Christophe Saam – P&TS

They chose Neuchâtel

Engineer, patent adviser and judge. Born in Neuchâtel, worked in various Swiss cities and in Berlin before returning to settle in Neuchâtel.

P&TS: established in Neuchâtel in 1998, consultancy specialising in intellectual property. A Zurich office was opened in 2015.

 

The canton of Neuchâtel in three words? 

Innovative: we are very good at innovating, especially in fields in which we have established expertise.

Traditional: innovative, but rarely disruptive…

Quality of life : the canton is ideally located between lakes and mountains, with easy access to major cities. Historically, welcoming outsiders has long been an integral part of the local culture

 

What led you to choose Neuchâtel for your company?

The story of P&TS began in Neuchâtel in 1998. While the majority of consultancies specialised in intellectual property are located in Geneva or Zurich, Neuchâtel is a strategically located at the centre of economic hubs.

Most of our clients are based in Switzerland, near the border with France. Neuchâtel clients make up 10% of our portfolio.

 

What challenges does intellectual property pose, and what are the consequences for your company?

In 2019, we are celebrating our 20th year, the end of our adolescence. We are reflecting on our positioning because intellectual property protection has evolved considerably. In the past, intellectual property protection tended to create silos so that inventions remained confined within the company. In a world of open and collaborative innovation, the patent is seen in a different light. It becomes a currency, generating revenue for the patent-holder through the sale of licences. The role of an intellectual property firm is to set up a legal framework around the invention aimed at finding the best balance between protection and dissemination, in order to ensure that the technology is exploited to its full potential and maximise its returns.

Overall, intellectual property has become more attractive, more visible and more technological, particularly as a result of big legal battles, for example between Apple and Samsung. New entities such as start-ups and engineering schools regularly file patents nowadays.

 

What do you think of the industrial and economic dynamism in the Neuchâtel region?

The region is highly industrial, including some absolute leaders in their technological niches who are recognised for the quality of their work. We innovate incrementally in relatively traditional industrial fields, for example mechanical watchmaking, machine-tools and the electrical industry. These fields will continue to exist but they will not see the strongest growth in the future. It seems essential to me that we also invest in disruptive fields, relating to software or artificial intelligence, for example.

 

How do you imagine Neuchâtel in 10 years’ time? 

I hope that the traditional companies adjust easily to the shift to industry 4.0. It is my wish that, while remaining the champions of precision, they will be backed up by major digital industry players setting up in the canton. Finally, I imagine Neuchâtel with more start-ups.

The conditions in the canton of Neuchâtel are attractive for setting up companies. In my view, the state will have a vital role to play in education in order to train generalists and people with cross-disciplinary qualifications capable of responding effectively to the new technological and societal challenges. Moreover, the state must remain open to the world, so that talented people will continue to want to come to our region. In the end, it is people who drive innovation.

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