We were lucky to have a quick chat with CEO of M Squared, Dr Graeme Malcolm, who shared his insights into growing a successful IP-rich business. M Squared, a photonics and quantum technology company, was the front-runner in the 2017 IP League Table, having demonstrated exceptional awareness and management of intellectual property within its business.
MP: Can you tell us a bit about how M Squared began?
GM: My Co-founder and I had previously grown a laser business and sold it to a large Silicon Valley company. We stayed on for a while and grew that business which specialised in making lasers for microelectronic manufacturing. We decided that whilst most of the laser industry was concentrating in that application that new innovative forms of lasers would be able to create solutions to a wide range of societal problems in areas including biomedical imaging, threat detection, environmental monitoring plus game changing new areas like Quantum Technologies which is going to create a new technological revolution in computing and sensing.
MP: What was your biggest challenge when growing the company?
GM: Getting the blend of technical and commercial skills in the team. When an area is deeply technical you need to be able to have a commercial team that understands the technologies and works well with the engineering teams. That’s tough when you are working in quantum physics and deeply technical applications.
MP: What were the most crucial things that you did to grow your business?
GM: We took an investment from Business Growth Fund 4 years ago to allow us to create a factory for advanced laser technologies and to establish sales and marketing in the US market. Now we are 5 times higher in revenue and sell 60% to the US.
MP: Can you give us one piece of advice that you could give to a company that is looking to scale up?
GM: Growth is a volunteer sport! Make sure everyone that joins the team wants to be part of a growth journey…it can be challenging and unrelenting so everyone needs to be passionate about wanting to build a great company.
MP: What does the future hold for M Squared?
GM: Quantum, Life Sciences and Chemical sensing are our key areas of growth and we are seeing huge new applications open up…in quantum on sensing and computing…in life sciences in neuroscience imaging and in environmental monitoring in chemical sensing. Each of these helps us keep growing and expanding.
MP: How has IP100 helped you?
GM: IP100 has created a great measuring stick for IP intensive businesses. Companies and investors aspire to IP within high growth companies but there has been no external measure of this until IP100. As a deep science business being No 1 on the IP100 has allowed M Squared to demonstrate our position within the UK Innovation ecosystem and gives recognition of the scale and strategic richness of our IP creation and commercialisation activities.