Richard Gibbs: Innovators must be able to access the right resources at the right time

Richard Gibbs is a a Chartered (UK) and European Patent Attorney, Marks & Clerk
Richard Gibbs is a a Chartered (UK) and European Patent Attorney, Marks & Clerk
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It goes without saying that the chemicals industry is incredibly important for Scotland.

The country is home to more than 200 chemical companies employing some 10,000 people supporting sectors including manufacturing, medicine, energy and more. The economic impact of this innovative and world leading sector is substantial.

It’s therefore vital that the support available to those operating in the sector is understood and accessible.

Marks & Clerk wants to play its part in helping the sector thrive and just last week I was proud to host an event in Grangemouth which brought together experts from that support network.

Representatives from within the IP, legal and financial fields and public and professional funding bodies were on hand to provide advice to delegates from across the chemical sciences sector.

Joining Marks & Clerk were experts from the Royal Society of Chemistry, Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise, Burness Paull and Campbell Dallas, all of whom took centre stage to impart their wisdom.

It attracted a real mix of delegates, with universities and companies of various sizes in attendance, all keen to seek guidance on navigating the commercial landscape of the sector.

There is an incredible amount of support out there for companies whether they’re looking for funding, exploring the prospect of a collaboration, considering licensing or even preparing for sale.

Very large companies will often have the advantage of this type of support in-house and accessing legal or IP advice might be as easy as walking down the corridor.

But for smaller companies it’s not that simple. Running a micro entity means you simply don’t have that luxury and everything you do is cost sensitive.

Yet it’s those micro entities that get me especially excited and they represent one of the most interesting aspects of the job.

The individuals who run them are an inspiration and I never know what they’re going to come through the door with, but in many cases their technology has been carefully researched, is innovative, disruptive and ready to make a difference.

To top it off they are passionate about their ideas and committed to driving them forward and investing the necessary research and development time.

That’s why it’s so important to ensure innovators get access to the right resources at the right time.

Attendees were keen to better understand how you formulate collaboration agreements, determine ownership of IP and also expand research into valuable IP portfolios.

Scottish Enterprise’s presentation stimulated an interesting debate on the value of IP audits, with one delegate admitting that were it not for the audit scheme, those “grey areas” within their IP portfolio may never had received attention.

Yet this is incredibly common – most audits reveal something that might have been done differently or better or additional IP opportunities that may not have been fully recognised. They also play a vital role in exposing those IP weak points which third parties might exploit

Such was the success of last week’s gathering of experts that we want to replicate this in other Scottish locations.

The Central Belt is just one innovation hotspot and there are many more, not just in chemical sciences but life science in general.

We plan to roll out similar events throughout the country, from the Highlands and Islands to the Borders, to ensure there is widespread knowledge of the support that’s out there.

Richard Gibbs is a a Chartered (UK) and European Patent Attorney, Marks & Clerk