0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 10 SPECIAL REPORT 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 10 10 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 00 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 10 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 10 0 10 0 10 0 10 0 10 10 0 10 0 10 0 10 0 0 0 10 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 00 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 10 0 10 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 Maximising the investment in your IP 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 10 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 10 0 1 10 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 10 10 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 10 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 CASH IN ON IP 0 0 10 0 CHART TOPPERS 10 0 1 TAKE BACK 0 0 10 1 1 0 CONTROL 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 10 10 10 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 10 0 10 0 10 0 2
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WELCOME INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
CONTENTS 6. TAKE BACK CONTROL In a Big Data society you must protect yourself 12. FINAL FRONTIER Bringing out-of-this world data down to earth 14. INSPIRED BY ENTREPRENEURS How one firm helps IP rich start-ups grow 30. TROLL-BUSTER A firm that helps businesses defend their valuable IP 34. MONEY UP FRONT How one firm helps businesses finance their research
Why should entrepreneurs care about intellectual property (IP)? Surely that’s the domain of giant multi-national conglomerates, with their vast research and development (R&D) departments and corridor after corridor filled with grey-haired boffins wearing white coats? Wrong. IP is at the very heart of innovative businesses, no matter what their size. IP isn’t just about copyright, patents and trade marks either. It includes your company’s trade secrets, your brand, your designs, the very fabric of what gives your business its identity. That’s why the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks IP League Table – run by Metis Partners and BQ in association with Johnston Carmichael, Jumpstart, Safeguard IP and Search-a-patent – is such an important campaign. It’s not just another one of those inane rankings that fills space in a Sunday newspaper or a business magazine – it’s about innovative entrepreneurs who are harnessing their IP to help grow their businesses. As David Hayers from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks explains in this special BQ2 supplement, the importance of IP is underlined by its ability to be the gateway to lending for fast-growing start-up companies. If you don’t have any physical assets – such as buildings or machinery – but you do have a safe full of IP secrets that you’re successfully exploiting then the bank manager’s door is open for a conversation. We also meet three companies that are making the most of their IP. Astrosat is a satellite data company based near Edinburgh, while Digitonic is a mobile marketing agency in Glasgow and Cambridge-based Metail is helping online retailers sell the right size of clothing. Three very different businesses but with one theme that ties them together – innovative products and services, underpinned by the clever use of their IP. Peter Ranscombe, BQ editor
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TANGIBLE ASSETS ARE ONLY THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
INTANGIBLE ASSETS ACCOUNT FOR UP TO 80% OF A COMPANYâ€™S VALUATION! LET US SHOW YOU HOW TO MONETISE THEM! METIS PARTNERS - AN INTELLIGENT APPROACH TO IP +44 (0)141 353 3011 | INFO@METISPARTNERS.COM | WWW.METISPARTNERS.COM
Stephen Robertson, founder of the awardwinning IP valuation firm Metis Partners, discusses the use and value of consumer data as an IP asset.
ow many companies hold your data? If that’s a question you are able to answer both honestly and accurately, then you are a special case indeed, for the data collection landscape has rapidly changed over the past few years. In the days of old, data collection amounted to names, post codes and phone numbers. Travelling salesmen would analyse their contact lists and personalise their sales chatter using the names of their audience. Cold callers would operate under similar tactics, leeching large contact databases and piecing together amalgamated lists of surnames and phone numbers to facilitate their roulette-like sales
It’s Time to Take Back Control techniques. Although these practices led to occasional successes, their deployment was as blatant as it was clumsy. But things have changed. The advancement of technology, rise of the internet and recognition of privacy has made the data collection of old child’s play. Today’s complex databases are capable of holding data both vast in quantity and complex in design – and the ways in which the companies are utilising them has evolved, too.
collection; one which transformed the entryspecific data gathering of the past into a passive iteration based upon tracking a user’s activity, rather than their direct response. With internet protocol addresses traceable and web browsers caching the habits of their operators, websites can now track user activities and, even more impressively, use that data to predict a user’s future activity. In practice, this amounted to e-commerce websites displaying advertisements of products that they knew specific online shoppers would
The true innovation of the noughties was the introduction of a new form of data
be interested in – sometimes even before the shopper would know themselves. When
these marketing tactics are deployed within a self-contained virtual environment, it’s hard to see a downside for the end user. It paints a picture that is both palatable and grounded in reality. Although the collection process itself is shrouded in mystique, it takes place in a signposted environment which users can choose whether or not to explore. Many users may be unaware of the permissions they are granting and the data they are handing over when they access these websites, but even the most tech-illiterate of consumers must realise that some form of information gathering is taking place when they enter these sites. This information gathering allows professionals to build vast banks of data and analytics which are becoming increasingly valuable in business models, and influencing the assumptions underpinning financial forecasts. This is a new form of IP asset.
FRIEND REQUEST Fast forward to 2017 and the environments these data collection tactics operate within are no longer closed ecosystems. The continued, almost unrelenting growth of Facebook and social media as a whole has changed the rules of the game when it comes to information gathering, and companies have changed the way they play it in response. A person’s Facebook account is both a technological pastime and an accurate character profiler for companies and large organisations to exploit. The information actively entered by users, such as friends, favourite movies, restaurants and hobbies etc., brings with it a whole host of analytical possibilities. More impressive, and, perhaps terrifying for the oblivious, is the passive collection of data that takes place on these social media websites. Facebook, for example, knows far more than your list of two hundred or so “friends”. It knows your social
circles. It can separate your close friends from distant acquaintances based on your online communication and activity. If you use your smartphone for anything other than phone calls, then it knows where you’ve been and where you’re likely to go, too. Taking a picture in a restaurant, for instance, and then uploading that picture to your Facebook account can enable the site to calculate your exact location when the picture was taken, notify the restaurant’s own Facebook page and then tailor future advertisements around your eatery preferences. Activities such as these signal a new dawn of the use of consumer data.
THE AGE OF CONSUMER DATA Consumer data is changing the very landscape of our society. Its impact is universal, such is the nature of today’s ever-connected world. Although digital mammoths such as Facebook are often the mothership when it comes to data gathering, microcosms designed to interact with larger entities are able to pick and choose the data they wish to extract and exploit, with the user’s permission of course. These microcosms range from gaming apps on smartphones to websites with social media APIs. Although they may seem unconnected, permission requests are streamlined and spoonfed to users to enable the sharing of their data across multiple platforms. This data sharing and slight-of-hand permission gathering can leave consumers bewildered as to how certain entities obtained key information about them, causing the everyday consumer to slowly lose track of who has access to their most valuable and private information. One of the cornerstones of the IP100 is data management; i.e. how entrants best manage, protect and exploit the data they have. Many of our IP100 entrants have demonstrated that they take tremendous care when handling
“Investors and acquirers want to know that a company has taken appropriate measures to protect and manage their IP, and data is no different.”
their customer data, with companies such as Good-Loop, Digitonic and Metail – all of whom scored well in this year’s “Critical Databases” IP asset class of the IP100 – using their collected data to enrich user experience. Not only does this improve their customers’ experience, but it also drastically increases the potential monetary value of the data that these companies hold. Investors and acquirers want to know that a company has taken appropriate measures to protect and manage their IP, and data is no different. Storing data in comprehensive, regularly cleansed and easily transferrable databases is a must for companies operating in this area if they wish to effectively monetise the data they hold, or if they hope to do so in the future. Consumers, too, can learn from good practices such as these, by taking more care of their personal data and protecting its integrity and use by others. Doing so will save consumers both time and money by not only reducing the quantity of spam emails, junk mail, cold callers and phishing emails, but also by reducing the likelihood of identity theft and financial fraud as a result of data leaks. Your data is valuable. Protect it as such. So, how many companies really hold your data? n
HOW TO T U R N I P I N TO LENDING Clydesdale & Yorkshire Banks’ growth finance team helps a broad range of businesses to borrow money based on the value of their intellectual property and has now hit a major lending milestone, as David Hayers explains
T’S been a busy time for David Hayers and his team. As head of growth finance at Clydesdale & Yorkshire Banks Group (CYBG), Hayers has overseen a record year, with the total amount that the team has lent to businesses since its inception breaking through the £100m barrier. But this isn’t any ordinary lending. The growth finance team helps businesses to borrow money based on the quality of their equity backing and the extent of their intellectual property (IP). IP is often a key asset of a fast-growing, early-stage business, but it is nearly always overlooked by lenders. Companies may have invested many hundreds of thousands or
even millions of pounds into developing their proprietary software or patenting a product or process that gives the company a competitive advantage. Yet, when it comes to securing finance, most institutions will look to tangible assets or even personal guarantees to secure a loan. As Hayers explains, rarely will the growth finance team see a business that has any significant tangible assets. Instead, the team consider the growth trajectory of the company, the extent and depth of the equity support and the nature of the IP. This approach can unlock a vital source of funding for these high-growth companies and taking on debt can often provide an attractive alternative to being
“the team consider the growth trajectory of the company, the extent and depth of the equity support and the nature of the IP.”
