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					                                                          My idea: is it a business?




UK Intellectual Property Office is an operating name of the Patent Office

                                                                              A DTI SERVICE
All information contained in this document was correct at the time of going to print, and is available in alternative formats
on request. For further information please visit our website at:- www.ipo.gov.uk or contact us on:- 08459 500 505
Introduction
               This booklet gives basic guidance on how to legally protect your idea,
               and develop it into a reality. It aims to give you an overview of the issues
               you need to be aware of in turning your idea into a successful business.
               If you need more detailed advice from experts, the guide directs you
               to appropriate professional organisations. You’ll also find a couple of
               examples of successful ideas which have been developed into businesses.




                                                                                          
Contents
           Research                                      3
           What is intellectual property (IP)            3
           Choosing a business strategy                  5
           Working with other people and organisations   6
           Confidentiality                               6
           Keeping hold of your idea (enforcement)       7
           Making sure your idea is original             8
           Develop your idea                             9
           Assessing potential markets                   0
           Identifying your competitors                  
           Planning your project                         
           Funding your business                         3
           Attracting partners                           4
           Govenment support                             5
           Checklist                                     6
           Case study (FireAngel®)                       7
           Case study (Solio)                            8





Research
Researching your idea is vital. Be realistic about the
                                                             If you’ve created a new
following six questions.                                     invention, it could be a good
                                                             idea to apply for a patent.
•     Does your idea work?                                   This gives you the authority
                                                             to control how the invention is
                                                             made, used or sold.
•     Is there a market?

•     What will it cost to produce?

•     What will people pay for it?

•	    Can	it	really	make	a	profit?

•     Can you market it, and do you have the energy
      and resources to do so (or can you get them)?

What is intellectual property (IP)?
•    Patents – If you’ve created a new invention, it could
     be a good idea to apply for a patent. This gives you
     the authority to control how the invention is made,
     used or sold.

•    Copyright – This can be an important source of
     income for your business as you may be able to
     charge every time someone plays your jingle on the
     radio, uses your software, transfers your manual
     to the internet, makes copies of your song lyrics or
     reprints your magazine article. You can also use
     copyright to stop competitors copying your labels and
     literature.

•    Designs – These are important assets as they can
     be a valuable selling point and part of your business
     branding, separating you from your competitors.

•    Trademarks – These can be one of the most
     powerful marketing tools you have, as they help
     customers recognise your company. Registering
     a trademark allows you to protect the goods and
     services which carry it, and gives you an IP asset
     to stop other people or organisations from copying
     them.

•    Know-how – You should keep secret any information
     or knowledge you have that is not obvious from the
     products or processes you are going to sell. This
     will help you keep ahead of your competitors and
     improve any IP you want to license.




                                                                                               3
Choosing a business strategy
You may choose to start some sort of business to make best use of your idea, rather than license or sell it.

Starting	your	own	business	is	likely	to	be	expensive,	but	all	profits	and	success	will	belong	to	you.	You	may	be	
able to attract funding, but to do this you will need a business plan. The ‘Starting Up’ section of the Business
Link website (www.businesslink.gov.uk, or www.bgateway.com in Scotland) provides guidance for those people
who are considering setting up their own business.

It is also worth remembering that even if you do not start your own business, you should still be prepared to do
most of the work to show why your idea can make a good business.

Getting an existing manufacturer to make your product or       your local Business Link adviser (www.busineslink.gov.uk/
provide your service can allow you to concentrate on other     bdotg/action.directory?r.s=h). There are also some grants
things like promoting and selling it.                          available to encourage businesses and universities to work
                                                               together.
Joint ventures allow you to bring together the resources of
two or more different business to develop a shared project.    Spin-out companies
Usually, one business provides the idea and the other
provides expertise or funding. ‘Setting a Vision for Growth’   A spin-out company is an independent company created
(www.businesslink.gov.uk) by Business Link provides more       to make best use of IP rights which have been licensed.
information. Most joint venture agreements should include      These companies are often used in universities, where
a licence agreement to set out how to transfer technology.     the original researchers need to be involved for the spin-
                                                               out to be successful in the future. Because the business
In a collaboration, you team up with a business or             relationship is at ‘arm’s length’, it allows the spin-out
university. This allows you to share the costs and the         company to focus on a single idea and secure funding or
work, but it may also mean you’ll have to split the profits.   government grants
                                                               (www.patent.gov.uk/about/notices/00/manip/sec04.pdf).
For more information, read the Business Link guide ‘Joint
Ventures and Partnering’ (www.businesslink.gov.uk) on
how to work with UK universities and colleges, or speak to




    Getting an existing manufacturer to make your product
    or provide your service can allow you to concentrate on
    other things like promoting and selling it.


