27 April 2021

Taking your Ideas to Market in Wales

The Atrium of the Menai Science Park
© 2019 Jane Lambert: all rights reserved


Jane Lambert

Yesterday I chaired a webinar organized by the Menai Science Park entitled IP and SME, Taking your Ideas to Market in Wales (see Menai Science Park's Contribution to World IP Day 2021 25 April 2021 NIPC Wales).  I have been taking part in events like that for some 20 years but yesterday's was the best ever.  The seminar covered a lot of topics in 100 minutes but there are two important takeaways.  One is that Wales provides support to new businesses that is no longer available in England.  The other is that Inngot Limited provides a range of tools for valuing intellectual assets even when those assets are at an early stage of development.

One of the big differences between business support in Wales and England is that the Welsh government continues to support business centrally through an agency called Business Wales.   Business Wales describes itself as

"a free service that provides impartial, independent support and advice to people starting, running and growing a business in Wales. With regional centres across Wales, we offer a mixture of online and face-to-face support, as well as training workshops and individual advice."

To English eyes, that seems to be very much the sort of thing that the regional development agencies and Business Link did before their abolition and replacement by local enterprise partnerships.  

Yesterday we heard a presentation by David Wooldridge who is the Intellectual Property Manager of the Welsh Goverbment['s Innovation Team in Swansea.  According to Business Wales's Funding page

"Funding is available for all phases of a research and development, from initial feasibility to market exploitation:
  • Technical and Commercial Feasibility - help to assess whether your idea is technically and commercially viable.
  • Industrial Research - help for practical research and to develop basic working models.
  • Experimental Development - use the results of the industrial research to produce a pre-production prototype.
  • Exploitation - help with the costs of launching your new product/process on the market."

These include innovation vouchers to

  • "fund capital equipment that supports a technology step-change
  • bring in technical consultancy expertise from the private sector
  • work with universities and colleges to help solve technical problems
  • improve processes in design and manufacturing
  • access expertise services for intellectual property (IP) registration."

A service that appears to support new businesses is Expertise Wales which describes itself as 

"The online resource for driving collaboration and innovation in Wales."

One of Expertise Wales's services is SMARTCymru.  Another is the Small Business Research Initiative.  There appear to be many more.   I am indebted to Richard Fraser-Williams, Growth Relationship Manager at Business Wales for putting me in touch with David Wooldridge.

Richard also told me that many entrepreneurs require a guide to navigate the various funding schemes and he referred me to BIC Innovation.   It is a company that I have known for many years and with which I have collaborated.    Mark McGowan of BIC Innovation explained how he and his colleagues assisted businesses to seek funding not only from the Welsh government but also from business angels and venture capitalists.  Businesses that are not already in Wales would be very well advised to consult someone like Mark before opening up there.

Like the Welsh Government's Innovation Team. Inngot is based in Swansea.  One of its founders is Iwan Davies who held the Sir Julian Hodge Chair of Law at Swansea University and is now Vice-Chancellor at Bangor.  He is a distinguished academic lawyer with expertise in both asset finance and intellectual property.  For several years, Swansea law school hosted the IP Wales/ED Cymru website which was an excellent resource on intellectual property law.  Yesterday's presentation on IP valuation was given by Alison Orr who is Inngot's Business Development Manager.   According to Inngot's website

"Alison leads many of Inngot’s IP audits and technology evaluations, and provides her expertise to clients requiring training and coaching on IP, assistance with technology scouting, and help exploiting their IP in international markets. She has also helped shape Inngot’s intangible asset identification tools."

 Alison introduced her audience to Inngot'ss services and focused on the valuation of intellectual assets of startups and other small companies.  Obtaining such a valuation right at the start could avid a lot of the personal tragedies that I have witnessed in my career at the bar.   It could also assist a business to obtain the right sort of funding and thus secure its future.   It goes without saying that Inngot offers its services to entrepreneurs, business owners and investors everywhere and not just in Wales.  

Any business not already in Wales that is contemplating a move or expansion there would do well to consider the Menai Science Park or at least the immediate area because the park already hosts a lot of experts.  BIC Innovation is there as is Andrea Knox of Knox Commercial Solicitors and Steve Livingston of IP Tax Solutions.  Both gave excellent presentations yesterday.   Like Alison and Mark, they can be consulted by anyone anywhere and they are also first-class professional advisors.

Anyone thinking of doing business in Wales should find useful material on my IP Wales website at www.nipcwales.co.uk.  Contact me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or through my contact page if you want to discuss this article or any of the matters mentioned in it

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