further diluted through a further equity round. “Last year was a record-breaking year, both in terms of the amount of money we lent and the number of companies with which we worked,” Hayers says. “That’s pushed us past the £100m mark, which is a massive achievement for the team and means that we’ve helped a significant number of businesses to grow.” One of those businesses was Blue Prism, to which the growth finance team provided a £2m facility and which is a world leader in robotic process automation. The company – which lists Accenture, Hewlett Packard Enterprises and O2 among its clients – raised £21.2m when it was admitted to the London Stock Exchange’s (LSE’s) Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in March 2016, valuing the business at £48.5m. Since then, Blue Prism’s share price has soared, with the company now valued at around £250m. In January, it posted a 59% rise in full-year revenues to £9.6m. Another customer was Reading-based ActiveOps, which writes software to help companies manage the performance of their operations. The firm, which borrowed £2m in March 2016 to fund further expansion, has offices in the UK, Ireland, India and South Africa and counts lenders such as Allied Irish Bank and Barclays and insurers like Bupa and Hiscox among its customers. “We saw a lot of software companies coming to us during the last financial year,” Hayers says. “Software firms are usually strong counterparties because they will often have recurring revenues, which helps to give us confidence about the sustainability of their cash-flow. “This year, I expect we will see an increase in the number of advanced manufacturing businesses that we help. Britain has a really strong reputation in this area and I don’t think we promote these types of businesses enough. “The UK Government’s new industrial strategy also places a heavy emphasis on the importance of areas such as advanced manufacturing and we’re very keen to play our part in helping those companies to grow. These are businesses that could have a major impact
“This year, I expect we will see an increase in the number of advanced manufacturing businesses that we help. Britain has a really strong reputation in this area and I don’t think we promote these types of businesses enough.”
on the growth of the UK economy as a whole.” It’s not just a wide range of industries that are accessing funds through the growth finance team – there’s also a spread of companies from different locations too. The team has members in Glasgow, London and Newcastle, giving it a good geographic spread throughout the UK. During the past year, the team has completed deals as far afield as Scotland and the North of England down to the Thames Valley and Hampshire. The team lends money through both the group’s Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank brands. “Most of our deals are completed outside London,” Hayers points out. “I think that’s important because it shows how we can support companies throughout the country, not just in the capital.” The growth finance team has also widened its net, so it can provide a range of loans, which now stretch from £500,000 through to £10m, with the average size sitting at about £3.5m. Some of its largest customers are already turning over £20m or £30m, but the majority have less than £10m in revenues. Some of the businesses among its “greatest hits” have gone on to attract the attention of international suitors. Livingston-based Touch Bionics has developed artificial hands that have helped scores of amputees throughout the world, with one of its arms even featuring on the music video that accompanied Will.i.am and Britney Spears’ hit Scream and shout. Touch Bionics was sold to Icelandic peer Össur in April 2016 in a deal worth £27.5m. The Scottish company had previously secured a £2.5m loan from Clydesdale Bank to help it expand overseas. Aircraft Medical, another life sciences company from North of the Border, borrowed
£2.1m to help it fulfil its export orders. The Fife-based business, which designed devices to help medics slide breathing tubes down patients’ throats, was sold in November 2015 to Meditronics for US$110m (at the time £72m). Innovation is nothing new for Clydesdale Bank, which was been backing entrepreneurs since it was founded in 1838. They included Margaret Gemmel, one of the first women to borrow from the bank, whose solid business plan convinced Clydesdale to lend her £100 in the middle of the 19th century to enter the rag trade. Even the lender’s banknotes celebrate the lives of inventors. Sir Alexander Fleming and his penicillin feature on the outgoing £5 paper note, while images of Lord Kelvin and his mariner’s compass rest proudly on the £100 note. In March 2015, the bank became the first in the UK to launch a polymer note. The design featured engineering innovator Sir William Arrol on the front, with his Forth Bridge and Titan Crane on the rear. A similar proud heritage underpins Yorkshire Bank, Clydesdale’s stablemate. Founded in 1859 by successful businessman Colonel Edward Akroyd, innovation was also at the centre of his vision. He let labourers open savings accounts with as little as a penny and he quickly introduced “school banks”, which got young people into the habit of saving. That interest in entrepreneurs has come sharply back into focus since February 2016 when CYBG was de-merged from its former parent company, National Australia Bank (NAB), and floated on both the LSE and the Australian Securities Exchange. The £1.6bn initial public offering and CYBG’s entry into the FTSE250 index marked the first time that the
“I’m really pleased with the outlook for this year. We’ve got some very exciting deals on the table, which I suspect we will complete over the coming months.”
business had been independent since the 1920s, following Clydesdale’s takeover by Midland Bank. Building on its record year in 2015-16, the group’s growth finance team has continued to back a broad range of IP-rich businesses during its current financial year. Among them are Edinburgh-based Ecometrica, which provides environmental monitoring and sustainability management software. Ecometrica borrowed £622,000 from the team in 2015, with a further £375,000 being lent in January this year. The company recently won a £14.2m contract from the UK Space Agency
to lead the “Forests 2020” project, helping developing countries manage and protect tropical forests. Forests 2020 will monitor 300 million hectares of woodland in Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya and Mexico. It is the largest contract awarded so far from the agency’s £150m International Partnership Programme and builds on the company’s success in leading a project under the previous International Partnership Space Programme pilot scheme in 2015. “Ecometrica is a great example of the type of business we can support,” says Hayers. “It’s gone from strength
to strength and the fact that it has the growth to underpin a second tranche of borrowing so soon after the first is really encouraging, both for us and for the business. “I’m really pleased with the outlook for this year. We’ve got some very exciting deals on the table, which I suspect we will complete over the coming months. “That puts us on a very firm footing to continue to help IP-rich businesses to borrow the cash they need to fuel their rapid expansion, without the need for their owners to go back to their investors and further dilute their equity stakes.” n
“When I left university, there was nothing happening in the space industry and the European Space Agency (ESA) wasn’t recruiting.”
LIFT OFF RE ADY FOR
Astrosat uses data from space to come up with a host of solutions for its clients back on Earth. Founder and chief executive Steve Lee explains why intellectual property is at the heart of the business Some companies talk about changing the world – but Steve Lee and his team at Astrosat are making it happen. The space services firm is helping to tackle a range of problems, from how to best provide emergency relief following an earthquake through to protecting the rainforests from illegal logging. The firm, is based at Musselburgh near Edinburgh, doesn’t just provide its clients with satellite data. It also supplies the information and analysis that those customers need to understand the data and apply it. “Our company’s motto is ‘Give us a problem and we’ll solve it with space’,” explains Lee, an astrophysics graduate from the University of Edinburgh, who launched his company in 2012.
“We’re driven by the belief that every problem has a space solution. Space is the nuts and bolts of our toolkit. “Space is a service like software is a service. We merge satellite and ground-based data to provide valuable information to a wide range of sectors. Lee’s idea for the company came after he had experienced success as an entrepreneur in the United States. As a skilled musician, he’d played gigs at his local pub to help him through university and to fund a technology start-up back in 2003. “When I left university, there was nothing happening in the space industry and the European Space Agency (ESA) wasn’t recruiting,”
says Lee. “I’d already decided that academia wasn’t for me and I was thinking about joining the RAF and becoming a helicopter pilot.” Instead, Lee went to Boston where he set up a geo-spatial mapping company. After selling his part of the business he came back to the UK but still found a “desert of a space industry”. “Then I met my wife and life started to get serious,” he says. “What I really wanted to do was start using my physics and to do that I had to launch my own company. Round about that time, the space industry was waking up and looking for new thinkers and innovative start-ups to work with. ESA opened up access to satellites so with my credit cards and gigging I set up Astrosat to develop commercial astronautics, space technology and Earth observation products. “My wife became pregnant around the same time so there was a lot going on and I won’t say it wasn’t stressful,” he recalls. “She told me to get a move on and get the company started before my son was born and we did that with a
couple of months to spare. We managed to buy some data and get things up and running – and even make some money. There was no looking back.” That data – thermal information that morphed into ThermCERT, a carbon emission reduction spin-out – was a pivotal point for Astrosat. ThermCERT uses space-based technology to plan and track investment in heating systems, a technology described as “a thermal and hyperspectral Google Street View”. ThermCERT went on to win ESA recognition in the form of the prestigious Copernicus Award. Astrosat has continued on its stellar prize-winning trajectory with other major ESA Masters Awards for its products WaveCERT, WinterVision and RoadTask, along with the 2015 Copernicus Masters Smart Cities and Intelligent Transport Challenge, sponsored by the Satellite Applications Catapult, for its eXude urban flood monitoring application. The eXude system provides an advanced flood-monitoring tool that makes use of the latest in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and radar altimetry data-processing techniques for flood identification and mapping, including in urban areas. Coupled with the ability to receive additional data sets, the system provides information on drainage capabilities and hazard assessment, or infrastructure failures within flood management infrastructures, In 2015, the UK Space Agency awarded Astrosat one of seven contracts to work with international partners to develop satellite technology in emerging economies. The Recovery and Protection in Disaster (RAPID) involves working with partners including the Vietnam Ministry of Science & Technology. The system provides a vital link between critical satellite imaging information and “in the field” emergency responders making crucial decisions during and in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Huge amounts of data are produced by satellites that can be used to mitigate the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. RAPID is designed to get this information to where it is needed and to who needs it, allowing the right decisions to be made in order to protect lives and get the local economy working as soon as possible after an event. Along with the other six projects, it was funded
“I’d already decided that academia wasn’t for me and I was thinking about joining the RAF and becoming a helicopter pilot.”
