The West Midlands has a rich history of industry and great inventions.
So as part of the government’s modern industrial strategy, the Business Support Policy Team at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) work closely with partners in the region to support business growth and innovation. These include Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), Growth Hubs, universities, and others.
It’s a time of significant change in the region. There is a now a Metro Mayor for the West Midlands, who leads the newly established combined authority. There is also the Midlands Engine initiative and the government continues to actively support the role of LEPs in setting the strategy for local economic development. All these public bodies work together to develop a local industrial strategy.
As the IPO’s West Midlands Policy Advisor, my role includes working with local policy makers to include IP in any developing strategies for innovation, business support, access to finance and overseas trade. Recently, I have been involved in implementing a new IP service within the three Growth Hubs in the West Midlands Combined Authority. The service is officially launching in January and is called IP Assist.
Advisors will be able to deliver an IP assist consultation for businesses seeking support to manage their business assets. They can also signpost clients to the best, most appropriate IP and innovation support available in the region. An online toolkit on the Growth Hubs’ websites will follow shortly after.
IP Master Class
In December, 25 advisors from across the region participated in the IPO’s IP Master Class course. Advisors attended from the various Growth Hubs, Enterprise Europe Network, Innovation Birmingham, BizzInn, Medilink and from the area’s universities.
For the first time, the course was held in Birmingham, sponsored by Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP Growth Hub. Birmingham City University kindly hosted the course in the Curzon Building, not far from where HS2 (the high speed rail network) will arrive at the new Curzon Street Station.
On day three, a stakeholders’ lunch brought together the region’s shared innovation and intellectual property capability. Universities, IP and legal professionals, insurers, government and other public sector groups, were able to connect with the advisors and one another. The aim of the network is to help businesses make the most of their IP, and the IPO and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP have been at the heart of this work.
The Industrial Strategy aims to increase business investment in R&D by improving the business environment. Part of this includes building local capability to commercialise IP. With this network established, training delivered, and advisors providing the new service, we have taken an important step forward in the West Midlands to meeting these aims. Our work doesn’t stop there however. In the year ahead, other ways to integrate IP into the wider innovation ecosystem are also being developed. I look forward to seeing how this progresses.