Sunday, 26 June 2022

The Accelerator's Showcase

Emily Roberts taking the Microphone from Olu
© 2022 Jane Lambert  All rights reserved


Jane Lambert

I mentioned the launch of the Menai Science Park's accelerator programme on 15 Feb 2022.  I returned to the science park on Thursday, 23 June 2022 for the accelerator's showcase before an audience that included angel and private equity investors.  The event took place in the park's atrium but was live-streamed over the internet using the hybrid events platform, Haia.

Haia was developed by a team led by Tom Burke who attended the accelerator programme. It was he who delivered the first pitch.  Tom had been one of the speakers at M-SParc's World Intellectual Property Day celebrations on 26 April 2022.  The progress that that already impressive business had achieved in less than 2 months is breathtaking.  It has recently transitioned from beta to a full-fledged contender in the fiercely competitive online conferencing market in which Zoom and Teams are already established.  By all accounts, Haia is more than holding its own.

The accelerator's first cohort consisted of eight projects several of which were represented at the showcase.  As well as Haia, the presentations included a system for monitoring calving, a language learning database that included learning mediums other than English, a device for spotting and booking self-storage space near a given location and the manufacture of bio-degradable packaging materials from seaweed and many other great ideas.  The showcase was compered expertly by the science park's operations and customer services manager, Emily Roberts who has overseen successfully all the events in which I have been involved.

At the start of the event, the park's managing director, Pryderi ap Phisiart, announced the launch of the science park's angel network.  I can't overstress the importance of that development because angels facilitate the leap from incubator to market.  Raising funds was the theme of last year's World Intellectual Property Day and Wales Enterprise Day celebrations and Emily plans to build on that theme at this year's Wales Enterprise Day. 

I spoke to several of the investors over a feast of jerk chicken (cyw iâr jerk) and rice and peas (reis a phys) from a trailer that offered "bwyd bendigedig" or Welsh Caribbean food lubricated by cocktails and soft drinks from an adjoining converted horse box.  The investors were impressed by what they had seen and several told me that they had brought their chequebooks.

Both businesses and their investors require the best possible legal, accounting and other professional services.  When M-SParc opened on 1 March 2018 tenants had to look east to Manchester, Liverpool or Chester for such advice and representation or south to Cardiff, Newport or Swansea.  Not any more. There is a cluster of experts that includes patent attorney Sean Thomas who has returned to Anglesey, specialist solicitors Andrea Knox and Jonty Gordon, IP tax accountants Steve Livingston, patent strategist and valuer Alison Orr, venture capitalist Ed French and IP insurer Ian Wishart.

I was reminded of the importance of M-SParc on Friday morning when I watched the film on the history of Nant Gwrtheyrn in its heritage centre.  The Nant was once a prosperous port that exported granite blocks known as "setts" for roadbuilding.  Workers from across the United Kingdom and beyond were attracted to the port and adjoining quarry  A photo of some of the maidens of the Nant shows them adorned in the latest styles long before the fashions reached the rest of the Llŷn peninsula. Sadly. demand for setts diminished as private car ownership expanded.  The Nant declined.  Its people moved away to find work elsewhere.  Eventually the settlement was abandoned. 

The history of Nant Gwrtheyrn is an allegory of the history of the region. The Nant was revived when it became a centre for teaching the Welsh language   M-SParc and other initiatives such as the Pontio Centre in Bangor are nurturing diversified knowledge-based industries that will provide employment not only for those already in the area but for many more from around the world.  Like the Caribbean food suppliers, these newcomers are contributing their customs and culture to Wales but in the process, they are becoming  Welsh.  Just like the English, Scots and Irish quarrymen and port workers who moved to Nant Gwrtheyrn 150 years ago.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact page.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

World IP Day 2022 - Celebrating the Creativity, Enterprise and Innovation of the Young People of Wales

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Today is World Intellectual Property Day.  Intellectual property is the collective name for the bundle of rights such as patents, trade marks, copyrights and registered designs that protect investment in brands, designs, technology and works of art and literature,  World Intellectual Property Day is an international festival that falls on 26 April of every year.  It marks the anniversary of the entry into force of the treaty that established the World Intellectual Property Organization, the UN specialist agency that coordinates international efforts to encourage, incentivize and reward artists, authors, broadcasters, designers, entrepreneurs, inventors, publishers and others. 

