Sunday 29 October 2023

Wales Enterprise Day - Wales's Relationship with Ireland".

Dublin Castle
Author Donaldytong Licence CC BY-SA 3.0 Deed Source Wikimedia Commons

Jane Lambert

On Wales Enterprise Day the Menai Science Park ("M-SParc") celebrates the businesses that have graduated from start-up to scale-up.   By definition, scale-ups seek to expand their business not only in the United Kingdom but also overseas.   An obvious stepping stone for expansion for businesses that have established themselves in Wales is the Republic of Ireland.  That is why the theme of this year's Wales Enterprise Day is "Rebuilding Bridges with Europe - Wales's Relationship with Ireland".   

Traffic between Wales and Ireland is not all one way.  Despite Brexit, Britain remains an attractive market for Irish businesses.  It has a market of over 65 million consumers, a highly developed financial services sector and it was recently ranked by the WIPO as the 4th most innovative country in the world (see WIPO Global Innovation Index 2023).  With its science parks, enterprise zones and proximity to Ireland, Wales is a good place for Irish companies to set up their first base.

To explore the opportunities for Welsh scale-ups in Ireland and Irish scale-ups in Wales the main event on Wales Enterprise Day will be a hybrid seminar between 12:30 and 14:00 entitled "Adfer Pontydd gydag Ewrop" or "Restoring Bridges with Europe," It will link the Welsh science parks AberInnovation, M-SParc and Transhed Tech with the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin. One high-tech company that operates in both Wales and Ireland is the IT consultancy CapVentis. That company's CEO John Glennane and its CTO Mark Hawkes will outline some of the practical issues of carrying on business in Wales and Ireland.  

Ireland's intellectual property laws are very similar to those of Wales and England.  Ireland is a party to the European Patent Convention and has signed but not yet ratified the Unified Patent Court  Agreement (see OJ 20.6.2013 C175/1). Applicants for patents can choose between a European patent or an Irish patent granted under the Patents Act 1992.  There is a further choice between full-term and short-term patents.   Brand owners can choose between an EU trade mark granted by the EU Intellectual Property Office ("EUIPO") in Alicante under the EU Trade Mark Regulation or an Irish trade mark granted by the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland ("IPOI") in Kilkenny under the Trade Marks Act 1996. Similarly, design owners may seek a registered Community design under the Community design regulation from the EU IPO or an Irish registered design from the IPOI under the Industrial Designs Act 2001.

For British owners of EU trade marks and registered Community designs or EU plant varieties it is worth remembering that the Irish High Court remains an EU trade mark court and a Community design court.  Actions for the enforcement  of those rights can usually be brought in those courts where the procedure will be very similar to that of the courts of Wales and England,

Guidance on those issues will be provided by James Bridgeman SC a leading member of the Irish Bar,  I shall offer similar guidance to any member of the audience who wants information on Welsh and English law.   I shall invite other professionals, investors and other experts to join the audience and comment on matters within their expertise,

Anyone requiring further information should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Wales Enterprise Day - Rebuilding Bridges with Europe

Menai Suspension Bridge


Jane Lambert

Wales Enterprise Day is an annual celebration of Welsh creativity, enterprise and innovation in all sectors of its national life including education and government as well as business.  Every year it revolves around a different theme,   in 2021 the theme was "From Start-Up to Scale-Up" and in 2022 it was about "Obtaining and Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights Abroad."  This year it is "Rebuilding Bridges with Europe - Wales's Relationship with Ireland".

Anyone flying into a continental airport or checking into the Eurostar will have noticed significantly longer delays in clearing immigration since 2020.  British passports now have to be checked and stamped and there are limits to how long their holders can stay and what they can do in most of the EU.  The one country where there has been no significant change is the Republic of Ireland largely thanks to the much-maligned Northern Ireland protocol to the agreement for the UK's withdrawal from the EU and Eueatom.  All parts of Ireland remain in the Common Travel Area and the rights of British citizens to live and work in the Irish Republic and those of Irish nationals to live and work here are largely unaffected by brexit (see HM government's recently updated Common Travel Area Guidance).

