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30th January 2023

Innovation Led Sustainability

Season 3 Episode 1

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Episode 1 in Season 3 of the Cipher Vision Podcast series features Gregorio Ossola, Head of Corporate Solutions at one.five.

He shared with us the data-led approach that one.five is taking to revolutionise the sustainable packaging industry, utilising a convergence of sources, including patent intelligence and consumer preferences to make fully informed decisions on which materials will lead the way to a more green future.

He chats to the hosts of the Cipher Vision podcast, who are:

Listen to Gregorio’s key takeaways

Conversation highlights

On one.five’s mission 

One.five is effectively a biomaterials, research, development and scale-up company. And the reason why I mentioned all three of these elements is because we don’t just focus on the initial stages of innovation and development, or we don’t just focus on the scale-up and the commercialisation of products, we look at the entire spectrum. 

Our business model is to patent develop technologies and licence them out in various different forms to our customers, that are mostly within the consumer packaged goods space. 

What we want to do is enable change in the packaging industry and brands alike, with tried and tested blueprints to make sustainable packaging.

On forging blueprints

Take the example of a CPG company that say, produces ground coffee. What we will do is effectively take their performance needs, their criteria, we would look for relevant IP and technologies that can fulfil this need, and then develop it from prototype scale all the way to mass production.

Creating effectively a blueprint that this company needs to follow to produce. And what we try to do is to integrate within their supply chain. 

The obstacle facing large corporations

There are much larger companies with much deeper pockets than we could ever imagine, that have access to an incredible amounts of tools. The reality is that the perfect technology, or say the most sustainable technology, currently does not exist.

There may be bits and pieces here and there that combined give you the perfect packaging. But the perfect solution is not out there, despite the claims of the industry.

And this is where one.five is trying to disrupt the industry.

We’re looking at a completely different approach to innovation, which does not stop only at performance properties and functionalities of material or a technology.

We’re looking at the entire spectrum of criteria that are crucial to bring that technology from ideation, all the way into commercial availability. 

There’s no point in having the perfect technology, the most sustainable technology, if nobody then uses it. 

And this is why it’s crucial for us to bring technologies from early development all the way to commercialisation. That’s really the only way that you can have positive impact on the environment. 

The convergence of data for impact

What we’re doing is we are cross matching client briefs or client datasets with patent data and potentially unpublished technologies.

But what we do on top of that, is we overlay a series of others datasets such as environmental and sustainability criteria, consumer acceptance data, material science parameters, and economic and commercial criteria that all help us to inform our decisions. 

So we’re essentially looking at the entire value chain of innovation. We’re combining datasets to assess a technology across their entire lifespan, such that it has the highest chance of making it to market. 

On adopting a holistic approach to data

Let’s take the example that we we found the best performing plastic in the world. It has the perfect functionalities: it fits perfectly, will store your ground coffee that we refer to previously for 24 months or 36 months, it’s just a fantastic product.

And maybe it ticks the box from a sustainability perspective because it has  the lowest carbon footprint in the market. But if we look at current market conditions, plastic has a very bad reputation with consumers.

So who are the end consumers, would they buy? 

We really need to take a very holistic approach to innovation, to make sure that it is the right material, it has the right functionalities and is also then used for the purpose it was intended to at scale. 

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What impact is IP data having on sustainable developments?

Being able to extract insights from disparate datasets really gives you an edge in being able to get significant insights.

For us at one.five, IP was the starting point of our technology searches because they offered a great balance in terms of having a consistently structured data set with the right level of conviction to the technology. Very few people, I believe, would patent that technology and invest the capital behind it if there wasn’t some level of acceptance that the technology is valid.

But on the flip side, we’re also facing the fact that they’re often written in a way to protect a technology rather than divulge. And this is where I think Cipher came in and helped me and one.five.

On becoming friends with patents

My background, as you could tell from before, I essentially had very little knowledge of patents. In fact, I was actually quite scared of patents in the first place. My only previous experience was trying to submit a patent throughout my PhD with my supervisor and I found patents scary.

So the reason why I picked Cipher in the first place was it gave me as an IP amateur the ability to delve into the world of patterns, then really democratise IP, the IP world is simplified and it removed its complexity.

We use Cipher because we wanted to look at the entire ecosystem of relevant patents first and then mix and match those that made the most sense so that we can create the whole, out of small components. 

Now I think I’m fairly confident in reading a patent and the fear has gone away.

On what the future holds

The packaging industry is undergoing heavy disruption and there are strong winds of change coming from all directions.

For starters, there is a strong push from legislators. The EU has been leading the charge here with the single-use plastic directive and other laws that are very stringent and pushing for change in the industry. There’s also increased investment going into the space, due to the increased consumer attention to the issue.

And as we were saying before, despite the industry claims, the holy grail currently in sustainable packaging doesn’t currently exist. So we need to act now, we need to have a solution now or tomorrow.

So I think it is the healthy and open collaboration between startups and incumbents that really will lead the path, and the fact that there is also push from legislation means that brands are already more open, or at least they’re forced to be open to have that conversation or take that risk. And what we are trying to offer is a way to minimise that risk and to make it a lot more palatable from a business perspective.

We may be lucky enough to find this incredible innovation, the perfect sustainable packaging. And you may not see it, but my fingers are crossed under the table, just in case we find it.

But at the same time, we want to make at the very least, the packaging of tomorrow better than the one that we had yesterday.

Greg’s Key Takeaway

My first takeaway, I think, from a personal perspective is that it’s a myth that patents are only the domain of patent experts, at least for the purpose of identifying novel technologies.

The second one for me is the power of combining datasets, even simple and publicly available ones. Patents and patent data are definitely crucial and the starting point to scout for innovation.

But to fully harness their potential at scale, they need to be combined with other datasets including sustainability criteria. And this is especially true for an industry in its infancy, such as sustainable packaging.

Nigel’s Key Takeaway

If the earth’s temperature rises beyond one.five degrees, this will result in drought, famine, species extinctions, and loss of habitable land  and throw more than 100 million people into poverty.

The challenge to find solutions has led to new approaches of the type explained by Greg at one.five.

Those approaches embrace the insight that can be unleashed by aggregating and interrogating multiple datasets, including patent data, to find opportunities that are beyond the business models of major corporations.

Finding solutions to sustainable packaging is tough. If it was easy, they would have been implemented already. You need to think differently and have the ability and commitment to execute.

In a world where there is criticism directed at those who only talk green, the credit should only go to those who make it happen. Thank you Greg for providing this capacity for change, and for the conversation.

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