Monday, 28 April 2008

Money to spend on innovation?

UK-IPO e-zine IP Insight reports that, over the next three years, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) in the UK will have £1bn to spend on accelerating business innovation. The TSB is an executive non-departmental public body, established in 2007 and sponsored by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). I think this is what used to be called a quango. Can someone please advise?

Anyway, in this article the TSB Director of strategy Allyson Reed discusses how high-growth enterprises and intellectual property fit into her plans. She explains that the TSB "lies at the juncture of government, public research, corporations and enterprises". Significantly, any projects that fall within its brief "will be run on a collaborative basis with the TSB matching any funding from its partners in government, research and commerce". The article concludes:
"In helping to make growth projects happen, the TSB is not looking to take any IP itself. ‘The consortium owns it. How they develop it is up to them. We are investing where we can make a difference and where there is a return for the UK’".
A billion pounds over three years sounds great, particularly from a backer that doesn't seek any IP rights in return. But there are at least a couple of things to think about:
* How easy will it be for potential applicants for funding and support to fill in the forms and satisfy the formal criteria? If at the end of three years much of the sum set aside remains unallocated, we may have an answer to those questions.

* Are there any hidden issues of EU competition law? The Commission is not notably fond of state subsidies in supposedly open commercial sectors?

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