Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Partnering for Prosperity: A new deal for the Cambridge- Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc

The National Infrastructure Commission is an executive agency of the Treasury. It consists of a chair, a deputy chair and 9 commissioners. It offers impartial, expert advice and recommendations to the government on economic infrastructure which includes energy, transport, water (drainage sewerage and flood management) and digital communications. Its objectives are to support sustainable economic growth across all regions of the UK and improve competitiveness and the quality of life,

In March 2016 the Commission was asked to consider how to maximize the potential of a corridor running between Cambridge and Oxford via Milton Keynes "as a single, knowledge-intensive cluster that competes on a global stage, protecting the area’s high-quality environment, and securing the homes and jobs that the area needs." It delivered an interim report in November 2016 which identified lack of adequate and affordable housing as a major impediment to growth and recommended investment in new housing, job creation and better transport.

In its final report, Partnering for Prosperity: A new deal for the Cambridge- Milton Keynes-Oxford Arcwhich was published on 17 Nov 2017, the Commission urged the government to make the corridor a national priority. It proposed new road and rail links between the towns and cities in the arc and massive house building and job creation including new town development on a scale last seen in the 1950s and 1960s.

The report highlighted some of the area's strengths:
  • Cambridge generates 19 times more patents than the national average;
  • productivity in Milton Keynes is 25% more than the national average;
  • Northampton has more business startups per 10,000 inhabitants than any other city except London; and
  • Oxford is a leading hub for bioscience, medical tech and physical sciences.
Better road and rail links and new housing are essential to maintaining and building on those strengths.

Anyone wishing to discuss the legal implications of these proposals should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

East of England Science and Innovation Audit

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Jane Lambert

Science and innovation audits map the research and innovation strengths and infrastructure of specific districts. They were announced by Jo Johnson MP when he was Minister of State for Universities and Science in a speech to the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre of the University of Sheffield entitled One Nation Science on 16 July 2015. They are intended to "provide an evidence base for decision making on local innovation priorities, help strengthen future bids for local investment, and foster collaboration between universities, local businesses and other regional organisations."

One of the areas in which such an audit has been carried out is the East of England. A consortium consisting of representatives of the advanced manufacturing and materials, agri-tech, information and communications and life science industries and several of the region's local enterprise partnerships published the East of England Science and Innovation Audit on 25 Sept 2017. The audit was conducted between January and May of this year and engaged well over 200 stakeholders. It relied on both primary and secondary evidence and data and adhered to central government guidance.

The audit revealed great strengths in the region in each of the above-mentioned industries but it also exposed gaps in investment, skills, co-location and connectivity. The audit made a number of recommendations to address them:
  • Building innovative capacity, particularly among SMEs throughout the East of England;  
  • encouraging technology transfer, particularly for SMEs outside the main clusters in the East; 
  • Smart enabling technologies testbed: an infrastructure project to achieve high speed and high capacity connectivity throughout the region; 
  • Centre for AgriFood automation at Holbeach; 
  • A project to accelerate the development of emerging med-tech hubs and to build synergies;
  • Precision medicine cancer ecosystem; and
  • A cell and gene therapy R&D centre at Stevenage.
Each of those initiatives will need specialist legal advice. They will require contracts and other legal instruments. Any new products or processes that may be developed will require legal protection. I can help with all of that. I can assist in contract negotiations and drafting, advise on the optimum protection for the new technologies, review and draw up licences and, if necessary, help resolve any disputes or other difficulties that may arise. I can be consulted by business leaders, investors, academics or others directly or through patent and trade mark attorneys or law firms. 

Should anybody wish to discuss this article or innovation generally, he or she may call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact page.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

From Newton to Darwin

Jane Lambert

Last year Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership celebrated the inventions and innovations that had taken place in its area over the centuries by publishing a list of some of the greatest under the hashtag #100innovativedays. The list started with Sir Isaac Newton's Discoveries and ended with Darwin with Charles Babbage's analytical engine, the discovery of DNA, Europe's first test tube foal and the Sangar Institute.

With one of the world's great research universities in its area, major scientific discoveries are to be expected but not all the inventions and innovations listed come out of Cambridge University.  The Joyner Bolt, for example, was designed in Wicken, near Ely, by a chartered surveyor and carpenter. It is described as "a revolutionary new task specific spiked timber fixing for joining timber to timber or timber to metal." It was invented in response to problems constantly experienced with coach bolts and threaded rods.

Autoglym car wax is another development that was developed outside the universities,  It was created in Welwyn Garden City in 1965 (see a Passion for Perfection on Autoglym's website).  The company went on to develop other car care products which are now exported around the world. Probably just the sort of business that the green paper, Buiding our Industrial Strategy, would have had in mind when it mentioned (see "Harnessing the Potential of the UK's Home Grown Inventors" - The Government's Proposed Industrial Strategy 24 Jan 2017 Inventors Club).

Accounting for 1,977 of the UK's 14,870 patent applications (see page 5 of the IPO's Facts and figures Patent, trade mark, design and hearing administrative data 2014 and 2015 calendar years) the East of England is one of the most innovative regions of the UK trailing only London and the South East in the number of UK patent applications.

Should anyone in the region require some initial advice on the legal protection of his or her new product or brand or wish to be signposted to some of the resources available in the East of England and elsewhere in the UK I shall be very glad to give him or her up to 30 minutes of my time free of charge (see Immediate IP First Aid Nationwide 25 Jan 2017 Inventors' Club). If you want to take advantage of this service, call me on 01603 343030 or 020 7404 5252 during office hours to or send me a message through my contact form.