21.10.21 Know-how

A Short Guide to IP for Grant Applications

As grant writers, we need to have an understanding of Intellectual Property (IP) to be able to accurately articulate our clients’ innovations in their grant applications, maximising the likelihood of success. In this blog, we will discuss four points you should consider around IP when developing innovation-focused grant applications.

1) What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names and images used in commerce.

2) Do you have IP?

Intellectual Property (IP) Rights reward inventive and innovative people by allowing them to protect and subsequently make money from the intellectual property they have created. There are 4 categories of IP that help to protect what you have created, these are:

  • Patents– Right to an invention that is new (novel) and inventive (non-obvious) – Most related to Grant Funding
  • Copyright– Protection of artistic creations (and computer programs/code)
  • Design Rights– Protection on the appearance of a product (2-D/3-D)
  • Trademarks– Protection for signs of commercial origin

Patents relate most to grant funding due to the nature of R&D funding competitions looking for novel technologies, products, or processes that will put the UK at the forefront of innovation. Within some grant funding applications, there is a dedicated section to outline any IP you have and how you are going to protect it.

3) Do you have a professional advisor?

IP is a highly specialist topic and we advise our clients to seek advice from a professional IP attorney. As grant experts, we need to understand patents to be able to write about them within grant applications but when it comes to wider support (such as filing and searches) our ecosystem of partners can help out. Where our knowledge is limited we have trusted partners that will be able to carry on the journey with you.

We have leading IP attorneys that can support you with freedom-to-operate searches, and drafting and filing patent applications, which will not only protect your IP but will strengthen your grant application, increasing your chance of success.

4) Do you have freedom-to-operate?

A freedom-to-operate (FTO) search lets you check if your IP will likely infringe on prior intellectual property. This allows you to check if you can develop, make and market products, technologies or processes without legal liabilities to third parties.

In an ideal world, a freedom-to-operate search will find no prior patents (or other IP rights) that the invention is likely to infringe on. It is difficult to confirm freedom-to-operate as many patent applications (the first stage in getting a patent) are not published until 18 months after filing.

As you can imagine if you do not have the freedom-to-operate this will significantly impact the development of your project which in turn would limit your ability to receive an R&D grant.

5) IP and Innovate UK funding applications

How much detail about your IP should you provide in an application?

Information concerning your IP will need to be more or less detailed depending on the grant you are applying for. To give two examples:

  • Innovate UK SMART applications have a section on how the funded project will enable your business to be developed in the future called ‘Outcomes and route to market’. We would suggest including outline details of IP rights and exploitation in this section. Questions for SMART are limited to 400 words, restricting the amount of content you can include on IP.
  • Biomedical Catalyst applications have an entire question dedicated to intellectual property called ‘Freedom to Operate’. This question has a word limit of 600 words enabling you to go into much more detail on IP and the overall IP strategy of your business such as current and future patent applications.

The key takeaway

We hope we’ve got you thinking about how IP can affect your grant application. The key takeaways from this blog would be to seek advice from a professional IP attorney on IP regulations and, for translating IP in grant applications, engage an experienced grant writer.

Our vast ecosystem of partners includes support from various professionals that share the same vision of nurturing growth and innovation. If you would like to be introduced to a trusted IP Attorney all you have to do is let us know!

Co-written by Lauren Daubney and Camilla Owens 


Stay in the loop

Subscribe to our regular emails and be the first to receive the latest and greatest in grant funding opportunities, news, insights and resources.