As the Republic of Ireland remains in the EU it serves as a bridge between Britain and the rest of the European Union.   The Irish courts, for example, are still European Trade Mark and Community Design Courts which will entertain claims for infringement of EU trade marks and registered Community designs held by British nationals.   The Brussels Recast Regulation continues to apply to the Irish Republic which makes it considerably easier for a judgment of an Irish court to be enforced in most of continental Europe than a British one.  These were points that were made eloquently by James Bridgeman SC at the first of a series of talks on the Latest Developments in IP Law which he delivered in London on 18 Sept 2023.

Janes who participated in last year's Wales Enterprise Day over Zoom will be at the Menai Science Park ("M-SPark") in person this year underscoring the proximity of Dublin to the park.  However, intellectual property and other legal issues will not be the only topics to be discussed at our lunchtime seminar "Rebuilding Bridges with Europe - Wales's Relationship with Ireland" on 17 Nob 2023.  One of my fellow guests at the reception in the House of Lords which I discussed in Reflections on Wales Innovation Week in London on 20 Sept 2023 was Mr John Glennane of CapVentis.  According to its website, CapVentis "works with some of the world’s largest brands in delivering integrated solutions around analytics, customer engagement and experience management works with some of the world’s largest brands in delivering integrated solutions around analytics, customer engagement and experience management."  John told me that CapVentis had recently moved its UK office from London to M-SPark.

While I was in London, Mr Pryderi ap Rhisiart, M-SParc's Managing Director, told me about the park's close and ever-strengthening ties with Ireland.   It was he who suggested a focus on Ireland for this year's Wales Enterprise Day.  His suggestion makes a lot of sense because Dublin is developing rapidly as a leading financial centre (no doubt benefiting considerably from brexit) and it is geographically closer to M-SParc than London or even Cardiff.  There is as yet no direct air service to Dublin but Maes Awyr Môn has already hosted a commercial air service to Cardiff, If the Anglesey Enterprise Zone succeeds there is likely to be sufficient traffic to justify a connection with Dublin.   Ireland which already hosts the European offices of some of the world's largest tech companies and many smaller ones has no shortage of private equity and angel investors who might take an interest in the new knowledge-based businesses of Northwest Wales.

Over the next few weeks, I shall publish more details of the Rebuilding Bridges with Europe seminar as ideas crystalize,   In the meantime, anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Reflections on Wales Innovation Week in London

Palace of Westminster
Claude Monet


Jane Lambert

One of my favourite YouTube channels is Ben Llywelyn's. He is an American by origin who has learnt Welsh and settled in Wales.  He makes videos about Wales, its history and languages, mainly but not exclusively Welsh.  As a Cambriophile and a student of Welsh, I often watch his channel.

He  has recently published a particularly interesting video called "How do we save Welsh Devolution from killing itself?" He argued that sections of the public are losing interest in politics because none of the parties that are likely to form a government represents their views.  The Labour Party and Plaid Cymru, the only parties likely to form a government in Wales, are essentially social democratic with very similar outlooks.  Liberal Democrats are also inclining towards the left and the Conservatives are increasingly populist.  The absence of a moderate right-of-centre voice has allowed parties like Reform UK and UKIP  to win seats in the Senedd.  So, too, has a party called "Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party",

Llywelyn contends that those parties have managed to gain a foothold because there is in Wales no credible right-of-centre counterweight to Plaid Cymru and Labour as in other countries including most of the rest of Britain.  He suggests that the only way to create a moderate right-of-centre voice is to expand the professional and managerial classes in Wales. That requires the development of knowledge-based businesses with well-paid jobs in such industries as financial services, telecommunications and computing.  Only when there is an aspiring, entrepreneurial, property-owning class in significant numbers in Wales will changes in policy be possible.  

