A new service to help charities protect their IP

Posted on March 23, 2012 by

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MRC Technology, a technology transfer company that advises the MRC, has launched a new service to help charities and other research funders make the most of the intellectual property – designs, knowledge or technologies arising from research – and support the development of novel treatments. One of AMRC’s members, the MS Society, are the first to have had their grant terms and conditions reviewed by the service.

What is IP and why does it matter to charities?

IP – or intellectual property to give it its full name – is a design, knowledge or technology that results from an original idea. It can be protected under patent law, copyrights, trademarks or design rights. These give the holder the exclusive right to exploit the IP. In medical research, patents are the most common form of IP protection.

Medical research charities want to see research benefit patients by becoming the treatments and medicines of tomorrow. This occurs through commercialisation – a long and costly process. This is aided by IP protection, which ensures that every organisation that has been involved can share in the commerical opportunities that arise. This also means the charity will get its fair share of money resulting from the new treatment, which can then be invested into new research.

What is the new service?

MRC Technology was established in 2000 and ensures that the MRC benefits from innovations resulting from its research funding activities. The new service makes this expertise available to other organisations, including charities.

MRC Technology are offering in depth advice on how best to ensure that grant terms and conditions are fit for purpose, meet industry standards, and have the best chance of supporting the development of novel treatments. This would allow charities to check that their terms and conditions are up to scratch and researchers and investors working with them can be confident that they meet the same standard as the industry and research council collaborators they work with. It also means that charities can get access to experience and advice to make sure they capture the benefits from their research investments to re-invest in further research.

What does AMRC think?

AMRC members are encouraged to have terms and conditions attached to the grants that they award to researchers to ensure that the charity is made aware of and has a share in any resulting IP. In 2011, AMRC worked with our members to look at how this can be achieved by small and medium-sized charities (you can read the outcomes of that project here). It was clear that many of these charities do not have sufficient staff resources to have in-house IP advisors, so using a contracted-out model makes sense. The service offered by MRCT is one way of ensuring that a charity’s terms and conditions are fit for purpose, but as with all things, charities themselves will have to decide if the cost is worth the benefit.

Posted in: Research