through the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Space Programme (IPSP), and demonstrated how UK satellite or space technology can provide societal and economic benefits to countries that do not currently have such capabilities. Fast-forward to 2017 and Lee’s boyish enthusiasm hasn’t waned in the slightest. New contracts mean turnover this year will be between £4m and £5m and the 25-strong workforce – or “crew” as Lee likes to call his team – will rise by another eight in the coming months and “probably reach around 50” by 2018. In December 2016, Astrosat was one of the youngest and “lesser known” companies to win three contracts as part of the UK Space Agency’s £150m International Partnership Programme (IPP), which followed on from the IPSP pilot scheme. The programme uses people’s space knowledge and expertise to provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies – in other words, to address real-world problems. One of the contracts, worth £2.5m, follows on from the IPSP work, further developing RAPID in Vietnam. Under the two-and-a-halfyear project, Astrosat is acting as the prime contractor and is working with Telespazio Vega, Vietnam’s Ministry of Science & Technology, and the Vietnamese Space Committee to support typhoon landfall prediction, assessment of critical infrastructure during floods, flood extend mapping, and humanitarian and disaster response situational awareness. Another contract, FMAP, is helping to fight the illegal removal of timber from fragile rainforests in Guatemala. The £6m deal – a major coup for Astrosat, which again is acting as the prime contractor – involves the firm developing a ground-breaking “CCTV in the sky” system in partnership with UK and US-based company Earth Observation to monitor forests and detect illegal activity. Other partners in the three-year FMAP project are Deimos and Telespazio Vega, along
with several organisations in Guatemala, including the Guatemalan National Forestry Institute and ARCAS, a not-for-profit non-governmental organisation formed in 1989 by a group of Guatemalan citizens who became concerned as they saw their precious natural heritage – especially their wildlife – rapidly disappearing before their eyes. The third contract is for the £11.4m EASOS project in Malaysia. Astrosat is part of a wider consortium, with its share of the project worth around £1m. “Earth observation can be a highly useful tool for smart decision-making,’ says Lee. “When you know what is happening, even in the most remote locations, decisions that save a lot money can be made. With satellite communications you can find solutions to all sorts of problems on Earth and technology transfer helps identify technologies that can be used commercially for everyone’s benefit, particularly when it comes to helping undeveloped nations and developing economies.” There’s no doubt that Scotland’s space industry is booming. Research published by London Economics on behalf of Scottish Enterprise has shown that Scotland has the potential to grow its role in space from a fledgling industry to a £4bn industry by 2030, as part of the wider UK aim of quadrupling its revenues to £40bn over the same period. “Intellectual property (IP) is at the very heart of our business,” Lee adds. “Our innovations are what set us apart from our competitors and help us to fulfil our clients’ needs. “When you have strong IP like we do, it means you can come up with new solutions for customers. If a client comes to us with a problem that we haven’t tackled before then we can use our IP and our expertise to help them out. “We entered the IP100 because we wanted an independent assessment of how well we’re managing and exploiting our IP. We’ll be able to use the results to help us get even better at helping our clients.” n
Shaun Millican, head of technology and life sciences at accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael, is helping IP-rich start-ups to grow their businesses and is plugging them into the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem
CCOUNTANCY is sometimes caricatured as a somewhat boring profession, dominated by bank reconciliations, purchase ledgers and spreadsheets drowning in row after row of figures. Shaun Millican begs to differ. As head of technology and life sciences at Johnston Carmichael, Scotland’s largest indigenous accountancy firm, Millican and his team get to interact with some of the most innovative and exciting companies in Scotland. And some of the entrepreneurial magic from those businesses is clearly rubbing off. “Working with management teams that aspire to take on the world is inspiring for us,” admits Millican. “Every week we are meeting new or existing clients that have global ambitions – they won’t all be successful in those ambitions, but it’s still inspiring for us to hear that belief that they aspire to the world stage.”
Millican knows how those start-ups are feeling when it comes to setting up a business. He joined Johnston Carmichael in 2002 when the Aberdeen-based firm was opening its office in Edinburgh, its first in the Central Belt. He was one of the original four members of staff that set up the office in Scotland’s capital city, building a client base from scratch. Having studied accountancy at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and trained with another firm in the city, the chance to be in on the ground level and build something new was too hard to resist. “There were just four of us and four telephones, so we had to get out there and win work,” he remembers. “Our story resonates with a lot of the start-up companies that we work with. “They know that we went through the same growing pains as them when we were starting our business. That helps to give them the confidence that we know what they’re facing and how we can help them.” That help for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. In the past, accountancy firms would have simply kept records and produced annual financial statements for auditors to examine, but now Johnston Carmichael can offer its clients advice at each and every stage in their company’s journey. “We provide a range of services, depending on what stage a business is at on that journey from developing an idea through commercialisation to exit,” Millican explains. “We provide various accounting support services, making sure their financial functions are fit for purpose no matter at what stage they are. “We provide audit assurance services – a lot of clients will require audits, particularly after raising funds or when applying for grants. We can help with grant applications and grant audit reporting. “We also provide an array of services surrounding investor tax reliefs like the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), such as
“Sometimes it’s a much fuller engagement that’s required, where we’ll go out to the market and assist them in trying to raise the money.”
helping clients to get advanced assurance or once they have received investment going to HM Revenue & Customs to get the authority to issue certificates. Millican has seen the firm’s Edinburgh office grow from just four staff to its current complement of more than 120 people. But its base in the capital is only the tip of the iceberg. Having been founded in 1936, the practice has grown to encompass nearly 700 staff and partners spread across 11 offices. Turnover has broken through the £40m barrier for the first time, with revenues edging up by 3% in the year to 31 May to £40.8m and pre-tax profits rising by 5% to £11.6m, making Johnston Carmichael not only the biggest home-grown accountancy firm in Scotland but one of the 20 largest in the UK. The practice now has more than 14,000 clients across a range of sectors, from infrastructure firm Galliford Try to Edinburghbased Stewart Brewing and educational charity Inspire.’ More than 500 of those customers work in technology and life sciences, including business analytics firm Barrachd – the name of which means “more” in Gaelic – and healthcare technology firm Snap40. While Johnston Carmichael’s staff can offer a range of services in-house, the firm also connects its clients to a much wider network of business contacts. The firm is a gold sponsor of Engage, Invest, Exploit (EIE), Scotland’s premier technology investor showcase. Taking place in May 2017, the event sees 60 of Scotland’s most innovative tech start- ups pitching to global investors. By working with these various start-ups on their EIE journey, Johnston Carmichael can assist with their fundraising ambitions, access to specialist tax reliefs, or refining their pitch presentations, amongst many other things.
“When it comes to assisting companies with fundraising, sometimes it’s a lighter touch that’s needed,” Millican says. “We can provide support to the management team with its business plan or financial modelling. “Sometimes it’s a much fuller engagement that’s required, where we’ll go out to the market and assist them in trying to raise the money. “We’re a member of PKF International, which is a global network of like-minded accountancy firms, so we can also help companies that are looking to set up overseas. PKF has about 150 offices around the world, so we can make sure that firms get the right local advice to help them. “A med tech start-up might be different from a software start-up or from a data science start-up but there are common issues that most of them will experience around fundraising and growth and talent. We want to try to bring our over-arching experience to bear by explaining what clients see in other sectors.” When it comes to intellectual property (IP), the firm is also well-connected. It can put clients in touch with specialists to help them protect their innovations and it can also help those companies to harness their ideas. “What’s common across these sectors is that our clients generally have some form of propriety IP that they’re looking to exploit to disrupt the market,” says Millican. “Sometimes that’s registered IP and sometimes it’s just know-how. “From a purely IP perspective, we will plug those clients into advisors to register IP or make sure their legal contracts are robust. Companies can make mistakes very early on with their IP and so part of the reason for us bringing our experience to the table is to help them avoid those pitfalls.”
“The other part of the challenge comes in attracting senior management talent. We try to help with that by plugging people into our network, especially the group of nonexecutive directors who we work with.”
