Funding for SMEs

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) is currently offering qualifying small and medium-sized businesses grants towards the cost of various IP services.

The IP Audits Plus scheme enables SMEs to have a heavily subsidized IP audit carried out by an IP professional, while the IP Access funding scheme is intended to help businesses recover from COVID-related challenges and to encourage them to invest in their IP.

IP Audits Plus

What is an IP audit?

Auditing a company’s intellectual property involves carrying out a detailed analysis of the company’s existing IP assets and providing advice on how best to manage their IP and maximise the IP’s value. An IP audit can play an essential role in helping an innovative busines to develop and commercialise its technology. The results of such an audit can also help potential investors to understand a business’s approach to IP.

An IP audit carried out by one of our experienced attorneys at HLK can provide a business with a detailed understanding of its existing IP assets, including patents, trade marks, designs and copyright, along with advice on:

  • ownership of their IP rights
  • how best to harvest their IP
  • the likely patentability of an invention
  • whether their IP is being exploited appropriately to gain a commercial advantage
  • their freedom to operate in the market, and related potential risks regarding third party rights
  • effective IP management
  • developing and maintaining an effective IP strategy
  • how to handle confidential information using non-disclosure agreements
  • how to present the results of an IP audit to potential investors

How to apply for funding under the IP Audits Plus Scheme?

To be eligible for the grant, a business should be growing and innovative, should be technology led and have international ambitions and should have fewer than 500 employees.

To apply for the UK IPO Audits Plus scheme an applicant should, in the first instance, contact one of the UK IPO’s recognised partners: Innovate UK Edge (formerly Enterprise Europe Network), Scottish Enterprise and the Highlands and Island Enterprises, or the Welsh Government. They will advise whether the business would qualify for the scheme. If the qualification criteria are met, an application for the grant is made via the partner scheme to the UKIPO on the business’s behalf.

If the UK IPO accepts the application, the business can then instruct an IP firm, such as HLK, to conduct the audit.

IP Access

The IP Access scheme is an extension of the IP Audits Plus scheme and is available only to businesses who have completed an IP audit using IP Audits Plus funding.

The scheme offers a contribution of £5,000 for eligible SMEs in the UK, which can be used as a contribution towards many IP related costs including professional fees for IP services both in the UK and overseas, the management of IP assets, consultancy, IP insurance and valuation and tax relief advice.

Applications for funding via the IP Access scheme must be made before 12pm on 31 March 2022. Businesses who have already completed a part-funded IP audit since the scheme opened in April 2020 can apply for the additional funding now. Businesses who have not yet completed an IP audit can still benefit by applying first for funding under the IP Audits Plus scheme and, once the IP audit has been completed, submitting an application for an IP Access grant before the 31 March 2022 deadline.

How HLK can help

At HLK, we are experienced in carrying out IP audits across a wide range of technologies. HLK can help businesses access the UK IPO grant and can conduct an IP Audit under the UK IPO Audits Plus scheme.

If you would like further information about applying for funding under either scheme, please get in touch.

Sources of Further Information and Advice

This is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Should you require advice on this or any other topic then please contact or your usual Haseltine Lake Kempner advisor.

A PDF of this information can be accessed here.