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Make an Impact for IP!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
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Make an Impact for IP!

By Mark Andrew Smith, VP Competition Mentorship, LES Foundation
Principal, Mark Andrew Smith, PLLC—an Intellectual Property Law Firm
Founder, TechCrossings, LLC—a Business Consultancy

When was the last time you had a conversation with somebody that had a completely skewed idea of what intellectual property is all about and how it can be used?  How often has the key learning from your initial consultation with a new client been the revelation that they needed to come to an IP professional much earlier or that their IP was misdirected?  Would you like to do something about misconceptions that appear to be all too common? Well you can!  Engage with the LES Foundation International Business Plan Competition. 

LES volunteers interact with future business leaders and present entrepreneurs in this Competition. Ours is a unique competition because of the focus on the role of an IP Strategy aligned with and in support of the overall business model and strategy.  The Competition provides our participants a robust opportunity to engage in experiential learning at its best.  For LES members, the Competition provides an opportunity to join with other LES volunteers and make a difference.   

Our participants are entrepreneurs in early stage start-ups (i.e., with no more than $200K in equity investment).  Although most participants are in graduate studies, this is not a requirement.  These are people that are going the extra mile and will go on to do great things.  Most often they are at important nexus points in educational programs, incubators and accelerator programs. They are well positioned to share their learnings.  And they are well positioned to appreciate and apply your help. 

Presently it is unusual for plans coming into the competition to initially include an IP strategy.  This is just rarely taught.  Even strong teams from top academic and entrepreneur programs have seldom been exposed to these concepts.  It is truly rewarding when you see the “light go on” for a team and hear positive feedback on the subsequent reception in some of the top competitions or funding presentations.

The support from our LES volunteers gets great feedback!  It is great fun, helps our participants, and contributes to advancing the understanding of the strategic role IP can play in serving business plans.   In the words of a recent Grand Prize Winner …

“The LES Graduate Business Plan Competition was a great learning experience for our team WAVVE Stream. Having early involvement had tremendous effect in our success. The expert judges provided us with well thought feedback that put us in a better position when presenting our IP portfolio to investors. We were lucky to find a great mentor that was in the same city as ours and were able to meet in person. Through the mentorship program we learned a lot about Intellectual Property Strategy and how our startup company can benefit from the parameters put in place. From in-house procedures to having a global strategy, we now feel prepared and ready to commercialize our technology. And the mentorship doesn’t stop after the competition. Our mentor has opened doors to new contacts within and outside of the LES community that could help us in our industry and with investments. Thank you LES!”

—2015 Grand Prize Winner, WAVVE Stream


3 Ways You Can Help the LES Foundation International Business Plan Competition

1) Become a Judge

Our 2017 round is actively recruiting judges right now.  Judges are assigned to a panel of 4 or so members with each panel reviewing approximately 6 plans through an online portal.  A single panel of judges address the finalists.  Participants highly value the written feedback.

2) Become a Sponsor (or encourage your company to do so)

LES budget support and member donations to the LES Foundation are gratefully received, are well applied, and do make a difference.  However, there remains a substantial funding gap.  Your contribution as a bronze, silver or gold Sponsor of the Business Plan Competition is critical to this unique and important facet of the LES educational mission.  The volunteer support of LES members combined with the stewardship of LES Foundation provides very effective leverage of your donations toward doing good work.

3) Become Engaged With Your LES Chapter 

Another new component to the Competition is leveraging the strength of the LES membership through chapter engagement.  Regional, national and local chapter participation brings new opportunities and outreach to potential contestants, interaction with participants, and broadened LES engagement.  Can you be our interface with your local chapter, universities, and local programs?