Established in 1999 in Singapore, AJA Enterprises first began as a distributor for silicone sealants and aluminium cladding, before entering the specialised field of blast mitigation systems in the early-2000s. Blast mitigation is an effective process of preventing and reducing injuries and structural damages on building facades, curtain walls and large glass panels from explosion’s threats. Today, AJA is Asia’s forefront protective engineering company specialising in the design, engineering and integrated installation of blast mitigation solutions, providing clients a comprehensive service chain of R&D, blast simulation, engineering customisation, aesthetics and structural adaptation, and post-sales consultation.
With a track record of more than 500,000 square feet of blast-mitigated installations, a host of iconic government and institutional buildings in Singapore are protected by AJA’s solutions and systems. These include the recently opened Interpol Global Complex, National Gallery Singapore (formerly Singapore’s Supreme Court & City Hall) and Changi Prison Headquarters Complex.
Having established itself as a key player in Singapore, AJA now aspires to be the industry marker by putting their technology footprints onto the world map. To do this, AJA had to change their approach in managing its intellectual property (IP) and adopt an integrated and holistic IP strategy aligned with its business goals. The shift in approach required addressing critical IP issues such as closing gaps in IP management, finding new ways to exploit its IP assets and re-positioning its value proposition from specialist contracting to providing technology and engineering capabilities.
AJA began the whole IP exercise by engaging an established IP Consultant to work with them in developing an integrated and holistic IP strategy. The key measures taken to establishing such a strategy were:
(1) Managing IP
Firstly, an assessment of the IP portfolio, processes and practices of AJA was conducted. The Company was able to identify improvement areas such as managing its Innovation Process and IP Portfolio better. This exercise also helped the Company discover IP assets key to their business model residing in categories such as copyright, registered design, patent and trademark. Such identified IP assets would ultimately lay the foundation for leveraging and harnessing IP for business expansion eventually.
A Technology Scan was also undertaken to help the Company gain a clearer understanding of the current blast mitigation technology landscape and identify existing patented technologies and available patenting opportunities.
(2) Protecting IP
Next, AJA took the required steps to protect its newly identified IP assets. The company filed for its flagship patent with IPOS to secure its rights in its proprietary Energy Absorption Mullion (EAM) technology. The company also proceeded to file for its AJA and ENERZORB trademarks and its Mullion Frame registered design in target markets.
(3) Leveraging on IP for Business Growth
AJA established an integrated approach to leveraging on its IP.Firstly, a Technology Licensing Programme was developed for the Company to strategically grant IP rights and transfer technology know-how to overseas licensees. These licensees would market and install AJA’s blast mitigation products in targeted overseas markets.
Secondly, AJA embarked on a Brand Development project. Besides working with the IP Consultant to reposition itself as a protective technology specialist, the product brand for its blast mitigation technology “ENERZORB” was also birthed.
Furthermore, supported by a compelling branding strategy, carefully crafted brand collaterals and brand communications plans were developed to raise awareness of the company and its ENERZORB range of Blast Mitigation systems. AJA was therefore able to market and position its products and capabilities more effectively, and project itself as a responsible, principled, innovative and empowering brand.
“The ENERZORB brand represents blast mitigation systems, components and products that are among the best in the world used in key institutions and buildings. Its product offerings are technologically innovative and are tested and certified to required industry’s standards. It equips architects, developers and specialist consultants with the ability to deliver blast mitigation solutions that help to optimise a building’s desired form and function.”
– Angela Toh, Founder and Inventor
By adopting an integrated and holistic IP strategy, AJA was able to better harness the synergy of its entire IP portfolio and leverage on its pool of IP assets for business growth:
1. Commercialising Your IP Portfolio. AJA’s Technology Licensing Programme now offers opportunities for licensees to tap on AJA’s expertise to market and install AJA’s products in overseas markets. The licensing programme also allowed AJA to scale worldwide without high capital requirements, and facilitated the empowerment of licensees while enabling the company to retain control of proprietary IP assets and know-how.
2. Branding. The branding exercise enabled AJA to map out a strategic brand blueprint with clear brand communication objectives for its Blast Mitigation business. The engineered launch of ENERZORB at the recent Interpol World 2015 Singapore Trade Show generated positive interest from the press and numerous international players.
3. Change your mindset. Within the Company, a mindset change was also kick-started as part of AJA’s move away from being a specialist contractor to technology owner. Employees played an important role in this shift and it was critical that they understood the importance of IP. To align employees’ interest to that of the company, the key role IP plays in the organisation was internalized through the development and implementation of clear policies, procedures and incentives relating to IP.