Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Does Wales need a Law and Innovation Network?

Menai Science Park
☺ 2018 Jane Lambert: all rights reserved




Earlier this month I discussed the Scottish Law and Innovation Network ("SCOTLIN") which describes itself as "a Scotland-focused collaboration and knowledge exchange hub that promotes impactful research, excellence in teaching, and societally beneficial law and policy innovations" (see Jane Lambert Scottish Law and Innovation Network 3 April 2021 NIPC Law).  It is a project in which all Scottish universities and some practitioners participate.

The project has been launched shortly before elections to the Scottish Parliament in which a second independence referendum is an issue.   As I said in my article, very little was said about innovation policy in Scotland's Future, the independence white paper, even though it would have been crucially important.  With the establishment of SCOTLIN, there is the [possibility for both sides in the coming independence debate to be better informed.  Also, intellectual property should gain a higher profile in both law schools and science and engineering faculties of Scottish universities regardless of the outcome of any future independence referendum. 

Although the issues in the Senedd elections are different, the need for a law and innovation network in Wales is at least as great.  As I argued in A Separate Welsh Legal Jurisdiction on 20 Feb 2021,  legislation enabling the Senedd to enact primary legislation necessitates a separate court system along the lines of the arrangements for Scotland and Northern Ireland.  That is as much in the interests of businesses and individuals in England as it is for those in Wales.  A separate Welsh court system will have to deal with specialist matters such as intellectual property that are currently resolved in London.  A Welsh law and information network could play a useful role in training practitioners and judiciary as well as practical matters such as raising awareness of the importance of intellectual property among businesses and the general public in Wales.

Whether Wales remains in or secedes from the Union, its prosperity depends on the creation of knowledge-based businesses such as those in the Menai Science Park, Aberinnovation and elsewhere. Those businesses are helping to reverse decades of economic decline and depopulation in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet.  They require access to specialist advice, forums for the resolution of disputes, angel and private equity funding and other services close at hand.  A law and innovation network could catalyze those developments.

A Welsh law and innovation network will not just happen.  It needs something to gather potential participants together.  Maybe that something will be the Menai Science Park's contribution to World Intellectual Property Day on 26 April (see World IP Day 2021: "IP & SMEs: Taking your ideas to market"  21 Jan 2021). We have gathered experts from the Intellectual Property Office, the Welsh government, Inngot, BIC Innovation, Knox Commercial Solicitors and IP Tax Solutions to speak on the day's themes "Taking your Ideas to Market",   We shall keep with that panel after the webinar and expand it until it becomes a law and innovation network for Wales.  Probably we need to adopt another name because neither "Wales Law and Innovation Network" nor "Rhwydwaith Cyfraith ac Arloesi Cymru" condenses into a memorable acronym like SCOTLIN. To help us clear the ground I have a presentation on geographical indications in Wales that I should be glad to deliver (see Jane Lambert The New Protected Food Names Scheme as it will apply in Wales 25 Oct 2020).

Anyone wishing to discuss the proposal further is welcome to call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact page.

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