Every year World Intellectual Property Day focuses on a different theme.  This year it is "IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future."   The Menai Science Park ("M-SParc") on Anglesey has interpreted that theme as an invitation to celebrate the creativity, enterprise and innovation of the young people of Wales.  

In World IP Day: Celebrating the Creativity of the Young People of Wales I discussed how the super-talented young dancers of Wales's national ballet company will celebrate their creativity.   In It is About Rocket Science I wrote about Wales's expanding space industry and the massive opportunities open to talented young people as Spaceport Snowdonia develops a commercial satellite launch capability with its elegant new technology.  

Of course, none of this would be possible without entrepreneurs.  To celebrate Welsh enterprise we have invited Tom Burke, co-founder and CEO of Haia to talk about how his company and its meetings platform. He has already made a video for the Level Up Accelerator. 

M-SParc's main celebrations will be a webinar which I shall chair between 12:30 and 14:00 today.  Our speakers will include Nia Roberts, David Young of Spaceport Snowdonia, Tom Burke of Haia and Darius James of Ballet Cymru and his brilliant young artists.   There is still space on the call for those who want to attend it.   All you have to do is click the green button on the Eventbrite page and Emily Roberts or Jamie Thomas will send you a link,

Friday, 22 April 2022

World IP Day: Celebrating the Creativity of the Young People of Wales


Jane Lambert

As I said in  "World IP Day 2022: IP and Youth: "Innovating for a Better Future"  I wrote:

"The theme for this year is 'IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future.' At a video conference earlier in the year, Emily Roberts, Jamie Thomas and I interpreted that phrase as 'a celebration of the creativity, enterprise and innovation of young people around the world.' Accordingly, we agreed to celebrate the creativity, enterprise and innovation of the young people of Wales."

In It is About Rocket Science I discussed how the Menai Science Park ("M-SParc") plans to celebrate innovation, particularly in relation to the expanding Welsh space industry. Today, I focus on how we plan to celebrate creativity by reference to dance.

Wales is often called the "land of song" in acknowledgement of its choral and operatic traditions (see Why Wales is known as the ‘Land of Song’ BBC website). It is, however, just as much a dancing nation.  Its folk tradition with its exuberant grasshopper step is quite distinctive (see Hansh Addysgu Ameer - Dawnsio Gwerin).  Its national classical dance company, Ballet Cymru, draws on that tradition as can be seen from its appearance last year with Sian James at Eisteddfod Gudd.

Ballet Cymru was founded by Darius James in 1986.  The company describes itself as 

"a ballet company who like to do things a bit differently. We enjoy finding new ways to make what we do exciting, innovative and relevant."

That was true even in its early days as can be seen from this archive footage on its production of The Tempest from 1998.

Darius will be one of our speakers at M-SPaerc's lunchtime webinar for World Intellectual Property Day.  If you have not already got a ticket for the webinar you can register here,  He will talk about his company and its forthcoming performances of his new ballet Dream at Theatr Clwyd in Mold on 29 May and the Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre in Bangor on 4 June.  Even more importantly, Darius will discuss Ballet Cymru's DUETS programme which introduces ballet to children in the inner cities and rural communities who might not otherwise be exposed to the art.   I referred to the company's work with the children of Llanllyfni Primary School in How the Pontio Centre and M-SParc complement each other in the Social and Economic Development of Northwest Wales on 5 June 2020.   Darius also promises us a glimpse of what his super-talented young dancers can do to close the webinar.

This year's contribution to World Intellectual Property Day should be the best ever,   In addition to the lunchtime webinar, we shall hold an all-day exhibition at the science park where you can obtain information about Ballet Cymru, its performances and its outreach programme.   

Further Reading

Jane Lambert  IP and Dance 30 May 2019

Thursday, 21 April 2022

It is about Rocket Science

Author NASA  Rocket suspended from a balloon Public domain


Jane Lambert

In Celebrating Tecwyn Roberts I wrote how a young school student had been inspired to study natural sciences by the visit of Tecwyn Roberts to her junior school. That student was Nia Roberts and she will be one of the speakers at the Menai Science Park's World Intellectual Property Day celebrations for which you can register here.

Nia, like Tecwyn, left Wales to pursue a career in science.  She went to Munich where she was an examiner for the European Patent Office. Children at the school where Tecwyn and Nia studied now have a choice.  They can study and carry out research at the world's great universities or work for the world's leading companies and institutions or they can set up successful science-based businesses or find high-skilled and well-paid employment in their own country.

According to the UK Space Agency's press release of 13 April 2022, employment in the British space industry grew from 44,040 in 2019 to 46,995 in 2020.  It is now a £16.5 billion industry.  Employment in the sector more than doubled in Wales from 415 to 1,109.  British expertise in space lies primarily in the design and operation of small, low earth orbit satellites. They are used for weather forecasting, remote sensing, communications and many other applications.

Until now, British satellite owners have had to rely on the US and other foreign governments to launch their equipment into orbit but that is about to change.  As I said in The Space Industry in Wales. legislation was enacted in 2018 to enable space vehicles to be launched from the UK.  The UK Space Agency has recently published Launch UK, A Guide to the UK's Commercial Spaceports which lists the UK's launch facilities.

One of those sites is Spaceport Snowdonia which is based at Llanbedr near Harlech,  We are very lucky to welcome Mr David Young who is the manager of the aerospace centre and Llanbedr airport.  There are three competing technologies to propel a rocket into space: a multistage solid or liquid fuel rocket which is the Scottish approach; using an aeroplane to lift the rocket into high altitude which is the Cornish approach or strapping the rocket to a balloon which is the elegant, Welsh approach.  David will discuss all the facilities that are available at Llanbedr and what it needs to grab a lion's share of the launch technology market.

Tuesday's celebrations will be a webinar between 12:30 and 14:00 at which Nia and David will speak. There will also be an all-day exhibition in the science park to celebrate the creativity, enterprise and innovation of the young people of Wales.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

World IP Day 2022: IP and Youth: "Innovating for a Better Future"


Since 26 April 2019, the Menai Science Park (M-SParc) has led Wales's contribution to the worldwide festival of creativity, enterprise and innovation known as World Intellectual Property Day. Each year the festival focuses on a different theme. The theme for this year is "IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future."  At a video conference earlier in the year, Emily Roberts, Jamie Thomas and I  interpreted that phrase as "a celebration of the creativity, enterprise and innovation of young people around the world."  Accordingly, we agreed to celebrate the creativity, enterprise and innovation of the young people of Wales.

Wales's choral tradition is renowned but it is also a dancing nation.  Its classical dance company, Ballet Cymru has created a rich repertoire that features exciting new works such as Dylan Thomas – A Child’s Christmas, Poems and Tiger Eggs and Tir to the music of Cerys Matthews but also adaptations of Giselle, Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella for small casts in tiny theatres.  The company has presented those works in rural and inner-city venues around the United Kingdom and beyond.  Ballet Cymru's super-talented young artists will dance for us in their studio in Newport and their artistic director, Darius James will discuss their outreach work for the children and young people of Wales.

One of the leaders of the US space programme was an Anglesey man called Tecwyn Roberts.  He never forgot the junior school that had given him his start and he revisited it. at the height of his career.  One of the students of the school at the time of his visit was a little girl called Nia Roberts. Nia was inspired to read natural sciences at university.  She has also enjoyed a glittering career in science to inspire a new generation of school kids to follow her into STEM.

Tecwyn had to leave Wales for a career in space.  That is no longer necessary for Wales has a rapidly growing space sector which is attracting bright young men and women from around the world.  Representatives of that industry will outline some of the opportunities for new businesses in everything from telecommunications to remote sensing and mention the highly paid 
jobs that will be available to those who want to work in them.

All of that requires entrepreneurs ready to spot the opportunities and exploit them. Who better to talk about that infrastructure than Tom Burke, founder and CEO of the communications platform Haia. Tom will tell us how he developed Haia at M-SParc and how local financial and professional service providers have helped him to grow his business.

Tom, Nia, Darius and others will speak at a lunchtime seminar between 12:30 and 14:00 on 26 April 2022 that anyone anywhere in the world can join online.  Those who happen to be in M-Sparc on the day can also attend in person.  Register here to secure your place. There will also be an all-day exhibition at M-SParc on the Welsh space industry, Ballet Cymru, Haia and all sorts of other contributions to World IP Day in Wales and around the world. 

Further Reading

26 April 2022  Intellectual Property Office: Innovating for a Better Future: Intellectual property and youth

2 April 2022 Diwrnod Eiddo Deallusol y Byd / World Intellectual Property Day

March 2022  Nadine Hakizimana and Edward Kwakwa  Now’s the time for young people to switch on to intellectual property  WIPO Wire

28 Dec 2021  Jane Lambert World IP Day and Youth

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

M-SParc's Accelerator Programme

(c) 2029 NESTA, Standard YouTube Licence

The Menai Science Park's announcement of an accelerator programme in conjunction with Bangor University is potentially very important because startup accelerators like Y Combinator, TechStars and Seedcamp are among the reasons for the success of Silicon Valley.  They offer mentoring and networking with privileged access to investment.  They benefit both entrepreneurs and investors as well as the organizations that host those programmes.

