Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often face difficult decisions about how to prioritize between various efforts, such as marketing, product development and intellectual property (IP). To facilitate the introduction of IP into these companies, Awapatent has recently launched a new service called “Startup Services – IP for the newborn company”. This initiative strives to inaugurate a possibility to create an asset for these companies which could well become their most valuable one, namely an IP portfolio comprising one or more patents, trademark or design protections.
The Startup Services are aimed at companies fulfilling three requirements:
- The company should not be older than two years
- The turnover of the company should be less than 500 000 SEK
- A brief application should be sent, containing company name, address and IP right sought
Within this service, Awapatent guarantees a safe, streamlined and cost-effective process from the first contact with one of its attorneys to the filing of an IP right. The first meeting is free of charge. The service offer also includes agreements, for example a non-disclosure agreement to be used when meeting potential clients or collaborators.
To further illuminate the possibilities for SMEs in this field, the innovation agency of Sweden, VINNOVA, has recently started its distribution of innovation cheques. The goal of this project, which will last until 2017, is to stimulate the development of innovation in SMEs and help improving their innovation capacity. The project will provide the companies with a quick and efficient access to funds for consulting external IP expertise.
The most important requirements for companies wishing to apply for an innovation cheque are as follows:
- The company should have 3 – 249 employees
- The company should have conducted business at least 1 year and have a net turnover of at least 1.5 MSEK
The innovation cheque, which may amount to 100 000 SEK, can be used for the purchase of services from consultants having the expertise to provide strategic business advice on the management of IP assets.
In my opinion, Awapatent’s Startup Service and VINNOVA’s innovation cheques should be highly interesting for young aspiring companies. The Startup Service significantly lowers the threshold which many companies associate with IP in terms of complexity and cost. Furthermore, once companies take their first steps into the field of IP, they often gain a deeper insight in its importance, possibilities and reward. I also believe that the innovation cheques directed towards somewhat more mature SMEs are praiseworthy and serve a similar purpose, namely to boost the recognition of IP as an important business tool.
To conclude, I strongly advise SMEs to explore the possibilities of receiving advice and services by acknowledged IP consultants related to Awapatent’s Startup Service and/or VINNOVA’s innovation cheques, regardless of the size of the company’s current IP portfolio.