4
Managing your IP rights
Just like physical property, it is up to you how you manage your IP rights. Selling or licensing your rights may
appeal to you, but no-one wants to buy a business that won’t make money. Your research on the market, costs
and competitors will be vital to show someone why they should buy or license your idea.

                                                                                   Selling some or all of your rights will give you a
                                                                                     one-off payment but not a long-term income.




Selling your rights                                           The Licensing Executives Society Britain and Ireland
                                                              (www.les-bi.org) is the society for professionals who are
Selling some or all of your rights will give you a one-off    interested in licensing IP rights and transferring technology.
payment but not a long-term income. Once you have sold        The Institute of International Licensing Practitioners (www.
your ownership, the new owner can stop you using the IP       iilp.net) can help you with licensing in the UK and abroad,
unless you agree a licence with them that allows you to       and run a service to find you an appropriate licensing
continue using it.                                            consultant.

Licensing                                                     Copyright collective licences
Because you hold the IP rights, a licence will give you an    Many copyright owners find it difficult to manage their
income without you having to put time and resources into      rights on their own, and so have formed collective
producing the product yourself. A licence arrangement         management organisations to represent them and manage
can pay you either a fixed amount or royalty payments         their rights for them. There are many collecting societies
whenever your idea is used. Often, the licensee (the          available who will manage and license the copyright on
company you license your rights to) will have better          your behalf (see www.intellectual-property.gov.uk/faq/
knowledge of and access to markets, which will more           copyright/copyowners.htm).
effectively make best use of the IP.
                                                              There are a range of business strategies for artists and
                                                              other copyright owners to increase profit as much as
You can license the rights to one company or many, and        possible. You could aim your product or service at the
this will affect how much money you can make. But             mass market or only make a limited edition. The copyright
remember, doing the work to show that your business           owners’ organisations may be able to provide more
idea works is highly important. Licences can be limited in    advice (www.intellectual-property.gov.uk/faq/copyright/
geographically or in time or how the rights are licensed. A   copyowners.htm).
clear written agreement between you and the licensee is
vital to avoid you having disputes in the future.             Public-lending rights (PLR)

                                                              The PLR scheme gives payments from government funds
                                                              to authors, to allow public libraries in the United Kingdom
                                                              to lend their books for free (www.plr.uk.com).


                                                                                                                                        5
Working with other people and organisations
Confidentiality

It	is	highly	important	that	you	consider	confidentiality	before	you	speak	to	anyone.	If	you	do	tell	people	about	
your idea, you may not then be able to patent your invention at a later time. Because of this, sharing new ideas
for	a	business	needs	a	lot	of	trust,	and	confidential	disclosure	agreements	can	help	(see	www.patent.gov.uk/
patent/howtoapply/cda).

Building a team is important, and you’ll almost definitely     Franchising
need to find people to help you along the way, because
they bring skills you don’t have. It’s important to work out   If you want your business to grow quickly but you don’t
what help you need, how much it will cost and what you         have the cash to make this happen, franchising might
can pay. A good team around you will often make the            be one way to grow. However, you will have to share the
difference between a business succeeding and failing.          profits and lose some control over how your idea is sold.
                                                               The British Franchise Association may be able to help
Being a small inventor can be a lonely business, and           (www.british-franchise.org).
making a business from your ideas can be frustrating
and sometimes painfully slow. Because of this, it can be
useful to contact other inventors to share ideas, advice and    Building a team is important, and you’ll almost definitely need to find
                                                                people to help you along the way, because they bring skills you don’t
opinions. There are a number of online forums that allow
                                                                have.
users to swap ideas and information, such as IPR Talk
(www.iprtalk.co.uk), Make Sparks Fly (www.internetprnews.
com/colloquix//index) or the ideas network
(www.ideas.co.uk).

You can get more advice on all areas of inventing at the
Institute of Patentees and Inventors (www.invent.org.uk).
In Scotland, ICASS (www.icass.co.uk) provides specialist
advice and support for Scotland’s inventors.

Invention promoters are firms who offer help to inventors.
Some people use their services to assess, develop
and market ideas. Invention promoters can be very
expensive. If you are interested in working with one, we
recommend that you do some research before entering
into a contract. This may help you to avoid costly mistakes.
For information on dealing with these companies, please
read our guidance ‘Step-by-Step Guide to using Invention
Promoters’ (www.patent.gov.uk/patent/howtoapply/
ipromoters) or contact the Institute of International
licensing Practitioners (www.iilp.net).