Though the idea of selecting and nurturing a cohort of promising young businesses originated in the United States it quickly spread to Shenzhen, Hydrabad and the rest of the world including the United Kingdom.  There are now very successful accelerator programmes around Silicon Roundabout (roughly Shoreditch to the Olympic Park in Stratford), Silicon Fen (Cambridge) and Silicon Glen (St Andrews, Dundee and Edinburgh).  We even have our own Silicon Ginnel in Yorkshire which I mentioned in Accelerators and Incubators in the Leeds City Region on 22 Jan 2017 in IP Yorkshire.   I featured the Northern Max healthcare accelerator in Bradford on 12 Jan 2018 and was lucky enough to attend its demo day a few weeks later (see Jane Lambert NorthernMAX Demo Day 25 March 2018 IP Yorkshire).

For entrepreneurs who are considering an accelerator programme, I compiled an Accelerator and Incubator resource page in 2017.  Some of those articles have been written by me but there are also contributions from others.   The page needs to be updated but the basic information is there.  Up to now, there have not been too many accelerator programmes in Wales which may explain why a Cardiff fintech firm Delio travelled all the way to Dubai to join that emirate's accelerator (see Jane Lambert British Participation in Dunai FinTech Accelerator Programme  22 Aug 2017 NIPC Gulf).

Anyone who wants to join Sbardun (the M-Sparc and Bangor University programme) will have to move quickly because applications must be lodged by 17 Feb 2022.  Those who are chosen will undergo 
"A five-month programme for North Wales' top startups. Expert mentoring, a community of likeminded founders, your own global advisory board with powerful networks and exclusive opportunities for growth."

Almost certainly the businesses on the programme will establish brands and create new products and processes which is where patent and trade mark attorneys and IP lawyers come in.  They will also enter shareholders agreements with each other and investors which is where commercial lawyers can help.  A network of specialist advisors is rapidly establishing itself around the Menai region.  I wonder how long it will take for the name "Silicon Strait" or "Afon Silicon" to catch on.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form. 

Monday, 31 January 2022

Business Prenups

Jan Josef Horemans, "The Marriage Contract"

Although it is the last thing on a couple's minds while they are in love every marriage or civil partnership comes to an end through death or divorce.  That can sometimes result in a messy and expensive legal tangle in the Family Division.  A good way to avoid that outcome is for the couple to agree on who owns what and what should happen to their assets on death or divorce in a prenuptial agreement.

The same is true when it comes to launching a business.   Very few individuals have all the skills and resources necessary to launch a new product or service so they look to others for help.  Some may be friends and relations.  Others consultants and contractors.  Even business angels or private equity investors.  When all goes well they work together on developing, funding or launching their business, product or service and never spare a thought as to what should happen if they fall out or their joint venture fails.   

When that happens there can be litigation over who owns a patent or patent application in the Intellectual Property Office known as "entitlement actions" which I described in Disputes Over Ownership of Inventions on 6 Aug 2015 in NIPC Southeast, unfair prejudice or insolvency proceedings in the Chancery Division. That can be even messier and more expensive than family litigation.

Just as a prenup is a good way of avoiding or mitigating the disputes that would otherwise arise when a marriage comes to an end a written agreement with collaborators, consultants, contractors or investors as to who is entitled to apply for or hold a patent could avoid an entitlement or other dispute.  There is already a set of useful precedents for collaborations between businesses and universities known as the "Lambert Toolkit" which I mentioned in IPO Consultation - Business to Business Collaboration Agreements on 23 July 2018 in NIPC Northwest.  These can be adapted to similar collaborations with other parties.    Simple shareholders' agreements that are to be found in all kinds of businesses can also help.

I can advise on and draft such agreements as can my colleagues Andrea Knox of Knox Commercial Solicitors, Sean Thomas of Thomas Harrison IP and Steve Livingston of IP Tax Solutions.  So too can others at the IP Bar,  in specialist IP or commercial law firms, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and a few other specialist accountancy practices.    Anyone wishing to discuss this topic may call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.