I abstain from commenting on Llywelyn's political analysis because I do not live in Wales but I have held a similar view on economics for many years.   I have visited Northwest Wales regularly all my life,  Throughout that time I have seen its industries decline and some of the best and the brightest of its young people leave the region.  Since 2018   Menai Science Park ("M-SParc")  and the Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre have begun to arrest and even reverse those trends.

In M-SParc is coming to London - Mae M-SParc yn dod i Lundain, I announced that M-SParc would host a series of events in London.  These would range from a reception in the House of Lords to a coding class for the students of the London Welsh School.  I attended the reception and most of the Digital Wales events.

The reception took place in the Attlee and Reid Room in the Palace of Westminster between 15:30 and 17:00 on Monday, 11 Sept 2023.  Guests were welcomed by Pryderi ap Rhisiart, Managing Director of M-SParc and Lord Wigley.  I knew quite a lot about Lord Wigley's political career but nothing about his business acumen.  In his speech, he mentioned that he ran a business in Llanberis that had created 400 jobs. Other speeches were delivered by the Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University. the Secretary of State for Wales, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Welsh Government and Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation.

By far the most interesting speech was Prof. Badyal's, He discussed the plan to expand Wales's scientific capabilities.   In describing that plan Prof Badyal discussed the efforts of other small countries such as Israel and Singapore. There was no formal Q&A but as I had been sitting quite close to him, I buttonholed him to ask why Wales fell behind all the nations and regions of the UK in the number of patent applications except Northeast England and Northern Ireland (see Table 2.1a: Patent applications, publications and grants1 by region).  I also suggested to him that the Lambert Toolkit precedents should be updated and that Welsh businesses and academics might like to make their own Toolkit.   I renewed those observations in the panel discussions at the Digital Wales event the next day, 

If Prof Badyal's speech was the most interesting Dame Ottoline's was the most flattering.  She described the University of Bangor as a jewel in Wales's crown and M-SParc as its most glittering.  I was personally heartened by the Secretary of State's approval of the UK's rejoining Horizon Europe   He explained that he had been a brexiteer during the referendum campaign but nevertheless favoured a good relationship with the EU.

The reception was attended by representatives of Wales's other science parks.  Just before the event, I met Rhian Hayward, Chief Executive Officer of Aberinnovation who had chaired a conference at Aberystwyth's Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences on 13 March 2019 at which I delivered a presentation and others from Aberinnovation in Victoria Gardens.  Inside the Attlee and Reid Room, I met representatives of Bangor, Swansea, Wrexham Glyndwr and other Universities, Menter Môn, AMRC Cymru, business angels, private equity investors and many others who are promoting knowledge-based industries in Wales.   All those meetings took place over sandwiches, cakes, tea and later wine,   The reception was an excellent start to the next 4 days of talks and networking.

The following day I attended Digital Wales in the Welsh Government's offices at 25 Victoria Street.  The event consisted of four sets of presentations and panel discussions on the topics of leveraging data, cybersecurity, smart towns and digital creativity and an indication of the good things to expect at Wales Tech  Week which is to be held between 16 and 18 Oct 2023 at the International Convention Centre, Wales just outside Newport.  This was an opportunity to see many old acquaintances such as Tom Burke of Haia, Carwyn Edwards who must take much of the credit for the success of the Digital Wales event and Richard Scott formerly of GlobalWelsh as well as make many new connections. Sustained by endless supplies of bara brith and Welsh cakes we covered a lot of topics in just 5 hours of talk,

Welsh Innovation Week continued for another two days with discussions on energy, trade and investment at the Welsh Government office and a reception hosted by GlobalWelsh on the theme "Connect to London", I would happily have stayed for the whole week had been free to do so.   

If the objects of the exercise were to establish new connections, renew existing ones and raise the profile of the M-SParc and  Aberinnovation science parks, their tenants, the Welsh universities and other participating institutions in London, the week was a great success. The economy of rural Wales is changing thanks in part to such initiatives as the science parks and the Pontio Centre,  Whether that will bring about the social and political changes for which Ben Llywelyn hopes remains to be seen.   Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

Friday 18 August 2023

Welsh Government Funding for Green Vehicle Technology and other News

Methanol Fuel Cell
Author NASA Licence Public Domain  Source Wikimedia


Jane Lambert

This month's Innovation Brief from the Welsh Government's Economy. Treasury and Constitution Group contains three very interesting news items.   

The first is that the Welsh Government is co-funding a third round of investment in greener and cleaner innovation through the Ford Low Carbon Vehicle Transformation Fund.  Details of the funding were announced by the Minister, Mr Vaughan Gething, on 12 July 2023 (see the press release Economy Minister announces further £1m investment in green vehicle innovation),  Application forms and guidance notes for the funding can be downloaded from the Ford Low Carbon Vehicle Transformation Fund now open! of the Business Wales website now.

The second item that attracted my attention was an invitation to nominate candidates for next year's St David Awards.  Those awards are made to "exceptional people that make Wales great".  There are 10 categories 9 of which are nominated by members of the public:

  • Business
  • Bravery
  • Community Spirit
  • Critical Worker (Key Worker)
  • Culture
  • Environment
  • Innovation, Science and Technology
  • Sport
  • Young Person
  • First Minister's Special Award.
This year's "Business" award went to Câr y Môr, Wales's first regenerative ocean farm, and its "Innovation Science and Technology" award to CanSense, a spin-out company from Swansea University which has developed diagnostic tests for bowel cancer.   Online nomination forms can be completed here.

The final item is the CRISP23 Innovation Drumbeat webinar on 19 Sept 2023 on the latest support and funding opportunities for innovation, R&D funding as well as how to make these projects more effective.

Readers who are not already aware of Business Wales will find up-to-date resources on starting, running and growing a business in Wales. I particularly recommend the pages on Start-up and Business Planning and Business Ideas and Innovation. One of the web pages that I picked out at random under "Success Stories" was a story about Abel and Imray's initiative with young school student inventors in Pembrokeshire (see Young Welsh inventors given legal patent support for innovative new products").

Anybody who needs specialist advice on intellectual property or technology law can continue to access our pro bono initial advice and signposting service by completing the simple online form at the end of this article. Anyone wanting to discuss this post may call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Geographical Indications - Single Malt Welsh Whisky/Wisgi Cymreig Brag Sengl

Perderyn Distillery
Author JTreg52 Licence CC BY-SA 4.0 Source Wikimedia Commons


Jane Lambert

Art 54 (2) of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community required HM Government to continue to protect geographical indications under the laws of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland after 23:00 on 31 Dec 2023.  I discussed the protection of geographical indications after that date in Geographical Indications in the UK after 31 Dec 2020 in NIPC Law on 30 Sept 2020.  I considered how such protection would apply to Wales in The New Protected Food Names Scheme as it will apply in Wales on 26 Oct 2020.

The latest product to be registered under the scheme is Single Malt Welsh Whiskey (see the Secretary of State's Decision Notice of 24 July 2023).  According to the Product Specification, the application was launched by a consortium of five distillers styled "The Welsh Whisky Association" on 12 Aug 2021. The members of that consortium were Penderyn Distillery at Pontpren, Aberfalls Distillery at Abergwyngregyn, Dà Mhile Distillery at Llandysul, Coles Distillery at Llanddarog and In the Welsh Wind Distillery at Tan-yr-Groes.

The Product Specification contains a description of the whisky, its ingredients, provenance and details of its production.  There is also information on the link between the spirit and its geographical origin,

Any appeal against the decision must be lodged with the First Tier Tribunal before 21 Sept 2023.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article may call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

Saturday 22 July 2023

M-SParc is coming to London - Mae M-SParc yn dod i Lundain

London Welsh Centre


Jane Lambert

I discovered M-SParc ("the Menai Science Park") while on holiday in Beaumaris just a few months after it opened (see M-SParc - Anglesey's Science Park 28 Aug 2018 NIPC News).  As I was born not far from the Anglo-Welsh border I have been coming to Northwest Wales since I was a babe in arms.  I acknowledge that is not the same as coming from there but it is enough to form a deep attachment for the region and its people.  For most of the time that I have visited the region, I have seen its industries decline and population diminish. I understood the science park's significance as soon as I saw it.   This was an initiative to arrest and reverse that decline.