Technology brokers

There are lots of services available on the internet that
help bring inventors and business people together. The
following website addresses are links to some not-for-
profit brokering services. We do not support any of the
individuals or companies using these services.

Globalwatchonline.com
Wales4innovation.com




6
Keeping hold of your idea (enforcement)
Getting hold of and keeping IP rights is meaningless if those rights cannot be enforced in the marketplace. So,
you need to consider what you would do at the start if someone copies your idea.

Why enforce IP rights?

The main aim of protecting IP rights is to allow the owner
to benefit from their inventions. As a result, enforcing IP
rights is vital to:

•   make sure IP rights continue to be legally valid;

•   prevent other organisations from damaging the IP,
    including affecting your goodwill or reputation; and

•   help you get compensation for any damage (for
    example, loss of profit).

Who will enforce my rights?

It is up to you to identify whether someone has copied
your IP and decide what measures you should then take.
In most cases, you can begin civil proceedings, but if
someone has illegally copied your product or service, you
may be able to begin criminal proceedings.

For more information on how to enforce your IP rights, see
our booklet on enforcement.

Before taking action in court, you may want to ask our
Search and Advisory Service for a validity search or their
opinion (see www.patent.gov.uk/patent/sas).

Insurance

You can get insurance to cover legal costs if you need to
take someone to court for damaging your IP. However,
make sure your policy gives you enough cover. Also, the
earlier you take out a policy, the cheaper it is likely to be.
Insurance underwriters may not be prepared to cover the
risk if you delay taking out insurance until your product has
already been affected.

If you feel that insurance would be a good idea, discuss it
with a professional adviser, such as a patent attorney or
solicitor. Remember that if you’re approaching insurers,
you may need to get them to sign a confidentiality
agreement to make sure they don’t publicise your
invention.




                                                                    It is up to you to identify whether someone has copied your
                                                                             IP and decide what measures you should then take.


                                                                                                                                  7
Making sure your idea is original
If	you	are	to	make	best	use	of	your	IP	assets,	you	must	first	take	a	few	steps	to	set	up	your	invention.	Remember,	
you need to have non-disclosure agreements in place until you have sorted out applications for protecting your
IP.

    Once you have found out that your idea is original, you need to
                                                                      The commercial potential of your idea is likely to be limited
    consider how you will protect it.                                 if it isn’t original. You should carry out searches to assess
                                                                      whether there are any patents or other forms of IP that
                                                                      cover your idea. There may already be rights covering
                                                                      the invention itself, which means that all or part of your
                                                                      idea is not original. There may also be patents or other
                                                                      publications that were in place before your idea, in which
                                                                      case you will not be able to get patent protection.
                                                                      Protect your intellectual property
                                                                          For more information on carrying out these searches,
                                                                          read the section on originality in the Inventors’
                                                                          Handbook by NESTA
                                                                          (www.nesta.org.uk/howtoapply/inventorshandbook/).
                                                                          You can search trademarks
                                                                          (www.patent.gov.uk/tm/dbase)
                                                                          and designs (www.patent.gov.uk/design/dbase) on
                                                                          our website. The British Library runs a free service
                                                                          for searching for patents, and has a wide range of
                                                                          resources online (www.bl.uk/services/document/patent.
                                                                          html).

                                                                          For a full search, you’ll generally need to pay for expert
                                                                          help. Patent and trademark attorneys specialise in this
                                                                          area (see the section on legal help for their contact
                                                                          details) and our Search and Advisory Service provides
                                                                          commercial searches for patents (www.patent.gov.uk/
                                                                          patent/sas) and trademarks (www.patent.gov.uk/tm/sas).

                                                                      Once you have found out that your idea is original,
                                                                      you need to consider how you will protect it. IP law is
                                                                      complicated, and so getting legal or other professional
                                                                      advice might often be the best way to work out how to
                                                                      protect your IP rights and benefit from them.

                                                                      The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (www.cipa.org.
                                                                      uk) or the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (www.itma.org.
                                                                      uk) may be the best people to approach about registering
                                                                      your IP rights. CIPA runs clinics (www.cipa.org.uk/pag
                                                                      es/adviceclinics) which give free basic advice to inventors
                                                                      at the early stages of developing an idea. For copyright,
                                                                      lawyers or trade associations (or both) may be helpful.

                                                                      There are also other, more general sources of advice and
                                                                      help that might be worth exploring.

                                                                      •     Business Link www.businesslink.gov.uk

                                                                      •     Small Business Service www.sbs.gov.uk

                                                                      •     Innovation Relay Centres www.irc.cordis.lu

                                                                      •     Patent Libraries
                                                                            www.bl.uk/collections/patents/patentsnetork.html

8
Develop your idea
Once you have developed your new idea into a workable product or service, there are a range of resources that
can help you look into the options. These resources can help you assess the commercial potential of your idea,
draw	up	a	business	plan	and	find	sources	of	possible	funding.		

Also, see the sections on funding and government support.     For more information on your legal responsibilities and
                                                              guidance on safety issues, see the ‘Managing Health,
Getting the right design can be vital to your business’s      Safety and Environment’ area of the Business Link website
success. Building a prototype (a first version of the
product) or developing a design can improve your chance        Find a local contacts directory on the Business Link
of becoming a successful business (see www.mas.dti.gov.        website (www.businesslink.gov.uk)
uk).                                                           or the local enterprise agency in the National Federation
                                                               of Enterprise Agencies (www.nfea.com), or try your local
A working prototype can help you check that the idea           Chamber of Commerce (www.chamberonline.co.uk).
actually works in practice, can expose any problems you
didn’t see beforehand and can help you to decide on how        You may also be able to get help from one of the 
the product will look. It can also be useful in discussions    business innovation centres in the UK (www.ebn.be).
with potential partners or investors.                          Innovation relay centres match businesses which have
                                                               similar technology needs or interests (www.irc.cordis.lu).
If you want to produce a working prototype of your
invention, you’ll probably need to work with a manufacturer    The following regional administrations may also be able
or a specialised prototyping centre. A university or           to help.
incubation centre could also help (see the section on
support networks).                                             •      Regional Development Agencies
                                                                      www.dti.gov.uk/rda/info
Local libraries have trade directories, which give lists of
manufacturers and service providers. Remember, you             •      Scottish Enterprise
may need to keep your idea confidential and so need to                www.scottish-enterprise.com
get a confidentiality agreement. You may want to get legal
advice before you make an agreement.                           •      Welsh Assembly
                                                                      new.wales.gov.uk/topics/businessandeconomy
Making sure your product is safe
                                                               •      Invest Northern Ireland
By law, many products have to be tested independently to              www.nfea.com
make sure they are safe. Using a testing centre approved
by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (www.
ukas.com) will make sure that the testing is carried out
competently and that the results will be accepted abroad.

                                                                     Building a prototype (a first version of the product) or developing a
                                                                   design can improve your chance of becoming a successful business.




                                                                                                                                             9
Assessing potential markets
Before	making	large	investments	in	your	new	product	or	service,	it’s	a	good	idea	to	assess	how	it	will	fit	into	the	
marketplace	and	–	most	importantly	–	whether	you	will	be	able	to	build	a	profitable	business	around	it.

Ask yourself the following questions.                           Selling
•    Does it meet or create a need in the market?               A thorough sales strategy is vital if your product or service
                                                                is to be successful. It should focus on:
•    Can you identify potential customers?
                                                                •      ways of selling that can be stopped
•    Will the product or service outlive passing trends in             or changed if necessary; and
     the market or make the most of the trend before it dies
     away?                                                      •      how much it costs for each sale.

•    Is the product or service unique, different or better to   Today there are many outlets through which you can sell
     those offered by competitors?                              your goods or services – for example, websites, mail order,
                                                                direct mail and small ads, each of which have different
•    What competition will it face – locally, nationally and    strengths. The Business Link website (www.businesslink.
     worldwide?                                                 gov.uk) has a detailed guide.

•    Is the product safe and does it keep to relevant               Before making large investments in your new product
     regulations? You should get legal advice before you go         or service, it’s a good idea to assess how it will fit into
     ahead.                                                         the marketplace and – most importantly – whether you
                                                                    will be able to build a profitable business around it.
To answer many of these questions, you may want to carry
out some market research as this could well increase your
chance of success – the Business Link website provides a
guide (www.businesslink.gov.uk).

You could hire a market research agency – you can search
for one on the Research Buyer’s Guide website
(www.rbg.org.uk).

The Chartered Institute of Marketing has a guide to market
research on their website (www.cim.co.uk/cim/ser/html/
cover) and The British Market Research Association has
research techniques on its website
(www.bmra.org.uk/researchers-toolkit/index).

Pricing your service or product

You must set out a pricing strategy for a new product or
service the moment you decide to take an idea forward, as
it will help you find out how much you can afford to invest
in the project.

You can find a full guide to pricing your product or service
on the sales and marketing section of the Business Link
website (www.businesslink.gov.uk). Make sure you
really know what your costs are for making the product or
running the business.




0
Identifying your competitors
There is always competition between businesses. But it is not just another business that might attract your
customers, it could be a new product or service.
To identify your competitors, don’t just research what’s      Staying ahead in the market
already out there. You also need to be constantly looking
out for possible new competition. You may want to consider    Once you are up and running, like all businesses you need
selling or looking to license their IP before somebody else   to keep improving your idea to plan for and respond to the
takes it up.                                                  changing needs of your customers. This means investing
                                                              time and money into market research and developing your
Understanding your competitors                                idea.

The best way to understand your competitors is to monitor     The Business Link Research, Design and Development
the way they do business. Information on the internet can     guide (www.businesslink.gov.uk) explains why developing
give you good tips on what businesses are doing. Find         your idea is vital to staying competitive. You can find
out who aims at your market and how they go about it, for     out how new and original your business is on the
example:                                                      Living Innovation website (www.innovation.gov.uk/self_
                                                              assessment).
•   what they provide and how they market, distribute and     The Manufacturing Advisory Service (www.mas.dti.gov.uk)
    deliver it;                                               also has a fact sheet about management techniques.

•   their brand, design values and prices;

•   how they keep their customers loyal to their product;

•   whether they use new products or business methods;

•   how many staff they have and the quality of staff they
    attract;

•   whether they have a website or e-mail address;

•   who owns the business and what sort of person they
    are; and

•   what is in the annual report (if they’re a public
    company) or their accounts at Companies House
    (www.companieshouse.gov.uk)
    or the Northern Ireland Companies Registry
    (www.detini.gov.uk) if they’re a limited company).

It may be useful to go to exhibitions and trade fairs to
check which of your competitors have displays. Upcoming
events are listed on the Business Link website (www.
businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/event).
Use main libraries to study trade publications and business
magazines.

You can access information about UK trade associations
and business sectors from the Trade Association Forum
(www.taforum.org). You could also speak to your local
Chamber of Commerce (www.chamberonline.co.uk).
Business reference libraries can supply directories and
survey reports.

                                                                     The best way to understand your competitors is to monitor the
                                                                     way they do business. Information on the internet can give you
                                                                                           good tips on what businesses are doing


                                                                                                                                  
Planning your project
Once	you	have	identified	your	new	product	or	service,	you	must	then	plan	how	you	are	going	to	get	it	to	the	
market	and	go	about	turning	it	into	a	profitable	business.

Business Plan Services specialise in helping with business    You may want to consider hiring a professional project
planning (www.bizplans.co.uk) but you can also look at        manager, for example, through the Association of Project
sample plans on the bplans.org.uk website or templates on     Managers (www.apm.org.uk).
Microsoft Office (www.office.microsoft.com).
                                                              The Association of Project Management Group have a
Developing your business acumen                               website (www.apmg-icp.com) which allows members
                                                              to share ideas. The Office of Government Commerce’s
If your project is to be successful, you need to develop      website has details on managing projects (www.ogc.gov.
your business acumen. This means:                             uk/prince).

•    having a good understanding of how your idea can
     make you money;

•    having a thorough understanding of what increases
     profits;

•    focusing on the market; and

•    having a ‘big picture’ of the business and its
     environment.

‘Starting Up’ on the Business Link website (www.
businesslink.gov.uk, or www.bgateway.com in Scotland)
gives guidance on how to go about starting your own
business. It includes tools to assess your qualities as a
businessperson, your business skills, your knowledge of
market-research techniques and your financial commitment
to help you decide whether you are ready to get going.

Being clear on these issues is particularly important if
you’re looking for finance or investment. The process of
building your plan will also focus your mind on how your
new business will need to work to have the best chance of
success.

Managing the development

Carefully managing your project is vital in making sure you
can successfully develop new products or services. You
will need to:

• control costs and set aside resources;

• develop your product;

• work out who’s in charge, who does what and when; and

• sort out any problems.

You should set deadlines for when you will complete
important tasks, but your plan must allow for problems that
may arise which could change the project or your business.                      Business Plan Services specialise in helping with
                                                                                                              business planning





Funding your business
 There are many ways to fund your growing business. It’s a good idea to get professional advice before looking
 for sources of funding (see www.businesslink.gov.uk, or www.bgateway.com in Scotland).

