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Centrica’s IP director talks 4IR and more

Ahead of IAM’s IPBC Europe 2019 (27 to 28 March, Paris), we spoke to Charles Clark, Director, IP, Centrica who shared some interesting insights ahead of what is going to be a great event.

Can you describe your role at Centrica?
Charles Clark – IPBC Europe 2019

Centrica is in an interesting place right now, as the company pivots from being a pure energy supplier to one that offers technology to help solve customers’ energy needs. As such, IP is relatively new concept in the business. I report into the chief technology officer (also a new role in Centrica) and I was his second hire after he joined in 2016. His team now includes 40+ people in various professional roles at a group level, supporting the business units’ activities, with plans to grow to 60+ this year. The role is challenging and satisfying, as we work in a cross-functional way to help improve understanding of the value of IP and how IP can enhance the overall strategy.

In the era of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), European companies are faced with exciting opportunities, but also significant IP challenges. How is Centrica preparing?

Big Data, AI, machine learning and data science are everyday generic words used in the business units. We’re embracing these new technologies to help us help our customers. IP is a challenge in some of these areas, but we like to be bold and take acceptable risks, working in collaboration with external service providers and patent offices to achieve our goals.

How much can IP managers operating in businesses in different industries learn from each other?

Diversity of ideas is a massive help to me in my role. I sit on a panel of UK patent managers who meet every six months or so to discuss and exchange ideas to help solve common challenges. The other people in this group are from many different sectors but we face common challenges – budget, recruiting, reporting up, changes in the law etc.

How does IPBC Europe help to facilitate IP value creation discussions?

I always come away having met someone new and interesting, but also people I’ve known for a long time now. My network is important and IPBC is vital to facilitate that.

Charles will be sharing further insight and experience on IP strategies for the 4IR at IPBC Europe in Paris next month and will be joined in discussion by fellow panellists Laura Gisler, Associate IP Counsel, Volvo Cars Corporation; and Chris Storm, Legal Director, Emerging Technologies, Uber. Have you secured your place yet?

Time is running out, there is just one month to go! You can find out more about the event here and register your attendance here.


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