Millican highlights the fact that some of the issues faced by IP-rich companies – such as fundraising and attracting the right talent – are the same across the board. “When to raise money, how much to raise and who to raise it from are perennial questions,” he muses. “Talent is becoming a big issue too. Part of the challenge is attracting the right talent to the team to help it grow. “There are obviously some very established tech companies in Edinburgh that grab a lot of talent, but they also attract a lot of talent into Scotland as well. Some of those people will go on to work at other tech companies, while others will leave to start their own businesses. “The other part of the challenge comes in attracting senior management talent. We try to help with that by plugging people into our network, especially the group of non-executive directors who we work with.” Millican cut his teeth at accountancy firm Scott & Paterson, where he helped one of the partners to work with tech clients. When he joined Johnston Carmichael, he was given a blank sheet of paper to create his practice and so he saw an opportunity. Fifteen years after helping to set up the firm’s Edinburgh office, Millican’s passion for technology is undaunted. “When we opened the office, the technology and life science
sectors were seen as having great potential,” he explains. “The combination of universities and angel investors in Edinburgh – and indeed across Scotland – creates a great opportunity to work with early-stage companies that are spinning out and attracting investment. That has continued and has expanded over the past 15 years.
“One of my first clients was a medical technology start-up, which we worked with for several years until the founders exited. There were lots of lessons we learned along the way. “It’s an important sector for Scotland, with the transition from old-fashioned manufacturing to the knowledge economy. It’s going to be crucial for sustainable and innovative growth.” n
Sharp minds for those at the cutting edge. At Johnston Carmichael, our experts are more than just accountants. We help you challenge the status-quo, identify opportunities for improvement and practical solutions to problems.
THE S E A RC H I S
ON When intellectual property (IP) professionals in industry or their patent attorneys need to find specialist information relating to patents or registered designs they call on the services of Search-a-patent. Dene Parker, managing director of the firm’s UK operations, explains more about the company’s work.
ntellectual property (IP) and innovation are the driving forces behind many of the UK’s most successful companies, as well as some of the newcomers that are joining the IP100. Professional search results are a crucial source of information to make sound business decisions. Research and development (R&D) is an extremely expensive process, but it is vital. Nobody wants to invent the wheel twice or waste time and money on unnecessary litigation, which is why Search-a-patent has
designed a process to maximise the return on R&D investment by structured IP development models. Founded in Sweden in 2007, Search-a-patent set up its UK operations in April 2016. The company is already dealing with some of the country’s biggest patent attorney firms, as well as several major industrial players. The process the company has designed begins at the very start of the R&D journey, when there is just an idea on how to solve a problem and before an actual product takes
shape. “At this pre-project stage, a feasibility check is undertaken,” explains Dene Parker, managing director at Search-a-patent’s UK arm. “During the feasibility check, a client will: establish what it wants to achieve; establish how it will achieve it; what present rights it holds; what rights it needs to license or buy; what it needs to develop; and potential risks, markets and infringements. “We answer those questions by conducting a ‘state of the art search’. This is a market analysis essentially showing how other inventors have approached the same problem. What other technical solutions are out there? Are they better than your idea? What are their strengths and weaknesses and what infringement risks are you likely to incur with the development.? “Based on those answers, management can decide whether to stop the development or proceed to the next stage. If, through our findings, the sensible thing is to stop now then
“We answer those questions by conducting a ‘state of the art search’. This is a market analysis essentially showing how other inventors have approached the same problem. What other technical solutions are out there. Are they better than your ideas?”
at least this decision has been taken at an early stage and not following a huge investment in the actual development or production process.” Avoiding expensive mistakes or diversions is an important part in the R&D process, allowing companies to focus on where they can get the best value for money. Weeding out ideas that won’t work can also save businesses large amounts of time. “If the findings are favorable, we then
proceed to the development stage, where the novel features of the product you intend to invent are defined,” Parker continues. “Based on these, we would then conduct a ‘novelty search’ to determine the potential patentability of the product. “The results of this search lead to an IP evaluation and the IP strategy around the invention. Do you proceed with a patent application or keep it as a trade secret? Do you need to license in technology to support your
“When I sit down and show patent attorneys or people in industry what our system can do then they’re very impressed. They tell me that they’ve not seen anything like it before.”
patent application? If you proceed with a patent application it would be sensible to engage us, at this moment in time, to carry out a ‘patent watch search’. This monitors new patents in the area of the technology and your competitors. “We now enter the pre-production stage, where you define the product and the production process in greater detail. You then instruct us to carry out a ‘freedom to operate search’. You may have a successful patent application on the novelty features, but other product details or the way you intend to manufacture the product may infringe existing patents. “Following the clearance from our freedom to operate searches’, your new product is launched and we move to the post-production stage. Here you would continuously ask us to conduct patent watches on your competitors. “In addition, we would carry out patent landscaping’. This shows the market development trends as visualised in a technology landscape. “The comprehensive system that I’ve described for every stage of the R&D process is suitable for companies of all sizes. It is just an efficient model on how to maximize the return on your R&D investment.” Parker points out that another huge advantage of using Search-a-patent is the unique way that the company presents the search results through its own software tool, “Reporteditor”. This displays the results in a concise and clear customised frame, with all the information categorised under appropriate tabs including full access to all available
information on the patent database. “Many of our competitors will perform searches, but will send back the results as an ineffective Word, PDF or Excel document and will include too many irrelevant hits that are cut and pasted into the report and link customers to, for example, Espacenet, which IP professionals then have to wade through,” Parker explains. “With Reporteditor, you receive the results of a search all in a single online report with information categorised under appropriate tabs and designed for collaboration and effective work between IP professionals. “With other systems, you usually have to open up a spreadsheet and then click again to open up various PDFs. Our search results are presented in a clear and concise way – it’s all designed to save you time. “As a partner at one of the tier-one law firms in London put it, ‘The less I pay for a search, the more work I have to do’. “She also added that this is crazy as she is the most-expensive part of the process and she can hardly charge her client for hours looking at documents provided, many of which turn out to be irrelevant. Instead, we carefully filter out the irrelevant documents and only present what you need to see. “Our services are sometimes more expensive than our rivals, but that’s because we deliver a higher-quality service.” As well as expanding into the UK, the business is also targeting the sophisticated IP markets in Germany, Israel and the United States, principally in California. “Search-a-patent is big enough that you know you’re getting a high level of expertise – both among the experienced patent staff in
Sweden and the search engineers in Israel – yet small enough that you can pick up the phone and speak to one of those experts,” says Parker. “If you ask one of the big American companies to carry out a search for you then it will disappear into a black hole – you’ll get the search results but you won’t be able to ask questions of the person who carried out the search. “That expertise is important because patent searching should be done by a qualified and experienced patent engineer. Up until fairly recently, the UK Intellectual Property Office provided a search service, but it pulled out of the sector once private companies started to enter the market. “When I sit down and show patent attorneys or people in industry what our system can do then they’re very impressed. They tell me that they’ve not seen anything like it before. “A lot of people may think that patent searching is only relevant for big companies. But it’s relevant for the small business around the corner too – we can help anybody who has IP or who is developing a product.” Another popular option is the ability to fine-tune searches once they are underway. The patent experts and searchers at the company will quiz their clients in-depth so that they make sure they understand the brief; once the search is underway and results start coming in, they will then liaise with the customer to check if the search strategy needs to be refined, depending on the early results. The firm was formed by Zack Amir, who came from an engineering and product design background. Amir was joined by Claes Pantzar, who was head of patent department at the
“Our services are sometimes more expensive than our rivals, but that’s because we deliver a higher-quality service.”
Swedish Patent Office before going on to be chief executive of Zacco, one of Scandinavia’s largest firms of patent attorneys. They created the company with former patent attorneys Richard Lettström – who was also chief executive of Zacco, a senior partner at patent attorney firm Hynell, owner of RWL patents and an examiner at the European Patent Office – and Peter de Bellmond, who was one of the Swedish patent office’s senior examiners, a patent specialist at Zacco and the owner of IPS Ltd, a patent search and analysis company. The group also includes New-tone and Bycite in Israel, and Patentest in the United
States. New-tone is the home of the group’s search team and is made up of 12 scientists and patent engineers with expertise in all the required technology fields, including pharmaceuticals, medical technology, high- and low-voltage electronics, automotive, information technology (IT), aerospace, marine, robotics and others. New-tone also handles sales in Israel and in the US through a subsidiary in California, while Bycite is the group’s R&D company, which developed Reporteditor and Autosuggest. “I like the idea of the IP100,” adds Parker, who was one of the speakers at the Global IP Confex in London back in March. “We should
be very proud in the UK that we are a country that’s known for innovation. “We are known for having small start-up companies that grow and get somewhere. We have a high-level of entrepreneurship in the UK, which is matched by innovation, so I’m very pleased to be on board with the IP100.” n for more information contact Dene Parker at email@example.com
The IP League Table ranking process is based upon the assessment of five IP asset classes – Brand & Reputation, Patents, Critical Databases, Software and Trade Secrets. These were chosen to highlight companies that are using their IP assets to create effective barriers to entry and the competitive advantages needed for growth and international expansion.
