP Management Consultant, Dehns

The panelists took part in a lively discussion on the theme of resilience and innovation, discussing decision-making and strategy in innovative organisations during a pandemic and the factors that foster innovation and contribute to resilient organisational infrastructure.

The key take aways from the event, as provided by each of our panellists, are listed below.

Felipe Aguillera Børresen
Senior IP Adviser, Innovation Norway 

  • While many innovative companies saw their competitive position weakened as a result of the pandemic, other companies managed to strengthen their competitive advantages and were able to bounce forward after the crisis. These companies had in common a proactive approach dealing with the challenges, and the fact that intellectual property plays a major role in their business. As more Norwegian startups become growth companies competing with large international corporations (5 unicorns and counting), it is more important than ever that companies protect and manage their intellectual property not only for defensive purposes, but most importantly to sustain their competitive advantages and reduce risk.
  • After a crisis comes opportunity. Norwegian companies should be ready to harness the opportunities that the post pandemic era brings in the form of new markets, new funding sources, new business models and collaborations, renewed focus on cleantech, sustainable food production, demand for new medtech solutions to name a few. We are moving towards a greener and increasingly digital driven society at a fast pace, encouraged by EUs Green Deal and the EU taxonomy. Two examples of the opportunities that companies can take advantage of today are the funding schemes from Innovation Norway, including the Extraordinary Innovation Grants, and EU-funding from the EIC Accelerator targeting SMEs and startups with breakthrough innovation and high growth potential, funding now companies at earlier stages than ever before. This is an open invitation for innovative SMEs and startups to contact Innovation Norway to discuss new opportunities for funding, competence building and advice in Norway and abroad.

Masha Strømme 
Life Sciences Investor, PAACS Invest 

  • Undeniable increase in use of telehealth, telemedicine and generally digital health. Remote patient monitoring is a reality now in most Western geographies – with full reimbursement for a medical consult. Important to note that general understanding is that you can diagnose properly about 80% of conditions through video – no need for physical meeting with doctor!
  • The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report 2021 estimates that there has been a step back of 39 years due to the pandemic for women and girls’ access to healthcare. The report urges us all to learn lessons about its impacts and to build back better solutions so that these groups aren’t left behind. Basically – during the pandemic, women in charitable markets were denied access to basic healthcare such as contraception etc…We need to see today’s situation as an opportunity to integrate new and SUSTAINABLE ways of delivering healthcare to address women’s needs.
  • IP was critical in actually fighting the pandemic in ensuring that funds were made available and focus shifted to develop new vaccines, and scale up manufacturing to ensure an expedited response from the industry!

Ole Kristian Hjelstuen  
CEO, Inven2 

  • The pandemic was certainly a situation that disrupted the world order we had gotten used to. Global supply lines were interrupted. People had to think up new solutions. Our experience was that scientists in public research organizations came up with more innovative ideas than the period before the pandemic. And when labs were opening up again during the course of the pandemic, the ideas could be tested. Overall, there was good progress in innovative projects from the Oslo University Hospital, the other hospitals in South-Eastern Norway and the University of Oslo through the pandemic, including strategic IP protection.
  • Our impression is that the pandemic has spurred a culture change towards more entrepreneurship in Norway. It is as if the disruption has made people want to make a personal contribution to global challenges. Seeing the important role industry has taken in bringing academic IP to the people as vaccine solutions to end the pandemic have been inspiring and taken down some of the commercial barriers in our academic culture. As more people want to be part of the solutions to global challenges, this could materialize in more IP, more startup-companies and more sustainable industries.

Ove Solesvik
Business developer, Aleap / CEO, GreinDX AS 

  • At Aleap we have not seen any significant changes in how health startups have dealt with intellectual properties/assets during the pandemic, other than entrepreneurs being more digitally active. Aleap urges all our members (start-ups) to make sure they explore and follow-up IPR issues which often are crucial for their future success. During the pandemic we have organized meetings between our members and IP specialists/professionals via Teams etc, and this has (if anything) improved/sped up the IPR awareness and processes.
  • It seems like the pandemic has resulted in increased broad interest for and focus on health innovation, and Aleap has seen an increased number of ambitious entrepreneurs and health startups during the last 12 months. We cannot conclude that this increase is a direct result of the pandemic, but we feel confident that the pandemic has not had any negative effects on the deal-flow of new health startups.
  • As a founder of GreinDX, a R&D focused cancer diagnostics company, the pandemic has made it easier and more efficient (even cheaper) to handle IPR issues.

Deborah Owen
Partner, Dehns

  • We have seen on the whole that clients have adapted amazingly well to the difficulties caused by the pandemic.  They have shown continued faith in the IP system to protect their innovation and add value and assets to their companies.  Some have even been able to use the pandemic to their advantage by adapting their existing technologies to a Covid related use or creating new Covid-related innovations.  They have also embraced the ease and convenience of virtual technology – during the pandemic we have probably had more frequent meetings with many clients because of this (this echoes Ove’s comments).
  • Similar to Ole Kristian’s second point, the impression in the UK is that we have seen a culture change, certainly insofar as scientists and innovation is now appreciated, respected and praised.  It has really come into its own and that is wonderful to see for us working in the innovation sector.  It is also backed up by numbers – the Ipsos MORI UK report says that recent data from Companies House indicates that there were record numbers of new start-ups in Q3 2020.  What perhaps remains to be seen is whether these start-ups get the funding and support they need to survive in the post-pandemic era.

Haakon Thue Lie
IP Management Consultant, Dehns

  • We have explored the term “resilience” and how it connects to innovation and a disruptive crisis such as the pandemic.
  • This relationship between innovation and resilience and sustainability is not something that policymakers know how to manage.
  • The tremendous effort from industry, academia, individuals and governments enabled the development and testing of vaccines in an unprecedented way.
  • The IP system adapted and showed that it works well in times of disruption.
  • Our report and this discussion are both contributions to a better understanding on how financing, collaboration and other key parts of innovation can work together with the IP system to foster innovation, resilience and eventually sustainability.


Click on the image below to watch a recording of the event: