We’re after your ideas!

Ideas breed both innovations and product and process improvements, and safeguard the long-term competitiveness of Roche. As a Legal & IP manager at Roche in Waiblingen, Timo Wilhelm is constantly seeking ideas for precisely such purposes. He was involved in the development and implementation of "Deine IDee” (“Your IDea”), an uncomplicated, innovative tool that allows employees to submit and evaluate ideas and suggestions for improvements and ultimately review their patentability. Timo gives us the exciting details on "Deine IDee" in the interview below.

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Timo, "Deine IDee" was conceived four years ago, in 2013. What was the “idea” behind the tool?

"Deine IDee” came about in reply to the question of how we could generate a comparatively high number of patents as soon as possible, and ensure fast patent protection for developments or underlying ideas.

We wanted to design and implement a tool that is easy to use and would not require our employees to invest a lot of time in completing questionnaires or other forms. Our goal was to make all information available on a DIN A4 page as a first step.

A DIN A4 page? That doesn’t sound like much space for something that could potentially lead to a patent. What information interests you in this context?

Our tool begins, unremarkably, by requesting the name, location, and position of the originator of the idea.

This person should also have a (provisional) name for his/her “brainchild”, and describe the idea briefly. Naturally, what we are interested in is the specific problem the idea proposes to solve.

And if the originator also happens to know how our competitors are positioned in this specific context, we appreciate such information as well. 

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Timo Wilhelm

works as Legal & IP Manager at Roche PVT in Waiblingen and is jointly responsible for "Deine IDee", an uncomplicated, innovative tool that allows employees to submit and evaluate ideas and suggestions for improvements.

What happens after the employees submit their draft ideas?

In general, we start by taking a closer look at the submissions. If some of the points are not clear to us, or too unspecific, we shift into fact-finding mode. This means working together with the originator and asking questions about specific aspects and possibly even fleshing out the idea.

An “evaluation team” whose members include, among others, our general manager, our Head of R&D, Head of Product Care, and a representative from Legal, then meets every month or so. At each meeting we evaluate all the ideas submitted in the interim, and decide on those we wish to pursue. It has occasionally happened that ideas are directly filed for patenting.

How did the employees respond to "Deine IDee?

Overwhelmingly positive! We saw 58 submissions in the first year already, 24 of which resulted in a patent. Submissions rose to 104 the following year, generating 40 patents.

Our employees greatly appreciate the fact that ideas of any kind are welcome, and that all ideas submitted are explored – irrespective of whether or not they ultimately result in a patent, or otherwise lead to improvements.

Tags: Career Blog, Germany