One of CASTís objectives is to ensure that our research and development efforts are utilised and implemented by industry. Our industry partners provide the most effective route to market for many of our technologies. Several of CASTís patent protected technologies have been licensed to our industry partners who will either use the technology themselves or take the technology to an end user. The opportunities for these technologies were identified by industry and CAST was able to undertake the research with direct input from the end users. In some instances CASTís industry partners require non-exclusive access to CAST technology and different licensing arrangements have been established that deliver technologies in a global context.
In this context, CAST needs to manage the creation, protection and commercialisation of intellectual property for the Centre, its partners and Australia. As a research organisation one of CASTís core activities is the creation of intellectual property (IP). As IP is a key asset of the organisation, its management is critical to ensure industry adoption of technology whilst also ensuring that the CRC maximises its returns. CASTís strategy for managing the IP that it develops is to:
- Identify IP created within projects.
- Establish the most appropriate means of protecting the IP.
- Determine and implement a strategy for the technology to be accessed and adopted by industry.
- Actively managing IP on a portfolio basis in order to establish where maximum value can be created and delivered.
The whole team in CAST participates in IP protection and management. CAST has been nurturing the development of a culture that supports IP creation, protection and exploitation. Research staff have been provided with training and support to help them implement, protect, commercialise and transfer the technologies developed within CAST.
CAST IP is identified through the project review process and direct interaction with Sector Leaders and project teams. IP is recorded in CAST's proprietary IP database. CAST has engaged the Strategic Technology Evaluation and Management (STEM) Partnership to provide an independent valuation of its IP portfolio. At a project level, STEM identified the benefits of the technology to the CRC as well as the industry participants and quantified the financial values. STEM also identified and quantified the risks associated with developing, commercialising and implementing the technologies. This analysis enables CAST to manage IP created on a project basis as well as a portfolio basis. STEM compared the performance of CAST to other research organisations including some CRCs. CAST performed well against its peer group and corporate research centres.
The licensing of CASTís patent protected technologies to our partners has resulted in significantly improved performance of their manufacturing operations by reducing costs and improving productivity. As examples, the patented technology developed by CAST has generated new business for Advanced Magnesium Technologies in magnesium production and applications (AM-SC1, AM-cover, AM-cast, AM-lite) and for Nissan Casting in aluminium die-casting (CASTvac, CASTvision). Another important technology developed in the aluminium die-casting sector is an improved long-life coating for low pressure and gravity die-casting (CASTcoatTM); this technology has been licensed to Acheson Industries for commercialisation. Overall, improvements in productivity and profitability for one industry partner have been valued at direct cost savings of over $1m per annum with associated greenhouse gas emission reductions of more than 500 tonnes of CO per annum.