Wales is a small nation (population 3 million) within the United Kingdom. Whereas Wales can be justifiably proud of its international contribution to the Arts (Film, Music & Poetry) and Sport (Rugby, Football) this picture of success is not replicated within the regional economy.
Over 60% of the population live in an area where the GDP is below 75% of the average for the European Union. The GDP for Wales as a region is 20% below the UK average. Investment in R&D is only 1/3rd of the UK rate. New business growth rate is too low and company failure rate too high. The Welsh Minister for Economic Development & Transport states that the solution is to create a knowledge economy for the region driven by small/medium enterprises (SMEs).
Understanding IP adds value to a regional economy in three distinct but kindred ways:
- Ignorance of IP is commercially dangerous - whereas SMEs may be ignorant of IP issues this is not to say that their competitors share this disadvantage.
- Saving of valuable resource - latest research from Thomson Derwent in the USA would suggest that up to 70% of R&D may be wasted effort, merely duplicating existing knowledge searchable within patent databases.
- Freedom to operate in the market place – ownership of IP assets can give SMEs this freedom with the added bonus of creating a tradable asset and legally enforceable monopoly.
Why IP Wales?
The IP Wales model of business support serves the needs of the regional economy by providing Welsh SMEs with the knowledge and financial means to commercialise their IP assets. The threefold mission of IP Wales is:
• Raising levels of awareness of IP issues amongst the SME community [awareness of IP assets already owned by SMEs but of which they are ignorant, awareness of IP assets SMEs do not own but thought they did and awareness of what IP assets SMEs could acquire]
• instant IP advice is made available on-line via the internet (to date over 700 SMEs have accessed this service);
• first PATLIB Centre for Wales;
• IP talks;
• IP Newsletter & PR activities (over 1200 SMEs subscribe).
• Investing in selected Welsh SMEs who are looking to grow their business through the commercial use of IP assets
• [helping SMEs to take the necessary steps to protect their IP assets] – IP Wales 50% grants have been awarded to 109 firms enabling them to protect their IP assets across all five continents. IP Wales has supported a total of 162 SME projects helping firms to acquire
• 205 Patents (UK=53; PCT=45; EP=34; US=31; CN=10 AU=5; remainder below 5);
• 60 Trade Marks (UK=23; CTM=20; US=13; remainder below 2);
• 12 Design Registrations (UK=3; US=3; CDR=2; remainder=1).
• Advising SMEs on the commercialisation of their IP assets –
IP Wales has supported 25 licensing agreements, both licensing in technology to Welsh SMEs and licensing out Welsh technologies around the World;
• IP Wales commissioned international IP commercialisation experts to conduct a major review of all funded SME projects, with the result that 22 have been identified as having excellent potential for commercialisation on an international basis.
IP Wales Research
Underpinning all IP Wales business support activities has been a vibrant multi-disciplined IP research agenda involving Law and Economics. With the financial support of the UK Patent Office the first area for research was IP Insurance and the SME. The second area of work has been an analysis of IP asset ownership in Wales, as compared with Ireland; Scotland and a comparative English region. Following a private briefing for the Welsh Economic Development Minister this work is ready for publication. The third area of activity is legal commodification of IP, as security against business loans. This work is due for publication in late 2004 and is already feeding into the work of the UK Law Commission (Registration of Security Interests 2002 LCP 164). Current work is focusing on the Legal Profession in Wales and its ability to service the needs of the emerging Welsh knowledge economy.
For further information please visit the IP Wales web site at www.ipwales.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org