First patent creates new opportunities

Based on their research results, Mohammad Pourbafrani, Gergely Forgacs, Ilona Sarvari Horvath and Mohammad Taherzadeh from the School of Engineering have developed an efficient refinement process. 

Mohammad Taherzadeh emphasises the importance of earning a patent for an invention and explains that it increases the interest in research for investors and companies.

- Patents give legitimacy. Patents are something outside of academic articles. Suddenly, something happens,” says Mohammad Taherzadeh.

The refinement process that the researchers have developed has an enormous potential on the international market, but there is also a local demand. Borås-based Brämhult Juice AB, for example, disposes of 1000 tonnes of citrus peels per month and can benefit greatly from the process, as it allows for companies to manage some of their own electricity and gas demands. As the researchers realised the commercial potential in the idea, they decided to get a patent before publishing the results.

Nerve-rattling and Educative Process

The patent process turned out to be a nerve-rattler. There were questions about who owned the results. The idea belonged to the researchers, but the equipment used had four different owners through a consortium. After negotiations it was decided that the ownership issue would be solved through equipment rentals.

Innovation counselor Daniel Yar Hamidi has been the university’s proxy for the patent process, and is one of the key people in the success story.

- Patents are a way of making the research public and useful. A patent makes the research results accessible to all. It places the university’s research on the map,” he says.

Daniel Yar Hamidi tells that the process has been very educating. A patent application was a new experience to all those involved, and required patience from the Patent Office staff.

- Our personal contact at the Patent Office gave us constructive criticism all the way. Guidance and cooperation with such a competent person was truly a useful experience,” says Yar Hamidi.

Ingrid Eklund, Patent Engineer at the Patent Office, handled the case and made the decision about the invention’s uniqueness.

- My job is to ensure the quality of the patent. What made this case especially enjoyable was that the proxy has been in constant contact with the Patent Office. It is only natural that there are certain questions when it comes to the first patent, and that is the reason why we are here,” says Ingrid Eklund.

Reaching the Patent

Mohammad Taherzadeh explains that the patent increases the interest in research from investors and companies. He saw the first patent as a major personal challenge and believes that they can achieve another ten or so patents.

The most potential markets for the patented refinement process are the ones in Latin America, Central America, southern Europe and parts of Asia. Thanks to the patent, the University of Borås can enter a national and international market. That is pivotal in order to attract business and industrial partners, says Mohammad Taherzadeh.

The research ambitions of our new rector cannot be reached without patents. Without publishing, no science, and without patents, no profession. Innovation requires patents, concludes Mohammad Taherzadeh.

FACTS: The patent case goes by the name of ‘Production of multiple bi-products from solid citrus residue.’ The invention is an efficient refinement process that separates poisonous materials, which can later be collected. The research team at the School of Engineering consisted of Gergely Forgacs, Ilona Sarvari Horvath, Mohammad Pourbafrani and their research leader Mohammad Taherzadeh. It is their collected research results that form the basis for the patent, which makes them its inventors. The patent is owned by Inicia AB, as regulated through an agreement with the researchers.