Use your own money to set up your business                           Before lending you money, your bank will want to know that
                                                                     you are a good risk – new companies can find this difficult
If you’re starting a new business, it’s likely that you’ll have      to show, because they do not have a track record to draw
to put up some of the money yourself. Financing your                 on.
business yourself gives you far more control than other
types of funding, but you must be aware of the risks. If             Usually, the bank will want you to:
your business fails, you could lose your home and other
personal belongings.                                                 •    present a realistic business plan;

Borrowing from friends and family                                    •    provide evidence that you have a successful track
                                                                          record in business;
Friends and family may be willing to help by lending money
or by buying a share of your company. But remember, you              •    offer security for any money it lends you; and
could risk losing their money as well as your own.
You should give possible investors an up-to-date business            •    invest some money in the business yourself.
plan, and have an agreement that sets out terms and
conditions deadlines (such as for paying interest and                If you don’t meet all the bank’s normal conditions, you may
repayments). You and your family may also need to pay                qualify for a loan under the Government’s Small Firms
more tax (for example, on interest-bearing loans).                   Loan Guarantee scheme (www.businesslink.gov.uk, or
Using bank loans to start your business.                             www.bgateway.com in Scotland).




                                                      Friends and family may be willing to help by lending money or by buying a share of your
                                                              company. But remember, you could risk losing their money as well as your own.


                                                                                                                                           3
Attracting partners
Outside funding can suit opportunities for long-term investment. Usually, your company gives investors part-ownership in
return for their investment. As a result, the investors will share in the profits of your business.

                                                                       Business angels are individuals who invest on their own,
 Business angels are individuals who invest on their own, or as part
 of a group of investors, in businesses which tend to grow quickly.    or as part of a group of investors, in businesses which tend
                                                                       to grow quickly. As well as money – usually up to £50,000
                                                                       – business angels often make their own skills, experience
                                                                       and contacts available to the company they invest in. The
                                                                       British Business Angels Association (www.bbaa.org.uk)
                                                                        can give you more information.

                                                                       Venture capitalists usually invest anything from £500,000
                                                                       to £ million or more. They choose businesses they
                                                                       believe will give a high return on their investment and
                                                                       projects with clear exit times. The British Venture Capitalist
                                                                       Association (www.bvca.co.uk) represents over 80 UK-
                                                                       based private-equity and venture-capital firms.

                                                                       Before approaching potential investors, you need a good
                                                                       business plan, along with evidence of your ability to
                                                                       manage a business. Your plan should include detailed
                                                                       financial forecasts and explain what you will do with funds
                                                                       which are invested in the business. You will also need to
                                                                       prepare a ‘pitch’ (a presentation to help sell your business
                                                                       to potential investors).

                                                                       Grants

                                                                       In the UK, there are many types of grants available – for
                                                                       example, from the Grants for Research and Development
                                                                       Scheme (which is run by the Research Development
                                                                       Agencies (www.dti.gov.uk/rda/info)
                                                                       and the Small Firms Loan Guarantee(www.businesslink.
                                                                       gov.uk).
                                                                       In Europe, there is the Framework Programme (cordis.
                                                                       europa.eu/fp6)
                                                                       and EUREKA (www.eureka.be/thematic
                                                                       aboutStrategicInitiatives.do).
                                                                        They are good sources of cheap financing and may also
                                                                       provide expert advice and information.

                                                                       To qualify for a grant, your business must meet the
                                                                       conditions set by the scheme. If accepted, you will have to
                                                                       use the funds for a specific project and the grant will only
                                                                       cover a percentage of your costs. There is often strong
                                                                       competition for the schemes and the application process
                                                                       can be complicated and take a long time.

                                                                       The Business Link website (www.businesslink.gov.uk)
                                                                       outlines all the types of grants which are available.




4
Government support
There	are	a	number	of	government	programmes	which	can	offer	support,	and	it	can	be	worth	finding	out	if	they	
offer help for your type of business. There are also a range of grants available to SMEs (see www.grantnet.com).

Creative industries have a range of business options, and
the DCMS website includes information on how to get            Businesses that carry out research and development
                                                               can often reduce their tax bills by claiming relief.
funding (see www.culture.gov.uk/creative_industries/).

Research councils (www.rcuk.ac.uk) fund academic
research and training. They aim to turn academic or
business ideas into money-making processes and
products. Each research council has its own procedure for
awarding research and development (R&D) grants.

