6 November 2018

Venner Shipley hosts its first Grant Funding and IP Masterclass

When seeking investment, companies can expect to be asked about their Intellectual Property (IP) position. Indeed, one of the first questions from a potential investor is often: “What steps have you taken to protect your IP?”. The answer to this question can often have a significant bearing on the investor’s decision. Investors generally like to see that a company has at least considered its IP and the options available for protecting it. The process of securing IP protection usually begins at an early stage and will frequently pre-empt or run alongside any grant applications. Furthermore, companies may often hope to rely upon any investment to at least partially fund the process of protecting their IP. Thus, securing grant funding and IP protection often go hand-in-hand.

Venner Shipley recently held, in collaboration with Granted Consultancy, its first Grant Funding and IP Masterclass. The Masterclass included presentations from Venner Shipley, Granted Consultancy, Innovate UK and Flint Engineering. It was attended by investors, start-ups and SMEs and was aimed at providing an overview of the relationship between grant funding and IP rights and the types of grant funding available.

The Masterclass began with a presentation relating to IP strategy and funding from Venner Shipley Senior Associate, Tom Leanse. Tom provided a guide to the timescales for obtaining patent and trademark protection, including the expected costs for each step, and an overview of some of the IP-specific incentives provided by the UK government for protecting IP. These included R&D tax credits, Patent Box and the UK Intellectual Property Office’s “IP Audits Plus” scheme, which is a programme that is partially funded by the UK Intellectual Property Office and involves a review of a business’s IP undertaken by an IP firm.

Tom also highlighted some of the ways in which IP rights can be harnessed as commercial tools to add value to a business. For example, IP can be licenced or sold, thereby generating a relatively quick return, or leveraged to attract further investment or collaborators.

Next, Tom Fiddian of Innovate UK delivered a summary of how Innovate UK help businesses by providing funding for innovations, connecting companies and supporting commercialisation. For every £1 invested by Innovate UK, an average of £7.30 is returned back to the UK economy. Thus, Innovate UK’s funding is clearly effective! Tom provided an overview of the how the grant process operates, as well as how grant applications are judged and some tips for being successful in the application process.

Stephen Lester, CEO of Flint Engineering, then gave an insight into his experience of obtaining grant funding. Flint Engineering can be seen as a success story of the grant funding process, having been awarded numerous grants. Stephen underlined the importance of ensuring that grant applicants have thoroughly considered their IP position, and where possible and relevant applied for IP protection, before applying for grant funding. He also provided some excellent tips on how businesses can improve their chances of successfully obtaining grant funding. These ranged from the importance of ensuring that grant applications are completed accurately and filed on time to making sure that financial projections are met and delivery deadlines are achieved.

The final presentation of the morning was delivered by Alex Chalkley and Tom Kennard of Granted Consultancy, who provide assistance securing R&D funding, including historical innovation spending (for example, R&D tax credits) and future spending (for example, grant funding). As well as discussing the processes for applying for grants from Innovate UK and the EU Commission-led Horizon 2020 grant programme, Alex and Tom introduced other, relatively new, types of R&D funding, such as innovation loans and investment accelerators.

After the presentations, the attendees had a chance to network and have one-to-one discussions with the experts from Venner Shipley, Granted Consultancy and Innovate UK.

In summary, the Masterclass proved to be a very useful and informative event for all who attended. Venner Shipley plans to hold a similar event in the future.

Please contact Tom Leanse if you have any further questions or would like to attend future events in our masterclass series.