The Talent Developer. Interview with CEO Anders Lian
Anders Lian (46), President of Sinvent, is a developer of technological talent, an activity
that encourages both business development and yet more research.
”Anders Lian, just what is Sinvent?”
President of Sinvent, Anders Lian.
Photo: Geir Mogen
”We are a company that is dedicated to commercialisation, and we are owned by SINTEF. We cooperate with SINTEF’s research divisions in the hunt for good technological inventions, and we evaluate whether they are commercially capable of standing on their own feet if they are not to be used in the context of a project.
We might say that our work consists of turning a good idea into a company, or into a licence for an established company. One of our companies is Nacre, which won a NOK 200 million contract last year with the US Department of Defense, for its advanced earplug with built-in communication equipment. This was the result of longterm, goal-oriented efforts.”
”Why has SINTEF established a company of this sort?”
”It helps to implement technologies and create jobs, and it is something that earns us money. What we earn is ploughed back into the milieu that made the original invention, so that it can make a contribution to new projects and more research. In this sense, what we do helps to contribute to SINTEF’s vision of “Technology for a better society”.”
”How does Sinvent operate?”
”We often utilise the concept of “Compact Games” when we want to describe our operating model. This is a concept that we stole from the Lillehammer Winter Olympics – where the philosophy was that there should be a short distance between all the arenas. In practice, we collaborate closely with our own divisions and inventors. We also enjoy close collaboration with industrial companies, venture investors and consultants in the commercialisation of our inventions.
We are involved in process steering, patenting, market evaluations and business plans, just to mention a few aspects of the process. We also manage SINTEF’s intellectual property rights and its licence and venture portfolios. Everyone in Sinvent takes part in the projects in different ways.”
”2006 was a breakthrough year for Sinvent. In what way?”
”Last year we signed an agreement to cooperate with Verdane Capital (formerly Four Seasons Venture), which bought up all of 75 percent of our portfolio. As far as SINTEF was concerned, the sale was a good source of income, which has already been returned to the research groups that had the original ideas. We have also ensured that the companies have been given well-endowed owners who will strengthen their development. This demonstrates that SINTEF is developing world-class technologies and that we have been good at adapting them to a market.
Last year, we also carried out 12 commercialisation processes and negotiated a profitable large-scale sale of shares in Powel AS on behalf of SINTEF Energy Research.”
”How would you describe Sinvent for an elderly aunt?”
Well, as you know, my dear aunt, SINTEF consists of very clever people who develop worldclass technologies. The technologies that are not used in contract research, Sinvent transforms into businesses.”