For a small nation, Scotland has more than its fair share of entrepreneur innovators. There are a huge number of technology-focused businesses in various stages of development spread across sectors including IT and FinTech, life sciences, renewables and oil and gas. These businesses focus on different types of technology and new ideas, but they have one thing in common - they are all steeped in intellectual assets or intellectual property (IP).

Sufficient support is vital to unlocking the potential of those new ideas. Tech incubators and tech hubs, such as Edinburgh’s CodeBase (one of the largest technology incubators in the UK and one of the fastest growing in the EU) offer early stage support. Glasgow’s BioCity and Edinburgh’s BioQuarter offer incubator space for ambitious new life sciences companies. And there is the newly-launched Oil & Gas Technology Centre in Aberdeen, which is backed by the UK and Scottish Governments and will fund innovative technology projects to speed up recovery and maximise potential in the UK North Sea.

In addition to development support, such as that outlined above, securing investment is key. There are a variety of public sector grants available to start-up technology companies. Early stage growth capital is also available through universities, business angels and private equity sources. However, these third party stakeholders will want to know that the business in which they are investing has identified and protected its IP, which is likely to be its key asset, in such a way that their investment cannot be easily undermined by would-be copy cats.

Start-ups need to obtain professional advice on their IP strategy from the get-go and to prioritise protection for their critical innovations. This should ideally take the form of registered IP, such as patents and designs and also by controlling access to their ideas by way of robust contractual and confidentiality documentation. Failing to take appropriate steps early on will only lead to gaps being exposed in any financing due diligence exercise, which in some cases cannot be filled at a later stage. Our industry recognised specialist IP team leads the market in this area.