The Small Business Research Initiative is designed to
make it easier for smaller firms to get contracts from
government organisations to carry out research and
development (see www.sbri.org.uk).

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships run throughout the UK
and aim to bring graduate researchers into businesses
(see www.ktponline.org.uk).

Knowledge Transfer Networks offer grants which are
designed to create networks between businesses,
academic institutions and trade associations. You can find
more information on the DTI website at
www.dti.gov.uk/innovation.

Collaborative research and development grants encourage
businesses to team up and consult with the research
community. The level of grant support will vary between
25% and 75% of both partners’ R&D costs. You can find
more information on the DTI website
(www.dti.gov.uk/innovation).

The Shell Technology Enterprise Programme (STEP)
is a scheme designed to help small or medium-sized
businesses or community organisations. The business
pays a student a weekly training allowance for the length of
the project. In return, the business receives support from a
local STEP manager (see www.step.org.uk).

LINK collaborative research encourages the industry
and academics to work together on research projects.
All LINK projects must involve at least one company and
one research-based organisation. Large and small UK
companies and even multinational companies can take
part (www.ost.gov.uk/link/).

Tax relief and allowances for research and
development

Businesses that carry out research and development can
often reduce their tax bills by claiming relief. For more
information, see the HM Revenue & Customs website
(www.hmrc.gov.uk/randd).


                                                                                                                      5
Checklist
            Check that the idea is new.
            Assess	where	you	will	fit	in	the	market.	
            • Choose your target customers.
            • Know your customers’ needs, identify the types of customers and how to sell to them.
            • Set out your costs and find out what customers will pay.
            Identify competitors.
            Protect your idea with appropriate IP and think about enforcement.
            Prove the idea works.
            • Research and develop your business, new products and services.
            • Get the design right, test it and develop prototypes.
            Get the professional help you need, for example:
            • Business advisors, solicitors, accountants, and patent and trademark attorneys.
            Sort out a business plan.
            • How do I survive until my business is off the ground?
            • Predict and plan your sales.
            • Plan your marketing strategy, and identify potential sales methods.
            • Do market research and get market reports.
            • Choose and protect your business name, and create a brand.
            Use your business plan to get funding, for example.
            • Investors (equity), business partners, grants or venture capitalists.
            Consider your business options.
            • For example, licensing, manufacturing, joint venture, franchising,
               subcontracting and so on.
            Starting a business.
            • Budget and plan your business.
            • Plan your cashflow and how to get paid on time.
            • Examine your finance options, both to start off with and if you run out.
            • Decide whether to lease or buy assets.
            • Choose the legal structure for your business.
            • Choose and run a business bank account.
            • Sort out your tax and record-keeping.
            • Assess whether you are responsible for paying National Insurance, business rates,
               VAT, and other business taxes, reliefs and allowances.
            • Assess risks and your responsibilities for health, safety, security and the environment.
            • Insure your business and its assets and get liability insurance.
            • Set up your premises and negotiate with suppliers.
            Running the business.
            • Pricing the product or service.
            • Marketing your product or service and staying ahead in the market.
            • Control your business costs and stock.
            • Consider whether to sell direct, how you will distribute your products, and setting up
               and promoting your business online.
            • Get the most from IT in your business – for example, through e-marketing,
               e-commerce, and accepting online payments.
            Keeping to the law.
            • For example, the Sale of Goods Act, Data Protection, fair trading, trade descriptions
               and trading standards, product liability, the Information Commissioner’s regulations.
            • Review the regulations that affect your business, investigate and apply for the licences
               and permits.




6
FireAngel®
FireAngel decided to go it alone.                          Within four years, FireAngel had won a number of
                                                           awards including the Real Business/CBI New Product of
They initially received a £55,000 European grant but the   the Year. In 00, Sprue Aegis became a public limited
product developed some problems in the first year and      company with a turnover (for the three months up to June
the grant was soon used up. They then received another     003) of £55,000 – a 46% increase on the same three
£50,000 through a group of ‘business angels’ and, by      months in 00. FireAngel have extended their products
concentrating mainly on developing and marketing their     internationally, to 8 patents (either granted or in progress),
product, they saved money. Within  months, their         plus protection for a range of trademarks. A new name
product was independently tested to the relevant British   – AngelEye – has been registered specifically for the
Standards and available to buy in the UK.                  American smoke-alarm market.

