Thursday 5 October 2023

UK Rejoins Horizon Europe - Implications for patent value


Earlier this month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the UK will associate to Horizon Europe and the Copernicus Earth observation programme. This association and future membership is good news for British innovators who can once more now lead collaborations with their European colleagues and obtain the necessary funding to make the next generation of scientific breakthroughs.

Horizon Europe is the ninth European Union (EU) framework programme funding research, technological development and innovation and runs between 2021 and 2027. Although a product of the EU, Horizon also includes several members outside of the Union: Israel, New Zealand and Ukraine also participate. Copernicus is an Earth observation programme managed by the European Commission (EC).  

Researchers in the UK are now able to apply for grants and bid to lead projects under the Horizon programme. Almost 100 billion is available under the programme over its lifetime, and under the previous framework – Horizon 2020 – UK researchers received about 14% of the available grants.

The UK has a particularly strong research sector, and that will only be further supported through renewed access to the Horizon programme. Private sector research and development (R&D) is worth £43 billion to the UK each year and many companies spin out of UK universities each year on the back of a great innovation; Oxford alone has generated 205 spinouts since 2011.

As UK R&D resumes its cooperation with European partners in a leadership role, careful attention should be paid to intellectual property (IP) from the outset. Translating the innovations of the lab to the marketplace where their life-changing effect can be felt requires well-informed IP strategy and an acute awareness of how IP functions as an economic asset.  

In a previous article, we discussed how IP can be utilised throughout a company’s lifecycle to raise capital (which you can read there here) but at each phase proper valuation of a company’s IP is crucial. Raising capital through IP is likely to be most important for startups and spinouts, where other assets might be limited and a financial injection is required to bring the latest breakthrough to the market. OxFirst has previously assisted a young Software as a Service (SaaS) access over £25 million in funding through a patent valuation. This patent valuation enabled the company’s value proposition to be effectively communicated to investors, persuading them to invest.

Outside of raising capital, proper management of IP is also vital for effective commercialisation of IP. Patent filings have grown at roughly 10% year on year, but evidence shows that only a fraction of that IP can be linked to commercial activity. Bridging the gap between law and economics, is important for developing an effective IP strategy that will support business growth and ensure proper IP utilisation.

A first important step is knowing where you stand: innovative companies benefit from understanding the patent landscape in which they find themselves. Patent landscape reports combine IP data with a comprehensive market understanding to generate actionable insights. These reports can assist in identifying potential partners and competitors, as well as broader trends within the landscape that can inform how the company should most effectively manage its IP.

Once opportunities have been identified, the next step for decisionmakers is to consider how their IP assets might be most effectively commercialised. One approach is licensing, and IP valuation are an important instrument to support companies commercialise their IP assets in this way. Selling IP might also be an attractive option, and IP valuations helped determine the patent prize in a patent sale.  

Knowing what and how IP can be most effectively commercialised is fundamental to a successful IP strategy, and it is only by understanding in detail the economic implications of IP management approaches that this can be realised. Whether it is raising capital, commercialisation through licensing, IP sales or IP intelligence, bringing economic evaluation to the management of IP and achieving success for innovators.







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