"We are ahead of the game and are further professionalising all the time".
A future-proof, more agile organisation with even more innovation and patent expertise, supported by IT that meets the latest standards. These are the benefits that EP&C's clients will experience thanks to the patent agency recently strengthening its Board.
CFO Marlies Mulders joined the Executive Board alongside CEO Menno Ong and Managing Partners Martijn Vermeulen and Christiaan Houben on 1 July this year. The latter replaces Hendrik Jan Brookhuis who recently stepped down. This change and the strengthening of the Board should give the growth that started earlier this year with the acquisition of patent agency IPecunia Patents a boost. It is the first time in EP&C's rich history, which spans over 80 years, that a woman has been appointed to the Board.
Cybersecurity as a priority
Marlies Mulders has been on the company's payroll for nearly three years now. Prior to that she worked for EP&C on a part-time basis as an IT consultant and interim manager. The IT backbone is now rock solid. "In 2018 EP&C was ready for IT that was more in line with today's standards and ambitions. One week after we completed this modernisation the pandemic reared its ugly head and everyone was able to work remotely both easily and securely. In recent years the IT systems have been optimised to the latest technology and security standards. Cyber security will definitely continue to be a priority that deserves all our attention in the future as well now that threats and insurance costs are only on the rise."
More and more very large clients
EP&C's backbone is now so solid that it can support an organisation one and a half times its current size. "This is perfectly in line with our growth ambitions. We are at the forefront of modern developments and are continuing to professionalise all the time. This is necessary, because more and more very large clients want to use our services. They place different demands on a patent agency in terms of agility, certification, security and so on."
Talents from other fields
On top of that the arrival of the unitary patent in 2023 is bringing about lots of changes. "The biggest change is that you will be able to start filing patents in Europe in one go. It is very important for our clients that we are ready to advise and assist them in this. But developments are moving fast in other areas too. We are addressing this by attracting talents from other fields, among other things. We have, for example, set up a high-tech team that focuses on the IP protection possibilities of software, for instance."
Employers are now applying to candidates
Being as attractive as possible as an employer is important in order to be able to shape the envisaged growth. "We employ thoroughbreds that are all-rounders. They have a technical and legal educational background, linguistic and multilingual skills, as well as an affinity with the business community and strategic market positions. These talents are scarce. This is forcing us to make adjustments to People & Organisation. We realise that nowadays it is the employer who applies to the candidate. We are now in a period where the millennials are taking on leading positions. Social developments are then naturally taking place at the same time. So there is automatically going to be more emphasis on topics such as ethical policymaking, diversity and inclusion. Everyone is allowed to join in and has a voice, personal development is important, as is work-life balance. I have a positive and progressive attitude towards all this."
EP&C and IPecunia are complementary
EP&C's growth received a boost earlier this year with the acquisition of patent agency IPecunia Patents in Sittard. "This is yet another reason for us to strengthen our Board as this takes up a lot of time and attention. We are complementary to each other and together we benefit from even more knowledge in our field, while it is also a geographical expansion. As a relatively small agency, IPecunia has much more of a start-up culture. We focus on valuing the power of that culture. EP&C has its own work and meeting patterns and structures, but we are open to each other, so that we both benefit."
Room for a different outlook
EP&C's new Board has broadly divided the tasks. Menno Ong is responsible for Business Development and IT, while Marlies Mulders is in charge of HR, Finance and Operational Affairs. Both see the fact that the Board is instantly even more diverse as a great advantage. "The fact that I am a woman and a lot younger than the other partners and directors means that I have a different, more diverse outlook. Since my appointment three years ago, I have received feedback from several women in the organisation that things have really changed. They feel that there are more development opportunities and that they can approach me in a different way than they do other colleagues. This creates room for different values and a different outlook on things at different levels in the organisation."
People and results focused
Menno Ong fully agrees with that: "Now that there are so many strategic issues, it makes sense to expand the Board and with Marlies it is also qualitatively a very good expansion. She is sociable, very much people-focused and she truly believes in the power of people who make an organisation. She wants to ensure that everyone is able to perform to the best of their ability. She is also very results-focused, structured and organised. Her idealism in the areas of diversity, inclusion, sustainability and feminism also takes shape outside her work, among other things through her administrative roles for various organisations in those areas."