New guide for Universities to manage Intellectual Property

The new guide provides advice and information to universities to help them understand how they can best use their institution's Intellectual Property. This can be an invention, trade mark, original design or the application of a good idea.

Income generated through the commercial use of Intellectual Property rights can be worth millions of pounds. In 2009/10 £84 million was generated directly from IP at Universities.

Launching the guide, Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said:

"The guide will help Universities maximise the benefits of their intellectual assets, which in turn will support the economic growth of the UK. The Government is committed to providing the best opportunities for young inventors, providing them with a strong basis on which they can turn their ideas in reality.

"It is now more important than ever for University leaders to think strategically about how to best to protect and effectively use their intellectual assets. This guide will help each institution seize the opportunity to use their Intellectual Property to secure maximum benefit for the economy and society."

One example of an institution which demonstrates how effective policies can underpin the commercialisation of intellectual property is Cardiff University, which has generated around £7 million in licence fees and royalties over the last five years through implementing its Innovation and Engagement Strategy. The University's research has been developed into a number of commercial ventures such as MedaPhor Limited, an ultrasound simulation business which specialises in the development and sale of advanced virtual ultrasound training systems for the healthcare service.

Since 2004 MedaPhor has benefited from over £1.3 million of investment and new product development grants. It has also created more than 40 high tech jobs in the local area. Its ScanTrainer which provides fast and effective ultrasound training has now been sold to 11 hospitals and academic institutions in the UK. The company is now expanding its distribution to Europe, the US, the Far East and the Gulf.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: "Universities UK has been pleased to work with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on this new guide which will be an invaluable resource for vice-chancellors and senior managers in universities.

"We hope that the guide will be a practical tool in helping universities to refine their IP strategies to maximise the benefits they gain from the intellectual assets created by their staff and students."

Dr Philip Graham, Executive Director for the Association for University Research and Industry Links (AURIL) added:

"The pressure was always on knowledge transfer offices to deliver but now, in the current economic climate, that pressure has really increased.

'UK research is world class and should be put to good use, both to assist in economic development and for the social and public good. Institutions don't want to sit on IP for the sake of it and most do give away what they don't need or want.

"IP is not just about patents but the whole range of Intellectual property assets within institutions, but each one of them is different. They must decide what it is they want to achieve and put a strategy in place to deliver that. Innovation is not cut and paste and neither is an IP strategy."

Phil Clare, Chair of PraxisUnico and Associate Director of Research Services at the University of Oxford helped to write the guide. He said:

"PraxisUnico are pleased to have contributed to the development of the guide to Intellectual Asset Management. As Universities have developed ever more creative ways to increase the value they contribute to the economy and society from their research and education activities, so they need to think more deeply about their strategy for managing their intellectual assets. We hope that this guide will help institutions consider how best to invest in knowledge exchange, as this becomes an increasingly important part of their mission."

The booklet has been produced thanks to contributions from a number of partners including Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Universities UK (UUK), PraxisUnico and AURIL (the Association for University Research and Industry Links).

The new guide replaces an older version that was first produced in 2003. The guide can be found on the IPO website.

Notes to editors

Intellectual property represents the property of the mind or intellect. It can be an invention, trade mark, original design or the practical application of a good idea. For more information visit the IPO website.

  • The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is within the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) and is responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.
  • Its role is to help manage an IP system that encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users, promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the knowledge-based economy.
  • It operates in a national and an international environment and its work is governed by national and international law, including various international treaties relating to Intellectual Property (IP) to which the United Kingdom is a party
  • Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK's universities. Founded in 1918, its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, providing high quality leadership and support to its members to promote a successful and diverse higher education sector. With 133 members and offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh, it promotes the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally.
  • AURIL is the professional association representing all practitioners involved in knowledge creation, development and exchange in the UK and Ireland who work to ensure that new ideas, technologies and innovations flow from their institution into the market place.
  • PraxisUnico is an educational not-for-profit organisation set up to support innovation and commercialisation of public sector and charity research for social and economic impact.
  • For further information, please contact Dan Palmer on 0207 215 5303 or e-mail communications.

Date of release: 19 May 2011