his year, we have been both thrilled and overwhelmed by the growth and developments centred around the IP100 in 2016/17. The IP100 now exceeds 100 companies, with many new entrants hailing from bold, pioneering industries, such as biomimetics and virtual reality software. We’ve hosted numerous IP100 Club events throughout the year and across the UK; highlighting the quality of our IP100 entrants to potential investors and shining the spotlight on intellectual property (“IP”) strategy by utilising a variety of guest speakers. These events, supported by IP100 Champions, including LSEG ELITE, Olswang LLP and MBM Commercial LLP, have not only provided even more opportunities for our legacy entrants to strengthen their IP portfolios, they have also enabled our new stream of entrants to integrate smoothly into the IP100 community. The IP100 has become the UK’s fast growing marketplace for scalable and IP-rich companies seeking investment. One facet that is particularly pleasing about the new wave of entrants is that, despite the youth of their industries, the quality of their IP portfolios is impressive. Of course, this is to be expected, for IP is often the most valuable asset in emerging new businesses, especially when innovative technology is the figurehead for their planned future growth. It is a privilege to meet so many of these new entrants and learn more about the IP within their businesses. This is an opportunity that both I and the entire IP100 team are thankful for. The IP League Table ranking process is based upon the assessment of five IP asset classes –
Brand & Reputation, Patents, Critical Databases, Software and Trade Secrets. These were chosen to highlight companies that are using their IP assets to create effective barriers to entry and the competitive advantages needed for growth and international expansion. Our criteria also encompass a wide variety of IP assets – both formal and informal – seen to be the most critical for businesses and important to investors and funders. I am pleased to reveal that the top-ranked companies were M Squared (a photonics technology company), Adrok PGM (a company specialising in geophysical services for the identification and exploration of natural resources) and P2i (a company specialising in liquid repellent nanocoatings). Both M Squared and P2i entered the IP100 as newcomers this year, and their inclusion in the top three highlights the quality of company that the IP100 is still able to attract. I would like to deliver my wholehearted congratulations to each of them, and also to every IP100 entrant for their outstanding achievements over the past twelve months. 2017 saw a shift in industry spread within the IP League Table, with B2B Software representing 27% of entrants, which is close to a 50% increase from the previous year. This increase was not unexpected, as B2B Software companies often seek to fundraise early in their lifecycle based on the strength of their IP alone, and being a part of the IP100 helps businesses better achieve this goal. Closely following B2B Software as the IP100’s dominating industry was both Business Services and Consumer Services, each of which
registered at 24%. Perhaps this increase in both Business and Consumer Service entrants shows that companies are finally starting to see the true value in assets often lacking in protection, such as brands and databases. It was also particularly insightful to see that entrants incorporated from 2011 onwards are implementing much more robust trade secret policies than their experienced counterparts, which, in turn, led to them scoring higher in that area on average. Counterbalancing this fact is the way entrants have been scoring in Software, with companies incorporated between 20012005 scoring highest in this particular asset class. This is perhaps down to the relative youth of software start-ups’ technology, which often leads to a lack of documentation behind the software code itself and a lack of protection procedures in place. More mature companies have had many years to create this kind of documentation, and develop their software coding, testing and protection strategies. As well as giving each individual entrant new insights into their own IP strategies and IP management rating, the IP League Table provides a unique perspective on how IP assets are managed and treated in the UK as a whole. The IP League Table offers a real insight into the effectiveness of IP management techniques and how IP assets are viewed across a range of companies and industries. Our proprietary ranking process has proven to be a valuable and constructive benchmark, and has become a reliable indicator of the likely IP wealth of companies involved. – Stephen Robertson, CoFounder of the IP100.
TOP 20 ENTRANTS
Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems
Grid Smarter Cities
Standard Life Employee Services
Cytomos Data Conversion Systems Deep Tek Winch IP Dmist Research Dogtag Double Your Success Downhole Energy Eagle Genomics eeGeo Emotional Sciences Enkelt Exmos FusionExperience Geospatial Insight Global Surface Intelligence Good-Loop Greengineering Hard Hood Clothing Hermes Apps Hyperdrive Innovation Intelligent Plant Jones Publishing
K2L KB Group (UK) Kegsoft Kids Innovations Development Koolmill Systems Lexus International Lifescaped Malinkey MevGen Technologies Miituu MindGenius Mussett Engineering (6t9 Technology) Nostrum Group Opinurate Pacifica Group PingGo R&G Associates LLP Redu Group RimPro-Tec Shyre Smith & Sinclair So To Company
BRAND & REPUTATION
Like last year, Brand & Reputation was the most consistently highest scoring asset class for the 2017 IP League Table. It was even more interesting to see how far many entrants have come in this area since they were scored last year, with many making significant improvements to their social media and marketing strategies. Last yearâ€™s highest placed entrant for Brand & Reputation, Jones Publishing (a publishing and events platform under the Citywealth brand), retained its spot at number one this year, with Adrok PGM placing in second and Dogtag (a company offering an innovative travel insurance for athletes and adventurers) following in third. Adrok leapt up the table thanks to its high customer retention rate and robust trade mark strategy, while Dogtag made real progress with brand sponsorships and endorsements, gaining valuable exposure from many popular bloggers who have begun to promote the brand.
OTHER IP 100 ENTRANTS 20|20 Business Insight Activity Banking Acuutech Affective Logic Altia Solutions Anatom Appointedd Art Retail Network Bactest Bad Idea Organisation C.I.C Bio ID Security Biogelx BrandFour Breaking Free Online BrightOffice CC Technology CDC Scotland Centrepoint Computer Services Cleansorb CompanyNet ContractsWise Cyberhawk Innovations
Soapurity SoDash (Winterwell Associates) Spedian Speech Graphics Sphere Fluidics Spot Seven (Mativision) Sunstore Technologies Swipiicard Syrinix Tookie Torion JVG Totseat TTS Pharma UK Doorstep Choice UWI Technology Visual Products (Visorcat) Wearable Technologies WeeWorld (WW FQ) WFS Technologies Worldline Worldteachers Recruitment Zikodrive Motor Controllers
1 Jones Publishing 2 Adrok PGM 3 Dogtag 4 Metail 5 M Squared 6 Encompass Corporation 7 Standard Life Employee Services 8 Data Conversion Systems 9 RimPro-Tec 10 Digitonic 11 WeeWorld (WW FQ) 12 Intelligent Plant 13 P2i 14 MuJo Mechanics 15 Connect-In 16 Sphere Fluidics 17 Spot Seven (Mativision) 18 20|20 Business Insight 19 CompanyNet COREX (UK) 20 KEY
Industry % Consumer Services/Consumer Manufacturing/ Distribution & Retail
Oil and Gas
Business Services/Business Manufacturing & Distribution
The following tables highlight the results obtained from the scoring of entrants. The process involves an assessment of IP-specific data linked to the following IP asset classes: Brand & Reputation, Software, Patents, Trade Secrets and Critical Databases. The IP100 research team uses its proprietary process to calculate an IP score and subsequent ranking for each company.
It was tight at the top of the Patent table this year, with first-placed P2i and runner-up Lifescaped (a new entrant focussed on researching natural structures and procedures to create biomimetics) leading the pack thanks to their wide patent portfolios spanning across multiple key territories. Both companies also carried out significant due diligence before filings to ensure the patent landscape was in their favour. M Squared was not too far behind in third place. Although the Oil & Gas sector prominently features in our top 20 Patents table for the second consecutive year, there was also a clear rise in the presence of Biotechnology firms and those specialising in Business Services.
1 P2i 2 Lifescaped 3 M Squared 4 Adrok PGM 5 Wearable Technologies 6 Sphere Fluidics 7 Cleansorb 8 Deep Tek Winch IP 9 Kromek 10 WheelRight 11 Dmist Research 12 COREX (UK) 13 Heald 14 Metail Mussett Engineering (6t9 Technology) 15 16 Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems 17 Payfont 18 MuJo Mechanics 19 LUX Assure Kids Innovations Development 20 KEY
Industry % Consumer Services/Consumer Manufacturing/ Distribution & Retail
Oil and Gas
Business Services/Business Manufacturing & Distribution
B2B Software companies yet again made up the bulk of the top 20 list for Software this year. There was very little separating entrants in this category this year, with the cream of the crop including Spot Seven (Mativision) (a company offering virtual reality live streaming software) in first place, Adrok PGM and its geophysical analytic software in second, and Kromek (radiation detection solutions developer) in third. Interestingly, Software was the highest scoring asset on average across every industry sector. This is certainly pleasing to see, as software is steadily becoming one of the most valuable assets a company can own, and companies are more comfortable having their own dedicated software developers as opposed to relying on third party development teams. It is therefore no surprise that companies are beginning to do all they can to properly manage and protect their bespoke programs, and correctly document their software development and testing processes to better communicate the scalability of these assets â€“ something that should be core to a companyâ€™s growth strategy.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Spot Seven (Mativision) Adrok PGM Kromek Appointedd Synoptica CC Technology Miituu CompanyNet Metail Stevenson Astrosat Grid Smarter Cities SoDash (Winterwell Associates) MindGenius P2i FusionExperience Dogtag Connect-In Kegsoft K2L Torion JVG
This year saw Stevenson Astrosat (experts at sourcing, analysing and deploying satellite driven data) and LUX Assure (a company providing revolutionary new technology to detect, measure and monitor chemical concentrations) continue to be top of the Trade Secrets table. In third-place were COREX (UK) (a specialist in geological services for oil and gas), with newcomers M Squared and Spot Seven (Mativision) making up the top 5. They were able to achieve this by implementing robust trade secret policies and raising a real awareness of the issue within their businesses. Both held similarly comprehensive trade secret policies in their arsenal. Much like last year, there was real diversity in the scoring of Trade Secrets. Many companies recognised the importance of trade secrets and acknowledged they have assets that may qualify as such, but had not yet formalised the capture or protection of their trade secrets. Statistics showed that only 18% of entrants had an official trade secret policy in place. This highlights that Trade Secrets is an area where companies have room to make significant improvements. Oil & Gas entrants featured throughout this year’s top 20, which is understandable, considering trade secrets can often act as a complimentary asset to patents, which are also well recognised in this industry.
