The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) published today the findings of their preliminary assessment of the Easy Access IP initiative.
This assessment fulfils NCUB’s commitment set by the Government’s response to the House of Commons Science and Technology committee’s (STFC) enquiry into the Valley of Death. Carried out in partnership with PraxisUnico and commissioned to IP Pragmatics, the study collates intelligence from publicly available data and through semi-structured interviews with 18 of the 24 known partners to the Easy Access IP initiative.
The report gathers a full picture of Easy Access IP from the viewpoint of the participating organisations and produces a number of recommendations to help gain a more complete picture of the contribution of the scheme to improving commercialisation of IP from Universities.
Key findings from the survey include:
- It is still too early to judge the success of the scheme for most participants.
- Most participants are using Easy Access IP licences only very occasionally, and for only a small proportion of the licences that they sign.
- Even where the scheme is not heavily used, the majority of participants find it a useful addition to the range of knowledge exchange mechanisms available to them, and all intend to remain partners and continue to use the scheme where appropriate.
- The scheme works best with an internal champion and/or senior management support and where business development and technology transfer are closely aligned.
- It provides an IP exploitation framework with diverse niche applications.
- The Easy Access IP brand is a valuable marketing tool, and sends a positive message that the organisation is open and easy to work with.
- The concepts of simple agreements and free licences are not new, and many organisations that are not partners of Easy Access IP achieve similar aims through other mechanisms without the Easy Access IP label.
- Costs and risks of development, difficulties in reaching potential partners, and lack of commercial potential may be more important constraints to wider uptake of University IP.
- Easy Access IP has widened the debate about KE mechanisms, and added another approach and more flexibility to the KE toolkit.
Rebecca Villis, Head of Innovation at the Intellectual Property Office who funded the seed of Easy Access IP through their Fast Forward competition said:
“I am pleased that the Intellectual Property Office’s Fast Forward funding has allowed extension of the Easy Access IP approach to other universities. The Fast Forward competition aims to allow innovative approaches to the management of IP in university knowledge exchange to be tested and it is great to hear this funding has facilitated a useful addition to the range of mechanisms available to universities.”
Elaine Eggington, Principal Consultant for IP Pragmatics, who were commissioned to undertake the assessment concluded;
“The majority of the Easy Access partners canvassed for this study reported Easy Access IP to be a useful addition to the range of knowledge transfer mechanisms that are available to them, two partners use the scheme successfully as a default mechanism. The challenge is now to industry – if the low level of engagement is due to the difficulty of dealing with Universities, then removal of these barriers should lead to increased engagement from companies”
Dr Rosa Fernandez, Director of Research, NCUB said:
“Initiatives such as Easy Access IP aim to expand the use university knowledge in business operations and strategy, which is at the heart of what NCUB does. It may be too early to judge the success of Easy Access IP overall but it is not too early to welcome a practice that is organised as a partnership, has demonstrated appeal to SMEs, and adds to the portfolio of tools we have to expand access to university knowledge assets.”
1: Science and Technology Committee. 2013. Bridging the valley of death: improving the commercialization of research: Government Response to the Committee’s Eighth Report of Session 2012-13. (HC 559, 2012-13). London: The Stationery Office. [Online] Available here.