Knowledge & News

IP has a crucial role to play in facilitating growth

22 August 2018

This article first appeared in The Scotsman.

Intellectual property (IP) is undoubtedly a major consideration for companies working across such dynamic, fast-moving sectors as physics, technology, and other related sectors.

IP needs are ever-changing and considerations will constantly evolve over a business cycle, but one aspect remains the same – it has a crucial role to play in facilitating growth.

Alongside skilled people, essential know-how, and of course brilliant ideas, IP is key to ensuring that the efforts put into research and development benefit those who create it.

That is the central message behind a new event taking place at the University of Edinburgh’s Informatics Forum on 20 September.

Entitled ‘Journeys in Intellectual Property: Perspectives from Physics and Technology’ and organised by the Institute of Physics Business Innovation and Growth Group, it is the only event of its kind in Scotland and represents a first for Edinburgh.

I’m delighted to say that it has been set up in collaboration with Marks & Clerk, and we will have a great, diverse line-up of speakers on hand.

The event will provide delegates with IP advice and strategic direction, much of it derived from direct experience. In other words, practical warts and all insights that can be usefully applied to their own situations.

The speakers will be sharing their own unique perspectives by reflecting on where things have gone well for them and conversely where they may have chosen a different approach in retrospect – it will all represent valuable learnings for anyone who’s looking to effectively secure their own IP.

If your company is just starting to think about intellectual property, then this event could be particularly worthwhile in terms of gaining an understanding of the different strategic models which you could adopt, and how your approach might be varied in the long-term as business or academic needs change over time.

With a variety of speakers taking to the stage, experiences will be personalised and really brought to life, with unforeseen issues identified and potential solutions broached.

For instance, one of our speakers will be drawn from university researchers EPSRC Proteus IRC. In their sphere, academics are always keen to publish papers, but the need to publish needs to be balanced with effective IP protection. There can be conflicting demands and it will be enlightening to hear their thoughts on how they manage them.

Leading tech firm pureLiFi will meanwhile be outlining the approach to building a strong IP portfolio when they are very much in the growth stage. Another of our speakers, Canon Medical, are in the maturity stage – they have a large volume of patents and continue to file as they innovate – and so we think that these significantly varying IP perspectives will make for an illuminating discussion.

Of course, as the event title suggests, we will also be looking closely at the relationship between IP and physics. Local institutions like Edinburgh University, the University of St Andrews, Strathclyde University and Heriot-Watt University are incredible breeding grounds for physics-based spinouts and IP is undoubtedly one of their greatest assets when first looking to start out in business.

Physicists can end up in a wide variety of careers, be it software developer or nuclear engineer. The Institute of Physics (IOP) represents physics in all its variety, both in academia and in industry. I’ve been a member of the IOP for 20 years and I’ve been involved in a variety of local and national activities and committees over the years, so the opportunity to put on an event like this with the IOP was genuinely exciting for me. The Business Innovation and Growth Group is still quite new, and I’m looking forward to see how it expands the IOP’s offering to IOP members working in industry.

If it achieves its aims, then the event on 20 September will represent a fantastic platform and discussion forum that we hope to build on in future.

So whether you’re only just starting to consider IP, or you’re experienced and want to make sure you’ve got your finger on the pulse, it could well be worth attending this new event.


Kate Adamson

Kate Adamson Associate Edinburgh (UK) Chartered (UK) and European Patent Attorney

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