Infant patent data visualisation

The latest Scanning the Horizon report from High-Value Nutrition examines the patent landscape for potential foods in Infant Health, a key Challenge research theme.

The report says there has been a massive explosion in the patent landscape for gut microbiome targeted infant nutrition health over the past 15 years. Using software modelling the report suggests a more modest, but continued growth in patent filings ahead, mirroring the commercial and health opportunities available. The patent landscape report supports High-Value Nutrition’s decision to focus research on Infant Nutrition.

Overall, the driving force behind the patent growth for Infant Nutrition has been through global giants Nestle, Nutricia, Abbott and Mead Johnson with the greatest growth centred around prebiotics for immune health outcomes, especially through the use of synthetic human oligosaccharides (HMOs) where the major players Nestle and Abbott have focused their attention over the past five years.

Probiotic-based patents are steady but have seen essentially little to no growth year on year. There has been a slight increase in synbiotic-based patents in the past three years indicating more synbiotic-based product launches in the near future. The patent landscape has highlighted about 150 patents that may have possible relevance and usefulness to high-value nutrition research on local foods: kumara, milk, kiwifruit, feijoa or honey.

  • 15 patents in this Infant Nutrition landscape relate specifically to respiratory health
  • 182 patents have been filed or granted in China indicating it is an important commercial jurisdiction for Infant Nutrition companies. This is in comparison to only 39 current patents in NZ, which nonetheless still need to be considered to assess freedom to operate risks.

Disappointingly, New Zealand companies and universities are essentially absent in the “Inner Ring” of the Infant Nutrition landscape, with only 1 patent family owned by a2 Milk Company Ltd. This highlights that New Zealand may not be particularly patent savvy, and/or we are behind many other countries in terms of scientific development in this space, highlighting the need for the High-Value Nutrition research platform.

Three case studies are provided around a recent launch of Prebiotic Honey (Case study #1) , a university spin-out Evolve Biosystems successfully defending its Infant Nutrition patent against Danone (Case study #2) and the breakthrough development of infant formulas with HMOs (Case study #3). These case studies give valuable insights into how HVN and its industry / academic partners should consider strategically using patents to protect its competitive advantage once developed. The report is available now for subscribers to The Knowledge, the Challenge resource hub. Click if you would like to subscribe.