It is important to remember that, as crucial and valuable as intellectual property protection is, it is not much use without a steady stream of innovation it can be applied to. Generating that innovation takes time, resources, expertise and a recognition of what social and market needs it could address. One of the things that spurs that innovation is entities with complimentary skills and resources pooling those assets and working collaboratively in a project to produce new products or technology. For example, a medical device company and a drug company might work together, perhaps drawing upon the additional expertise of an academic partner, to improve their respective products and make them work together. Working alone, neither may have had the skillset or resources to accomplish this.
Parties contemplating horizontal collaborations like these can often take advantage of grant funding under schemes on offer at a state or federal level. This “soft money”, although it inevitably comes with strings attached, is attractive because it still usually comes without the long term control of an investor or the royalty obligation and other performance criteria that one can expect from a licence. The grantor’s aim primarily is stimulate research and get the results of that research out there, not just secure its pound of flesh.
It is therefore encouraging to see that, as the UK Government announced yesterday on https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/competition/1159/overview#summary, UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million for game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy. However, they will need to get a move on as applications must be in by 27 June. Government money isn’t exactly sloshing about, in any country, at the moment and there are many other urgent calls for it so it’s great to see this long term investment in innovation being made despite the general need for belt-tightening.
Along with prosperity, another thing that seems to have been going out of fashion lately is international cooperation. It’s therefore encouraging to see that, on the other side of the Channel, talks between the European Commission on the one hand and New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and DG Research and Innovation and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) on the other, have reached a positive conclusion. As reported at https://ec.europa.eu/info/news/conclusion-exploratory-talks-association-new-zealand-and-canada-horizon-europe-towards-formal-negotiations-2022-apr-21_en, this paves the way for New Zealand and Canada to join Horizon Europe, the EU’s main R&D programme, as of next year. Both countries are a significant asset worldwide in terms of commerce, creativity and technology and their inclusion will be a real boost to international research output.
So there are at least two things to celebrate as we hang out our bunting and decorate the float (even if only metaphorically) for World IP Day.