Intellectual property and equity portfolio

CSIRO manages its intellectual property (IP) using the framework provided by the Statement of IP Principles for Australian Government Agencies.

The Statement of IP Principles for Australian Government Agencies ensures effective identification, protection, ongoing management and exploitation of IP.

During 2011–12, the portfolio experienced growth and change across most IP categories (see Table 2.20). In particular, foreign plant breeder’s rights increased significantly by 45 per cent. CSIRO remains Australia’s largest patent holder and is proactive in seeking partners to commercialise its IP.

CSIRO executes around 80 new commercial licenses every year, many of these licenses are with small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). Of the total 4,071 IP registrations and applications (including patents, trade marks, designs and plant varieties), 1,815 are either involved in commercial license arrangements or utilised in collaborative activity with third parties.

Table 2.20: CSIRO Intellectual property by type

Table 2.20: CSIRO Intellectual property by type
IP category1 Sub category 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12

Patents

Current PCT2 applications

111

97

90

101

98

Granted

1,933

1,625

1,630

1,631

1,649

Live cases

3,787

3,710

3,379

3,370

3,582

Inventions

Patent families

741

743

712

709

728

New

67

80

99

92

95

Trade marks

Australian

291

265

263

259

275

Foreign

113

130

114

109

81

Plant breeder’s rights

Australian

122

122

122

122

83

Foreign

25

25

21

21

39

Registered designs

Australian

2

2

2

2

3

Foreign

11

10

10

10

8

In 2011–12 Starpharma (ASx:SPl) reached a milestone of $500 million estimated market value. Starpharma was founded on technology originally discovered at the Biomolecular Research Institute, a joint venture between CSIRO and the Victorian State Government. Starpharma is Australia’s third largest publicly listed biotechnology company. Having developed and commercialised dendrimer technology (a type of synthetic nanoscale polymer), Starpharma has grown to become one of Australia’s biotechnology success stories.

Its lead product, vivagel, is currently in Phase 3 trials for treatment of bacterial vaginosis, and the company also has dendrimer development programs in both drug delivery and agrochemicals that are producing promising results.

To support the growth of the IP Portfolio, CSIRO places significant focus on strategic engagements and collaboration with industry partners. In 2007, CSIRO established the Australian Growth Partnership (AGP) program to increase engagement with Australian SMEs. The AGP program provides funds to high potential, technology-receptive SMEs so they can access CSIRO research and development capability and IP. It is designed to be mutually beneficial by assisting SMEs to overcome existing technical issues, while contributing to CSIRO’s National Research Flagships Program. As at 30 June 2012, six SMEs were engaged in the AGP program.

Equity portfolio

2011–12 was a challenging year for CSIRO’s equity portfolio. The total value of CSIRO’s equity portfolio at 30 June 2012 was $17.1 million across listed and unlisted companies. Based on our shareholdings, this translates into a market capitalisation of approximately $832 million. Revenues from these companies added approximately $120 million to Australia’s gross domestic product and employed 279 people.

CSIRO’s overall total equity portfolio decreased significantly from 30 June 2011. Major contributing factors were the decrease in value of listed companies due to ongoing unfavourable market conditions and the declining shareholding value of a number of the unlisted portfolio companies. There have been no new spin-out companies formed during 2011–12, however, as Table 2.21 indicates, some of the portfolio companies have raised funds from the capital markets during the year to help fund ongoing commercialisation activities.

CSIRO directly creates new high technology SMEs through spinning out IP when that is deemed to be the best available pathway to commercialisation. CSIRO currently has interests in 34 companies. The broader impact of CSIRO’s recent spin-out companies on the economy has been estimated as nearly $1 billion in market capitalisation.

Table 2.21: Portfolio movements and activity during 2011–12

Table 2.21: Portfolio movements and activity during 2011–12
Activity Number of companies Value ($m)

Companies created

0

0

New capital raised3

5

60.35

New CSIRO equity contributions

7

2.76

Wound-up

1

0

  1. IP categories are defined in the glossary on page 185
  2. Patent Cooperation Treaty
  3. Capital raised from all sources by companies within the portfolio

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