13 Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems
Spot Seven (Mativision)
14 20|20 Business Insight
15 Sphere Fluidics
16 Torion JVG
17 Data Conversion Systems
19 Visual Products (Visorcat)
Smith & Sinclair
20 UWI Technology
Critical Databases is another asset class where there was very little separating the top entrants. This year at the summit of the top 20 was Digitonic (a mobile marketing company), with Miituu (an innovative video system that enables organisations to record, manage and share digital stories via their own private video channel) coming in second, and Metail (a company that has developed software allowing online shoppers to digitally try on clothes) taking third spot. Our scoring process indicated that not only are entrants comprehensively storing the data they collect, but they are also using it to their own advantage, with 71% of entrants carrying out analysis of their data and using this to inform future marketing efforts. However, not all entrants have such tools available to them, with 44% storing their data in Microsoft Excel as opposed to using a dedicated software platform. It will be interesting to see the rise of data in future IP League Tables as investors recognise the importance of data and analytics in a successful business model and in any developing market.
11 Worldteachers Recruitment
12 Adrok PGM
13 Desktop Genetics
Global Surface Intelligence
15 TTS Pharma
16 Redu Group
18 M Squared
Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems
20 COREX (UK)
“As well as giving each individual entrant new insight into their own IP strategies and IP management rating through their scores in each IP asset class, the IP League Table provides a unique perspective on how IP assets are managed and treated in the UK as a whole, highlighting trends around specific IP asset types”
E L I B MO G N I T E K R S MA L A R O M WITH Grant Fraser, chief executive and co-founder of mobile marketing agency Digitonic, explains how the company is using its intellectual property to acquire and retain customers for its clients – but without compromising on its morals MENTION the phrase “mobile marketing” to the average consumer and you’ll be greeted by a barrage of profanities about spam emails and text messages, about everything from reclaiming payment protection insurance (PPI) to ambulance chasers. But Grant Fraser likes to do things differently. “I genuinely could have retired on the amount of money we’ve turned down from companies that deal with PPI claims,” explains the chief executive of mobile marketing agency Digitonic. “We’ve never undertaken any marketing campaigns that have related to PPI, pay-day loans, accident claims or anything else you would deem to be spam. We knew that the brands that we wanted to work with wouldn’t want to be associated with an agency that had undertaken that kind of work, so we’ve turned it away.” Those clients now include a blue-chip names, running from car companies like Audi and Renault and retailers such as Bensons for
Beds through to National Lottery operator Camelot along the way. The work Digitonic undertakes for its clients falls into two streams – either helping to acquire new customers or helping to retain existing customers via smart mobile marketing using pioneering technology that the company has built at its Glasgow head office. Fraser developed the idea for the company during 2010 and launched the business the following year with his co-founder, Iain Wilcox, who serves as director of marketing. “I realised the future of marketing would be on mobile devices,” Fraser remembers. “Although there were companies in the UK that claimed to specialise in mobile marketing, when you stripped it away there was actually no mobile marketing expertise.” Specialising in marketing for devices like mobile phones and tablets has the company has grown from its initial two staff to a team of 12, with revenues rising from £100,000 in its first
year to £2m in each of the past three years. As well as its base in Glasgow, the business has an office at Harpenden on the edge of London. “Around 90% of our business comes from companies headquartered in London, so it was important to open a base there,” Fraser explains. Some of the company’s technology was developed out of Fraser’s own personal experience. “What I hated was when I was on holiday in America with my wife and children and I would get text messages from the brands that I was a customer of back at home in the UK,” he remembers. “Very few people turn their phones off on holiday so when those texts came in at three o’clock in the morning they would wake you up. So, we built a tool that allows our clients to validate mobile numbers and determine if they’re overseas or not – if they are then it automatically removes them from the marketing pot so they don’t get woken up.
“The big driving force over the past four years has come from the text message,” he adds. “Brands were sending just basic text messages, they weren’t even personalising them, which was just crazy. “They were using shortened website addresses through services like bit.ly that were linking to landing pages that didn’t even work on mobile devices. We created a way of providing rich content, including bespoke optimised landing pages before anyone else was offering them – we could embed content such as television adverts. Digitonic now expects turnover to at least double thanks to a range of new products and services that the company has created. Those new platforms include Entr and mDoc. “When you go into a hotel or a restaurant and you want to connect to its wifi service, you normally have to fill in a form, giving some of your marketing details, like a phone number and email address,” says Fraser. “The system that we’ve built can then recognise your phone the next time you return, logging onto the wifi network in the background, so the brand can learn more about how long you spend in its location. “So, for example, if you go to the same pub every Friday evening after work and you leave at the same time then our system can predict when you’re likely to leave. A few minutes before it expects you to leave, it can send you a text message with a special offer for, say, a meal for two that will encourage you to stay longer or come back again.” Entr can also be used to help people who are addicted to gambling. “At the moment, if someone wants to self-exclude themselves from gambling then they need to go into a bookmakers’ shop and fill in a long paper form at the counter, while everyone around them is placing bets,” says Fraser. “Staff in the shop are expected to recognise customers when they come in and refuse to serve them if they have filed the self-exclusion form.
“If a bookmakers’ shop is offering wifi to its customers and a self-excluded person comes into the shop who’s registered on the system then the manager and staff can automatically be sent a text message telling them not to serve the customer. “At the same time, the customer will be sent a text message reminding them that they can’t be served and directing them to sources of help for their gambling addiction. Digitonic’s other new product, mDoc, allows companies to produce rich content for their marketing text messages, including animations and videos with sound. “Companies weren’t using multi-media messages) because they were relatively expensive,” Fraser explains. “So, we developed mDoc to allow them to embed rich content into standard text messages. That’s really helped us to grow our business – we’re the only ones who can do it, which makes it quite exciting. “Our unique selling point (USP) is the technology that we’ve built,” Fraser adds. “That’s why we scored so highly in the IP100 league table. “We didn’t fully appreciate how much intellectual property (IP) we had generated since launch because it’s technology that we initially built for our own use to make our campaigns successful. We’re delighted that large brands have adopted our technology and are reaping the rewards. Our other USP is our approach to marketing compliance.” Digitonic’s morals don’t simply extend to picking and choosing its clients carefully and looking for socially-responsible uses of its technology. The company has also subjected itself to outside scrutiny to make sure it measures up. “We were the first company to have our techniques audited by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) within its new
membership audit, as we went to it and asked to be,” says Fraser. “We wanted independent verification that none of our work could be misconstrued as intrusive or as spam. “We work closely with the DMA and are fully transparent with it. We spend a lot of time and effort and money ensuring that we remain at the forefront of lawful and compliant marketing, including attending events like the recent E-Privacy Directive Review at the European Parliament in Brussels.” “The market is becoming much for sophisticated and, with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) kicking in next year, being at the forefront of compliance – like Digitonic is – will help the company grow and achieve our ambitious expansion plans. “I am really looking forward to 2017 – the pioneering technology and the experience that we’ve gained over the past six years has built fantastic foundations. We’re pulling together a dream-team advisory board to help us to capitalise on the opportunity that our IP is giving us.” n
g n i l l se e u q s the i n r u SP) i at u “O t (U y th n poi nolog .” t h tec e buil v we’
Taking on the trolls David Bloom launched Safeguard IP to help businesses meet the cost of defending their intellectual property in court. Now, his company is helping its clients in the fight against threats from China, Japan and the United States
ROLLS sadly no longer only live under bridges. Whether it’s hate-filled remarks on Twitter or lies told about stocks and shares in online chatrooms, trolls have invaded many aspects of our daily lives. Intellectual property (IP) hasn’t escaped the onslaught either and British companies doing business in the United States have found out the hard way that trolls can be nasty wee creatures. “IP trolling began becoming a big problem in the United States around 15 years ago,” explains David Bloom, the founder of Safeguard IP, the UK’s only dedicated IP insurance broker. “Trolls would raise money from investors and then go around buying patents from businesses and inventors. “Trolls would then approach companies and accuse them of infringing the technology covered by those patents. In the US, even if you successfully defend your IP in court then you must still pay your own court costs.
