Last Friday at the 13th Annual Awards Gala, Automation Alley — a technology business association based in Troy, Michigan — awarded its prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award to Bill Coughlin, CEO of Ford Global Technologies. In his role at the Ford Motor Company subsidiary, Coughlin is responsible for protecting and leveraging intellectual property for the automaker and its subsidiaries on a global basis. He hopes that the recognition “will inspire other Ford employees to think like entrepreneurs to help not only their company, but their communities as well.”
Outside of his function at The Blue Oval, Coughlin is also a member of the board of directors for the Intellectual Property Owners Association and an adjunct professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he teaches e-commerce law and trade secret law.
The Awards Gala is widely considered to be the region’s most prestigious event recognizing technology organizations and their leaders with the purpose of celebrating the accomplishments and continued growth of the individuals and companies moving Southeast Michigan’s technology economy forward. The award winners were selected through a public online vote “and exemplify the best among the region’s technology community”, according to the organization.
“A renaissance is coming in Southeast Michigan and in the state”, said Automation Alley Executive Director Ken Rogers. “As someone who’s been part of the business community here for more than 50 years, I can say that there’s an energy and a confidence in this region driven by an economy on the rebound. At Automation Alley, we believe that energy will continue to grow into something great. Thank you for being a part of it.”
Before joining Ford, Ford’s Coughlin served as the chief intellectual property lawyer for DaimlerChrysler, and prior to joining Chrysler, he was a partner at Harness, Dickey & Pierce.
The Motrolix Take
In a business that thrives on research and innovation — aspects around which Ford is building its future, the process of developing creative technology needs to be accompanied by adequate protection from theft and misuse. Then, said technology needs to proliferate across the vehicle lineup to create a competitive advantage that (externally) creates customer delight and (internally) leads to economies of scale to deploy said technology profitably. In that regard, the role carried out by Coughlin isn’t one that often finds itself in the media’s limelight, but that doesn’t make its importance any less vital.