Nessa Carey and Phil Clare (University of Oxford) travelled to Shanghai in July to deliver the first training block for a cohort of Chinese professionals, in a new programme which will see PraxisUnico deliver an entire curriculum over the course of a year. The group of 20 trainees includes IP lawyers, patent agents, university and private sector KEC specialists and representatives from science parks and incubators.
We will work with this cohort of trainees for a total of 12 contact days, complemented by ongoing assignments and online support, mainly through the We Chat platform which is hugely popular in China. The first training block focussed on innovation and intellectual property. Later blocks will focus on valuations; business plans; financial planning and building an investment case; contracts; negotiation.
This intensive cohort training has been supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as part of the Strategic Prosperity Fund for China and by the Shanghai Technology Transfer and Exchange (STTE). We were delighted that Mr Tim Standbrook, Consul for Science & Innovation at British Consulate-General Shanghai was able to open the event, and he emphasised the importance the UK places on strong business relationships with China. This is especially relevant in 2015 as the President of The People’s Republic of China, Mr Xi Jinping, will be making a state visit to the UK later this year.
The training was highly interactive and the trainees embraced this with great enthusiasm. This helped the trainers to develop a better understanding of some of the differences in the Chinese ecosystem compared with the UK. It’s probably fair to say that in the past the emphasis in China was on filing patents, but there is a definite shift now to a more nuanced approach focussed on the ultimate commercial opportunity rather than on the IP per se. There was also a lot of interest in the models of open innovation, particularly some of the more unusual pre-competitive IP-free consortia. The best ways for academia and industry to interact are evolving in China, as they are elsewhere. The Lambert toolkit was a hot topic, and we had arranged for a Chinese IP lawyer to deliver a session on how this could potentially work in China. This is part of another FCO-funded programme looking at international dissemination of the Lambert model, and the lawyer will return in the final training block to describe to the group how he believes it can be adapted for the Chinese environment.
Nessa Carey also visited Shenzhen, to give a talk on international collaboration and to discuss other potential business opportunities. Shenzhen has grown in just 35 years from a tiny town to a city of 13 million inhabitants, with amazing strengths in ICT. Shanghai has 21 million inhabitants and Beijing over 21 million. That’s almost the population of the UK right there, just in three cities. The Chinese government has invested in a wonderful new building in Shenzhen to house the South China Technology Transfer Centre. A similar centre has been established in northern China. It’s clear that the entire KEC agenda is being increasingly recognised and supported. The issue now is to support the development of a community of highly skilled well-networked professionals and the sheer scale of the country is making this challenging. We’re very proud that PraxisUnico is there to spread best practise from the UK’s fabulous track record in KEC, and to give some support for our Chinese colleagues.