“That means that if a troll is demanding 100,000US$ not to take you to court then that will be a lot cheaper than the 2mUS$ it may cost you to defend your IP in front of a judge. It’s like a modern-day version of the mafia – companies are being shaken-down to get money out of them. “Fortunately, changes in legislation have reduced the power of the trolls. But it’s a serious threat that British companies still need to be aware of though if they’re doing business in the US.” Bloom knows all about the importance of defending IP. After studying management science at the University of Manchester, he trained as a lawyer with the College of Law before later gaining a postgraduate diploma in intellectual property at the University of Bristol. He spent 15 years as an IP litigator with Roiter Zucker Solicitors, Pinsent Masons, and Olswang. His entrepreneurial streak then came
to the fore and he set up Safeguard IP in 2014. “I used to hear a lot of companies complain about the cost of defending and enforcing their IP,” Bloom explains. “It always struck me as a fundamental flaw in the IP system – if a company had spent all their time and effort in capturing and registering their IP but needed deep pockets to enforce their rights then that seemed wrong to me. “IP litigation can cost a lot of money because it is a specialised area of the law and claims tend to be labour intensive with significant amounts of evidence needed to sway the judge.” “That’s where the idea came from to offer insurance to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to help them meet the cost of defending their IP in court. When I started out, both the challenge and the excitement was educating the market about IP insurance – even many patent attorneys and IP lawyers didn’t know it existed.”
When Bloom launched Safeguard IP, only a tiny number of IP insurance policies were being written in the UK each year. That figure is now growing and Bloom has continued to innovate in the field. In September, he assisted in the launch of the Opus 100 plan, a comprehensive IP insurance cover for businesses with turnover of less than £5m. The policy provides worldwide enforcement, defence, damages and agreement cover and protects the insured’s entire IP portfolio and all its declared products. The premiums are also innovative – £500,000 of annual cover costs £3,500, plus insurance premium tax, while £1m of cover costs £5,000 plus tax. “Before we launched Opus 100, that level of cover would have cost between £10,0000 and £15,000,” Bloom points out. “It also speeds up the time it takes to get cover. Previously, it would have taken a month or so to get a quote, but now the process is conducted online and is virtually instantaneous – it’s almost like buying car insurance. The policies are underwritten by Lloyd’s of London.” Bloom specialises in advising SMEs about the benefits of IP insurance and, in December, Safeguard IP became the latest partner for the IP100 intellectual property league. Trolls aren’t the only threat facing UK businesses from overseas. IP insurance is now readily available to Chinese companies operating overseas. “If a British company spots a Chinese firm infringing its IP then it could well face an opponent with deep pockets,” Bloom warns. “This could be a big threat to British companies. “There’s a similar issue in Japan, where the government is now subsidising IP insurance premiums for Japanese companies that are trading abroad. Again, this means British companies could be up against opponents with lots of financial backing behind them.” Safeguard IP is working with the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to promote
“There’s a similar issue in Japan, where the government is now subsidising IP insurance premiums for Japanese companies that are trading abroad. Again, this means British companies could be up against opponents with lots of financial backing behind them.”
insurance to British companies. “The UK IPO is very concerned about the developments in China and Japan,” Bloom says. “It’s also very concerned about the number of small businesses not bothering to obtain patents because of the cost of enforcement. A line they often hear is that ‘There’s no point in getting patents because if someone infringes us then we don’t have the £200,000 we need to enforce it’. That is why it is raising awareness about the benefits of IP insurance.” Threats don’t just come from abroad either. Closer to home, the increasing number of companies being created means IP is a hot topic. “We’re living in an entrepreneurial age,” says Bloom. “Around 500,000 companies are being incorporated each year and each one is creating its own IP, whether a brand, innovative product or design or creative content. This inevitably leads to companies bumping up against each other either intentionally or otherwise. “Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) show that about one quarter of small businesses have experienced IP infringement over the past five years. That shows the scale of the problem.” The FSB’s IP report also demonstrated just how important IP is to small businesses. One third of firms reported that more than 75% of their revenues depended on their IP,
with 26% of companies holding at least one IP right, such as a patent or trade mark. “Most businesses will insure their physical assets against harm – such as buildings, cars or employees – but many don’t insure their IP, even though it’s the most important asset in their business,” Bloom says. “And with the risks to IP growing, both in the UK and abroad that is a serious oversight.” Efforts are being made to make it easier – and cheaper – for entrepreneurs to protect their IP. In 2010, the Patents County Court was transformed into what is now the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC). The reforms that created the IPEC were designed to lower the cost of IP litigation for SMEs’. The IPEC hears cases in England and Wales, while in Scotland the Court of Session deals with most IP cases, except for a small number of copyright and trade mark disputes, which are handled by the Sheriff Courts. IP actions in the High Court can cost from £500k up to many millions” Bloom explains, ”now, the costs in IPEC are around £100k to £200k, which is a lot better but still a lot of money for small businesses. “That’s why SMEs are increasingly interested in IP insurance to help meet those costs. It’s not just about having the confidence that you can defend your rights if you’re accused of infringing someone else’s IP – it’s also about being able to assert your rights too if you spot someone else copying your products or services.” n
3434 bqlive.co.uk Partner
INNOVATIVE FUNDING FOR INNOVATIVE IDEAS Jumpstart made a name for itself by helping firms to access research and development tax relief. Now the consultancy has come up with an innovative way to help fund those activities, as managing director Brian Williamson explains
ESEARCH and development (R&D) is at the very heart of businesses that innovate. Whether it’s creating a product that will turn an industry on its head or coming up with a service that will disrupt a market, R&D is the launch pad that sends entrepreneurial companies on the path to success. Jumpstart’s mission is to make sure its clients receive the recognition they deserve for their hard work. The Edinburgh-based consultancy helps companies to claim Corporation Tax relief against R&D spend, which was introduced in 2000 by then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown Since Jumpstart was launched in 2008, the business has helped companies to reclaim nearly £100m, giving them the cash they need to go from start-ups to scale-ups and fund further innovation. For large businesses, the scheme can deliver a net benefit of 8.8% (after tax), while smaller firms can claim back up to 26% of qualifying costs, highlighting the size of the opportunity.
Building on the success of its bread-andbutter operations, Jumpstart has been looking for other ways that it can help its customers. The company, in partnership with a finance house, is busy developing a service that will lend cash to clients based on the R&D tax relief they are forecast to claim from HM Revenue & Customs. “We expect there will be three streams to the new service,” explains managing director Brian Williamson. “The three phases will suit companies at different stages in the R&D process. “At the moment, if a company has its yearend in December then we would normally take a look at its accounts once they’ve been prepared and advise on what level of R&D tax relief it could claim. The company would normally receive that relief around six months after its year-end. “In our first stream, we would look to speak to the client before its year-end – in November, for example – and advance it the
There is still quite a bit of development work to be done but Williamson is confidant Jumpstart can get there. “It is testament to the expertise of Jumpstart and our reputation as the purists within the R&D tax relief marketplace that large financial institutions
amount that we forecast it will reclaim from HMRC. That means the customer is getting the cash about six months earlier than it normally would. “In the second phase, we could visit a client mid-way through its financial year and calculate what it is likely to reclaim in R&D tax relief. If we were to advance the client that sum at that stage in the process then it would be receiving the money a whole year earlier. “The third phase is perhaps the most innovative and most disruptive – if we sit down
with a client and work out how much R&D work it’s going to carry out at the start of its financial year and advance it the money at that stage then that company is getting the cash in its hand 18 months earlier. That means it is getting the money it needs to fund its R&D in the first place.” The service could open its doors as early as October, in time for businesses that have their year-end on 31 December. An initial pot of £5m is likely to be available to test the demand for the innovative scheme.
would rely on our due diligence to make a lend at the risker end of the lending spectrum,” he says. “This idea is likely to appeal to intellectual property (IP)-rich companies. There has to be a global advance in science and technology to allow a company to claim R&D tax relief. “IP-rich businesses are more likely to make larger R&D tax relief claims than firms operating in traditional industries. That’s because they’re carrying out more ground-breaking innovation. “IP is like the hub at the centre of the wheel, with lots of spokes coming off it. If you have strong IP at the hub then those spokes can include services such as R&D tax relief or borrowing against the value of your IP.” Coming up with such innovative ideas is nothing new for Jumpstart. The company was launched from an attic flat by founders Richard Edwards, Don Galloway and Stuart Wyse, with Williamson coming on board in the early stages as a consultant and then taking over as managing director in 2012, as well as investing in the business. Wyse had been running an R&D tax relief consultancy in Canada and was one of the first people to bring the idea to the UK. Instead of employing accountants to analyse its clients’ figures, the firm uses its technical expertise to spot what’s innovative about its customers’ R&D processes. The business now operates throughout the UK. Having established itself in Scotland, it is now gaining a greater share of the market South of the Border. One of the important drivers for Jumpstart’s own growth came in 2014 when it raised £3.4m in equity funding from the Business Growth Fund (BGF), the £2.5bn investment vehicle launched in 2011 by Barclays, HSBC,
“IP is like the hub at the centre of the wheel, with lots of spokes coming off it. If you have strong IP at the hub then those spokes can include services such as R&D tax relief or borrowing against the value of your IP.”
Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered. BGF initially invests between £2m and £10m into a business in return for a minority equity stake and a seat on the board; the companies it backs are privatelyowned or listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) and typically have revenues of between £5m and £100m. As well as providing cash to help grow the business, BGF introduced the company to Jim Faulds, who became its chair. Faulds is best known for founding his eponymous advertising agency, which became the largest in the UK
outside London. Williamson is no stranger to innovation himself. After studying for his diploma in mechanical engineering from Glasgow Caledonian University, he gained management experience at first Weir Pumps and then across a range of companies in various industries, including construction, electronics, heavy engineering, oil and gas, and petrochemicals. He started his first company in the automotive sector in 1995 and – after building the business over three years to £5m of revenues before selling his stake to his fellow
shareholders – he switched into oil and gas, where he started his next business. He sold the company to its management team in 2004 and began investing in start-ups. Along the way, he had become chief executive of The Learning Organisation (TLO) in 1999 and led a management buyout in 2000. TLO helped more than 80,000 people to start their own businesses and provided training for a further 25,000 each year, with Williamson selling his stake in 2007. Now, alongside his role at Jumpstart, he is also chair at Glasgow-based recruitment firm
“If a bank lends money to a business then it’s not going to wait until the end of the 18-month loan period to monitor how the company is spending the cash. Instead, it’s going to want to see monthly management accounts so it can keep an eye on the situation.”
Brightwork and an “entrepreneur in residence” at Kissing with Confidence, a business development consultancy in Glasgow. He was also one of the early supporters of We Are The Future, the international entrepreneurship organisation launched by Bruce Walker. While the concept of receiving a cash advance based on potential R&D tax relief claims sounds very attractive, Williamson is quick to point out the need for accurate and detailed record keeping. If a finance company is prepared to stump up the money based on Jumpstart’s judgement then it will need reassurance over the figures. “To start with, keeping accurate records is essential because it shows that you’re in control,” he explains. “A sign of a successful company is that it’s on top of its finances and is keeping detailed records so it knows what’s its
financial position. “Record keeping becomes even more important in situations such as ours, where we’re looking at advancing cash to a client. It helps to satisfy the burden of proof. “If a bank lends money to a business then it’s not going to wait until the end of the 18-month loan period to monitor how the company is spending the cash. Instead, it’s going to want to see monthly management accounts so it can keep an eye on the situation. “I expect that the same will be true when it comes to the third stream of our scheme. If a finance company has advanced cash to a client 18 months ahead of when it will receive the R&D tax relief then it will want to monitor how the money is being spent. “If we receive monthly reports then we’ll be able to monitor the R&D project and say to
the finance company ‘Yes, the client is 99% to plan or 103% to plan’. If it’s down at only 48% to plan then that’s when we would start needing to have conversations with the client and the finance company.” While R&D may sound like the domain of boffins wearing white coats in laboratories, Williamson highlights the broad spread of businesses that can apply for tax relief. “It’s not just about companies working in life sciences or big data,” he says. “Bakers may well be carrying out R&D without realising it when they’re creating recipes or solving problems in their production processes. When it comes to farming, we’ve helped a broad range of companies, from those developing nutrients for livestock through to those producing machines to help spread slurry for growing crops.” n
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D E T A C I D E D F S R E W O L L O F
N O I H S FA
Chief technology officer Jim Downing explains how Metail is helping shoppers to see how the clothes they’re viewing on a website will fit them in real life
eturning unwanted items costs the online retail industry £20b a year and the problem looks likely to get larger. Chief technology officer Jim Downing and his colleagues at scale-up Metail may have come up with the answer. The company has developed technology that allows customers to see how clothes being sold on websites will fit their body shape. The firm takes photographs of thousands of garments from six angles and then uploads the information to the cloud. Shoppers then type their dimensions – into a retailer’s website and then Metail’s software produces an image that shows how the item in question would fit. Founder Tom Adeyoola came up with the idea for Metail in 2008 and teamed up with Duncan Robertson to test whether there was a commercial demand for the concept, filing their first patent in 2009. Downing joined in 2010 and the team spent the following two years developing its software. Tesco’s F&F fashion brand became the first paying customer in 2012 and the company has been going from strength-to-strength ever since. The firm now has 60 members of staff. As well as its technology office in
Cambridge, the company has a base in London and offices in Singapore and Seoul in South Korea. Metail also outsources some of its work to a partner based at Bangalore in India, giving it scale beyond its size. Some of its biggest customers include Abof in India and Adayroi in Vietnam, along with clients in Singapore and Taiwan. Opening a base in South Korea will allow the firm to expand into another fashion-conscious market. “There are some interesting differences when it comes to doing business in Asia,” Downing explains. “The position in which our technology normally sits on a UK webpage is one of the prime advertising positions in Asia, which retailers can’t give away, so we’ve had to adapt to that. “There are also issues when it comes to gathering data. Customers in India, for example, won’t know their
western bra size, so we ask for an over-clothes bust measurement instead. “Asia isn’t just one market, so there are technical differences too. In South Korea, many shoppers have the very latest high-end handsets and access to internet speeds of 150Mb/s on their mobile phones – but in India, many people will only have very basic entry-
“I had worked for a tech start-up after graduating from university,” Jim explains. “I’d wanted to get back into that space.”
“When I asked to see what they’d inputted into the computer system, they said that
level Android phones and so their experiences are completely different. “Languages are also a hurdle. We need to rewrite the instructions, but make sure they cater for any cultural subtleties. Metail is using Amazon Web Services, which helps to make its technology available more quickly around the world. A service location has been established in Singapore, with the option of taking space in Tokyo too. If the company starts working with a retailer in a new location then it can have access up and running within about six hours. Next on the international expansion hit list are Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Further improvements to the technology itself are also under development. “At the moment, we offer what you could call 2.5-dimensional images,” says Downing. “The next step is to offer three-dimensional images by taking more photos of the garments. That will allow us to offer complete 360-degree views of the clothes. “I’m very lucky as CTO because I can ringfence money for research and development (R&D). Intellectual property (IP) and innovation are at the heart of the business and Tom and the rest of the board recognise that, which makes it much easier for me. “Having spent the first two years with the company investing heavily in R&D, it’s become an important part of our model.
“Along the way, we’ve also won a number of grants from the old Technology Strategy Board and then later Innovate UK. We’ve also made good use of the R&D tax credits system.” He was working as a software officer at the University of Cambridge before joining Metail. “I had worked for a tech start-up after graduating from university,” he explains. “I’d wanted to get back into that space. “Duncan and I knew each other from windsurfing together. Metail felt like the right company because I trusted the founders, I could see the commercial demand for their product and the technology is truly innovative and has many applications.” As well as honing its technology, Metail also has plans to develop the vast amounts of data that it has created. “The data analytics that we’ve carried out could be used by retailers to improve their marketing to customers and the designs for their ranges,” Jim points out. “Ultimately, the data about measurements could also help retailers to adjust the sizes of their clothes so they fit their customers better. That’s an exciting possibility.” A further development could come around helping retailers to capture more data about returns. “When I took those trousers back to the shop to return them, I gave the shop assistant a very detailed description about why they didn’t fit, so that they could feed it back to the company,” Jim explains.
all they’d done was tick the box that said ‘Unwanted item’ because that’s what they did for all returned clothing. All that very rich and detailed data on why items are returned is being lost. “We’re starting to work with shops and third parties to begin to capture that information, which should help to improve the whole process. We can use machine learning to help spot patterns. There’s a real ecosystem growing up around how companies can be smart in the way in which they handle data.” One of the more unusual applications of Metail’s technology came on the television programme Good Morning back in 2013. “That was one of my favourite projects,” smiles Jim. “It was a feature called ‘Takeover the makeover’. Good Morning selected one of its viewers to come to the studio and have a makeover. “We scanned 30 or 40 items of clothing so we could use split screen technology to show viewers at home what the person in the studio would look like wearing those clothes. In the days running up to the programme, viewers at home had to suggest which outfits might suit the person and then on the day the person had to choose what they liked best – the clothes chosen by the fashion expert in the studio or those chosen by the other viewers at home.” A quick look around the offices of most tech companies will prove that they live up to the stereotype of their staff wearing jeans and T-shirts. So, has working with so many fashion retailers improved Jim’s dress sense? “If anything, I’ve got more casual since joining Metail,” he laughs. “Working for a tech start-up is all-consuming, so it doesn’t leave much time to think about buying fashionable clothes.” n
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