Having set up clinics and inventors' clubs throughout the North of England, I have developed skills, knowledge and connections to assist start-ups and other small businesses.  I called the science park immediately after the bank holiday and offered my services as an intellectual property lawyer.  I was invited to attend the forthcoming Anglesey Business Show which I did.  I described the event in Anglesey and the Fourth Industrial Revolution on 12 Oct 2018 (NIPC Northwest).  Since then I have enjoyed participating in many events at M-SParc and have even contributed to a few.  Those events continued online right through the pandemic and they greatly strengthened my attachment to the science park and its hinterland  (see Delivering on my Promises to Wales  26 March 2020).

M-SParc does not confine its activities to its site at Gaerwen.  It holds regular events throughout North Wales and beyond (see the On Tour page of the M-SParc website).  It targets not just entrepreneurs and business owners but also students at the excellent secondary and primary schools and colleges of the region (see STEM and Skills).  One of its most commendable initiatives is Clwb Sparci which the website describes as "a unique Welsh language STEM club that offers a range of exciting activities each month, to inspire children of all ages."  Its activities range "from coding workshops and robotics classes to science experiments and maker sessions".  For younger students, there is the Miwtini Bach while older ones can train at the Skills Academy.

Between 9 and 14 Sept 2023 M-SParc will be in London (see M-SPar #ArYLonDon).  Appropriately it will start with a coding workshop for 6 to 11-year-olds delivered by Clwb Sparci at the London Welsh Centre between 10:00 and 12:00 on 9 Sep.  Sadly, my little grandson manqué, Vlad, who codes and is looking forward to his first trip to Nant Gwrtheyrn and accompanying me up Yr Wyddfa on foot is just a little bit too old for the class.   Apparently, the class will focus on Welsh idioms.   If the weather is anything like today's a useful start might be "Mae'n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn" which is more or less as ridiculous as "raining cats and dogs". The class will be repeated online to kids from around the world in the afternoon.

Clwb Sparci will also deliver a class on energy on Monday, 11 Sep to the London Welsh School. The school serves the children of the substantial Welsh community in London many of whose members speak Cymraeg as a first language or fluently as an acquired language.  The London Welsh Centre teaches the language at its premises and online and holds regular conversation classes. I attended one of the Centre's online courses during the lockdown and found it much more rigorous than those provided by Nant Gwrtheyrn, Popeth Cymraeg or Say Something in Welsh.  It is also possible to learn Cymraeg to an advanced level at the City Lit in Covent Garden.  The main event for the Welsh community in London is Wales Week which takes place every year around St David's Day.

Turning back to M-SParc's visit, the high point of the week is likely to be the "Wales Igniting Innovation" exhibition and seminar at the House of Lords which also takes place on 11 Sept.  Speakers will include Lord Wigley, David Davies MP, Secretary of State for Wales, Prof Jas Pal Badyal, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Welsh Government and Dame Ottoline Leyser of the UKRI.  Exhibitors will include AberInnovation, Cardiff Univeristy's Sbarc/Spark and Tramshed Tech as well as M-SParc.  This event is by invitation only and is fully subscribed.  However, there may be a waiting list as there is also an invitation to contact to declare an interest in participating in the event.

All the events of the last are days are open to the public.  "Digital Wales" which takes place at the Welsh Government's London office at 25 Victoria Street, on  Tuesday 12 Sept 2023 will showcase "
companies, projects and innovation with digital at their heart and Wales at the forefront."  Topics under discussion include agri-tech, creative tech, decarbonization tech, fintech, government tech, language tech and tourism tech.  An audience of alumni, civil servants, investors, politicians and potential returners to Wales is expected,

"Wales: Trade and Invest" which takes place on 13 Sept will showcase Wales as a location for international trade and inward investment.   There will be discussions on the Welsh Government's Freeport Programme which will include a discussion of the Anglesey Freeport to which M-SParc is contributing (see Emily Roberts Wales Freeport Status secured for Anglesey 23 March 2023 M-SParc website).  Other forms of business support will also be discussed by the Invest in Wales panel.

