Intellectual property in grant funding applications

Intellectual Property (IP) is a vital part of any innovation – and will have a key role to play in funding applications too. In fact, IP can be crucial if you’re looking to maximise the chances of a successful grant application. That’s why, if you’re making innovation-focused grant applications, you need to have a clear idea of what your IP is and how to deal with it.


What is IP?

It is essentially intangible property that is the result of creativity, whether that is artistic works, names, designs or symbols that are being used in commerce. Protecting IP allows your organisation to monetise it so that you’re able to profit from what you’ve created. Where there is no protection in place this opens up opportunities for others to profit or steal what has been created. IP can be broken down into four different types:

  1. Patents. This is the type of IP that is most closely related to grant funding. It applies to an invention that is new and inventive (novel and non-obvious).
  2. Copyright. The use of this type of IP is vital for artistic creations, such as computer programmes or code.
  3. Design Rights. This is the kind of protection that you can apply to the appearance of a product.
  4. Trademarks. Establishing trademark protection covers signs of commercial origin.


How do you know if your IP can be protected?

The first step is to check whether you have freedom-to-operate. This is essentially a check that looks at whether the IP that you want to protect is going to infringe on anything that already exists. If you don’t carry out this check then you could develop, make or market technologies or processes that trigger legal liabilities to other people as a result. The best result from a freedom-to-operate check is that it shows there are no other patents that could be infringed by what you’re hoping to do. However, it’s important to bear in mind that these searches can sometimes be inconclusive because many patent applications actually take 18 months to be published after they are filed.


How much IP information do you need to include in a grant application?

This will depend on the funding that you’re hoping to secure. For example, some funding applications have an entire section devoted to IP and a high word limit so that you can go into as much detail as possible when it comes to the protection you’re putting in place. Innovate UK applications include this in a section on the application called ‘Outcomes and route to Market.’ The word count allows for a skeleton description of the IP protection being put in place and how IP is going to be exploited.


Do you need professional support for IP in grant funding applications?

This can be a complex area that it’s important to get right. As a result, it can be beneficial to work with a partner with in-depth insight into how this should be handled.

Intellectual property is an essential detail in grant funding applications and something that can make a big difference to outcomes. If you are looking for professional support, SPRK Capital can help you with this. Get in touch – let’s progress together.

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