What is grant funding for ‘open innovation’?

December 14, 2023

At Venturenomix our primary task is to secure our clients’ R&D grant funding.

We know a lot about grant funding, but we also know when to bring in one of our expert partners. In this final article, a series of six blogs, we’ve teamed up with IP Attorney Jason Teng at Potter Clarkson to take a look at some of the IP-specific challenges we often come across in our R&D funding applications.

R&D grant funding for ‘open innovation’ is a term I have been hearing recently – what do I need to know?

Open Innovation is the term used to describe the process of collaboration between large companies (corporates) that have a specific challenge they need to solve, and innovative SMEs that could develop a solution.

There are increasing numbers of R&D grant funding calls aimed at fostering open innovation, from Innovate UK and Horizon Europe. For example, a recent collaboration between Phillips and ColorFabb has seen 100% biodegradable plastic being used to 3D print light filaments.

From a grant writer’s perspective

Alex says: “Going into these collaborations as an SME, let’s face it, can be nerve-racking given the disparity in company size and power. There is generally a ‘mediator’ involved in Open Innovation, a neutral third party that will facilitate the relationship.

In particular, this facilitator should be your first contact point for IP, for both the IP brought to the project by both parties and for any IP generated during the open innovation project.

The application itself requires existing IP to be defined by both parties and the potential IP to be created – this will form the basis for the grant/collaboration agreement. State your existing IP as per the advice in this Q&A – more advice on how best to proceed needs to come from a patent attorney.”

From a patent attorney’s perspective

Jason says: “Collaboration with large corporates can be very beneficial, as they may have access to resources and markets that you lack. On the other hand, innovative SMEs are typically more agile than large corporates when it comes to developing new IP, which is the commercial advantage they possess.

To protect your commercial advantage during and after the project, it is essential to not only ensure that you already have suitable IP rights in place, but also define in the collaboration agreement exactly how your existing IP will be used by your collaborator(s) and how the potential IP to be created will be handled in
terms of ownership and commercialisation. Ignoring any of these IP points risks dilution of your commercial position in any collaboration you enter into.”

For more IP-led insights, check out our collaborative white paper.