Between 10:00 and 14:00 on Thursday 14 Sept 2023, EGNI will host an exhibition and seminar on renewable energy resources in North Wales.  These will include solar, tidal, wind and nuclear power generation as well as hydrogen for transportation and heating. I attended the EGNI 2023 conference at M-SParc in May and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The last event will be "Connect to London" to be presented by Global Welsh. It will take place at the offices of the Four Agency on the Whitechapel Road between 18:00 and 21:00 on 14 Sept 2023. The advertised programme includes an introduction from Nan Williams, Global Welsh's Chair, speeches by Jamie O'Hara who is described as the "Hub Lead" and a keynote speaker who is yet to be announced in conversation with Warren East of Rolls Royce and ARM Holdings. There will also be pitches from Welsh entrepreneurs, networking and food, Unlike most of the events which require registration on the Google form attached to the Welsh Innovation #OnTour page, the Global Welsh event requires registration on its "Connect to London" form,

On the "Welsh Innovation #OnTour" page there are four coloured hexagons each of which contains a different slogan. The slogan in the orange hexagon is "Showcase the best of Welsh Innovation in London!" The slogan in the light blue hexagon is "Creating valuable connections!"  The one in the green is "Raising investment!"  The last one is "Attract Inward Investment into Wales".  I have registered for the "Digital Wales" event and I will support the initiative in any way I can.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article can call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

EGNI 2023

Author Global World Atlas Licence CC BY-SA 4.0 Source Wikimedia Commons


Jane Lambert

"Egni" is Cymraeg for "energy" and there is a lot of it about in Anglesey both physically and metaphorically. Both kinds came together yesterday in EGNI 2023 at the Menai Science Park. EGNI 2023 was advertised as "THE low carbon and renewable energy event of the year." It consisted of a conference and exhibition with a parallel event for local schoolchildren.

The conference consisted of four sessions on the following themes:
  • Why Net Zero?
  • How are we doing it?
  • Strategic and Large Energy Projects
  • Young Persons' Panel.
The first session was launched by an impressive speech from a local sixth former called Owain. He did not say what he intends to do for a living but he has every chance of distinguishing himself in whatever career he chooses to follow. Owain was followed by speakers from the Welsh Government, Ambition North Wales the local authority and other institutions. The second session focused on local initiatives to achieve net zero. The third session was a panel discussion with representatives from BP, Rolls Royce, HyCymru (the Wales Hygrogen Trade Association) and other organizations on large-scale projects to develop renewable and nuclear resources. For the final session, Owain returned with another local sixth former called Seren and a student from Bangor University to quiz M-SParc's managing director and two of the speakers on their personal commitments towards achieving net zero. During the lunch and tea breaks, we were entertained by local artist Josh Weaver. The conference finished with a short concert by Eve Goodman.

I enjoyed all the presentations and learned a lot from each of the speakers but for me as an intellectual property lawyer, the panel discussion on strategic and large energy projects was the most interesting session The transition from fossil fuels to renewables and nuclear energy is potentially as important as the transition from animal power to steam in the 18th century. Every major economy is investing heavily in wind, solar, tidal and other renewable energy sources and the rewards for the companies that develop those technologies first will be substantial. With abundant wind and tidal power and half a century's experience in nuclear power generation, Anglesey is well placed for those developments. I invited the speakers to consider the worldwide licensing opportunities from those developments in a question to the panellists.

Yesterday was not the first time that M-SParc considered those opportunities. The theme for World Intellectual Property Day in 2020 was Innovate for a Green Future which the science park celebrated with presentations on the Intellectual Property Office's Green Channel and the WIPO Green database (see Anglesey to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day with Talks on Protecting and Exploiting Green Innovation at M-SParc 5 March 2020).

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.