Fire Angel eventually won a contract with B&Q for three    Sprue Aegis plc will continue to invest heavily in developing
months, which was followed by a two-year merchandising     new products for both the FireAngel and AngelEye brands.
agreement. Other national retailers also become involved   The company’s attitude is that they can only progress
and, within  months, the FireAngel PS-0                competitively if they continue to develop original products,
Plug-In Smoke Alarm was available in over 3000 shops       meaning that new patents are expected in the years to
across the UK.                                             come.




 The FireAngel PS-0 Plug-In Smoke Alarm was
 available in over 3000 shops across the UK.



                                                                                                                       7
Solio
Chris and his team at Solio knew that, in the growing      development agreement, allowing the manufacturer to own
mobile-phone industry, battery and energy technology put   50% of the solar technology. Once BES had developed
huge limits on the product. Phones were adding features    their actual design for ‘Solio plug into the sun’, they could
such as TVs and radios, but they drained the battery       then register their design with the UK Patent Office.
quickly. Chris saw huge advantages in using solar energy
– it’s environmentally-friendly, convenient and free!      BES also approached engineering firms in Germany
                                                           to run tests on the battery life and the toxic parts of the
Research showed that solar chargers already on the         equipment. They also worked with Motorola®, Orange®,
market didn’t work well, and were poorly designed and      Apple® and Vodafone®. These links gave Chris access to
marketed. Better Energy Systems (BES) wanted to            expertise that he did not have. However, every discussion
develop a brand that was a ‘must-have.’ To get a unique    meant that more people were learning about his new ideas.
design, Chris appointed a designer called David Fowler.    Chris used non-disclosure agreements and contractors’
                                                           agreements to make sure that anything created through
Chris then approached a US solar-energy manufacturer,      Solio was still BES’ property. As Chris said: ‘When anyone
who were making a similar product, but had no              is starting to develop a new product, who you talk to about
patent. Chris wanted to learn from them, as he had no      it is key... you don’t just disclose to everybody what you are
manufacturing experience and hoped to share the costs.     doing. If you do disclose, make sure you have a watertight
The discussions were successful and Chris signed a         confidentiality agreement.’




                                                               Chris and his team at Solio knew that, in the growing mobile-phone
                                                            industry, battery and energy technology put huge limits on the product.



8
Other Publications

Patents                                                                                                                            PATENTS: Essential Reading                                                                                                                                                   PATENTS: Application Guide




1. Patents: Essential Reading                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Patents: Basic Facts




2. Patents: Application Guide
                                                                                                                                                                  This booklet provides information you need to consider
                                                                                                                                                                    before committing yourself to applying for a patent, a
                                                                                                                                                                 summary of the patenting process in the UK and abroad.




3. Patents: Basic Facts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This guide is all about how to apply for a UK patent. Before you apply, there
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           are two important issues you need to consider – the need to keep your
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                invention secret and the importance of getting professional advice.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           If you invent something that could be commercially
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     successful, you may be interested in applying for a patent.




                                                                              UK Intellectual Property Office is an operating name of the Patent Office                                                                                                       UK Intellectual Property Office is an operating name of the Patent Office
                                                                                                                                                                                                    A DTI SERVICE                                                                                                                                                            A DTI SERVICE                                    UK Intellectual Property Office is an operating name of the Patent Office
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A DTI SERVICE




Designs                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            How to Apply to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Register a Design




4. How to Apply to Register a Design
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Designs: Basic Facts


5. Designs: Basic Facts                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This booklet will help you apply to register a design in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          the United Kingdom. It also includes information about
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    applying to register a design outside the UK.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This leaflet provides basic information on
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                some areas of design protection.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              UK Intellectual Property Office is an operating name of the Patent Office
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             A DTI SERVICE                                    UK Intellectual Property Office is an operating name of the Patent Office
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A DTI SERVICE




Copyright
6. Copyright: Basic Facts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Copyright Basic facts




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Copyright gives the creators of certain kinds of material
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                rights to control ways their material can be used.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              UK Intellectual Property Office is an operating name of the Patent Office
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A DTI SERVICE




Trade Marks                                                                                                                   Trade Marks: Essential Reading                                                                                                                                            Trade Marks: Application Guide



7. Trade Marks: Essential reading
8. Trade Marks: Application guide
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Trade Marks: Basic Facts

                                                                                This booklet, together with the booklet ‘Trade marks:                                                                                                                       This booklet, together with the booklet ‘Trade marks: essential
                                                                                application guide’, will help you apply to register a trade mark in the UK.                                                                                                 reading’, will help you apply to register a trade mark in the UK.




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