Friday 10 May 2024

M-SParc's Finance and Innovation Conference

MIT Lobby
By Madcoverboy at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

I returned to the Menai Science Park yesterday for its Finance and Innovation Conference.  I nearly missed it because I noticed a flat tyre just as I was about to set off early in the morning.   I managed to get it fixed by 11:30 which was when the conference was due to start.   After checking whether I could attend the afternoon session, I hit the motorway and arrived at M-SParc just as Gwenllian Owen was chairing what appeared to be a discussion between business angels.

Happily, that meant I arrived in good time for a lecture by Phil Budden from Massachusetts Institute of Technology by video link.  Dr Budden is the Senior Lecturer in Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management at the Sloan School.  His talk focussed on innovation-driven entities ("IDE"), a type of startup in a new technology that makes a loss at the start but then rapidly generates revenue.  He contrasted those businesses with other small and medium enterprises which tend to generate profits steadily,  The revenue curve of an IDE starts with a "U" representing a dip below the break-even line followed by an almost vertical upward curve.  The typical SME generates profits from the start and its curve is a steady 45 degrees.  The SME were the backbone of advanced economies but it was the IDE that generated growth.

As Dr Budden was speaking I thought of Amazon which had begun as an online bookseller reporting loss after loss in the early days and its Chinese equivalent Alibaba.  It prompted me to ask why it was only America and China that were producing tech giants like Alphabet and Baidu.  Where was the European or for that matter any other nation's equivalent?  In his reply, Dr Budden referred to the massive size of the US and Chinese economies.  They operate on a continental scale.  The UK, by contrast, was erecting impediments to transcontinental trade.  He invited me to respond and I referred to the US government's massive investment in defence that I had noticed as a graduate student in Los Angeles in the early 1970s.

A man in a dark green shirt asked for advice on setting up in the USA.  Dr Budden recommended among other things incorporation in Delaware.  He was right to say that many of America's leading companies are incorporated in that state.  That is because of its very flexible rules on incorporation known as "blue sky laws" and the strict regulation of corporations by its Court of Chancery.  Wales and England used to have a similar court until 1873 when the courts of equity and common law merged into one Supreme Court of Judicature albeit with separate divisions, procedural rules and practices which still exist today.

I tried to attract the attention of the man in the green shirt to introduce him to a US contact with a very similar practice to mine who should be able to help him but there were too many distractions for both of us.  Instead, I suggested to Gwenllian and Lois Bevan Shaw a seminar on expansion into the US market with a video link to my contact and others in the USA.  They seemed receptive to the idea and I have already started work on a proposal for such an event to be staged on Wales Enterprise Day in November.

Although Dr Budden's talk was the main attraction for me there were plenty of other good talks:
  • 11:30 - 12:00  Registration and brunch
  • 12:00 - 12:05  Welcome by Gwenllian and Lois
  • 12:05 - 12:25  Business Wales & Big Ideas Wales
  • 12:25 - 12:45 Samantha Williams and Ann Sudder Welsh Government Innovation Team
  • 12:45 - 13:00 Louise Jones InnovateUK
  • 13:00 - 13:30 Hannah Williams in conversation with Pryderi ap Rhisiart 
  • 13:40 - 13:50 Gwenllian Owen and Sean King and other angels 
  • 13:55 - 14:10 Anna Roberts of Explorage on her founder's journey
  • 14:10 - 14:50 Edward Thomas with Steven Livingston of IP Taxation and representatives of several funding institutions
  • 15:00 - 16:00 Dr Phil Buddon on IDEs
  • 16:00 - 16:15  Bangor University's voucher scheme for local businesses
  • 16:15 - 16:45 Case studies and flash grants
  • 16:45 - 17:15  Sundry grants
  • 17:15 - 18:30  Barbecue
One of my compatriots who works for the Department of Transport delivered part of his presentation in Welsh which was welcomed with well-deserved applause. It has inspired me to make more time to study the language.

The event took place in glorious sunshine.  The mountains across the strait have never looked lovelier.   Tim Powell posted a picture of that view on LinkedIn.   As he said in his post it is remarkable that anyone ever does any work when surrounded by such beauty.  The science park has hosted some great events in the 6 years that I have known them but this was one of the best.  Hearty congratulations to Pryderi, Gwenllian, Lois and everyone else who was involved in the conference.

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

Wednesday 8 May 2024

M-SParc's World IP Day Celebrations 2024

Jane Lambert

World Intellectual Property Day is an international festival of creativity and innovation which takes place on or around 26 April of every year. It celebrates the entry into force of the international agreement that established the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO"), the UN specialist agency that assists governments to protect investment in creativity, enterprise and innovation ("intellectual assets") through a bundle of laws known collectively as "intellectual property".

Every year World IP Day revolves around a different theme. The theme for 2024 was "IP and the Sustainable Development Goals".  As I said in Perhaps the Most Complex World IP Day Theme Ever in NIPC News on 15 April 2024, this was challenging because it was so broad.  There are 17 goals which I have grouped into 4 categories: economic, environmental, political and social.  

I noted in IP and the Sustainable Development Goals in Wales on 14 Jan 2024 that Wales has gone further than most countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals by enacting the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. That Act establishes 7 Well-being Goals that are compatible with but not identical to the Sustainable Development Goals.  The relationship between the Well-being and Sustainable Development Goals is illustrated in the following table.


Sustainable Development Goals

Wellbeing Goals


Affordable and Clean Energy

A Prosperous Wales

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

No Poverty

Zero Hunger


Clean Water and Sanitation

A Resilient Wales

Climate Action

Life below Water

Life on Land

Responsible Consumption and Production


Partnership for the Goals

A Globally Responsible Wales

Peace Justice and Strong Institutions


Good health and well-being

A Healthier Wales

Quality Education

A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language

Gender Equality

A More Equal Wales

Reduced Inequalities

Sustainable Cities and Communities

A Wales of Cohesive Communities: 

Wales has no shortage of creative, enterprising and innovative men and women who can advance the above goals but they will need investment and Welsh and UK government cooperation.  For that reason, Gwenllian Owen and I  invited representatives of all those interests to our World IP Day Seminar.

Our keynote speaker was Mr Derek Walker, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.  He was our representative from the Welsh government in that his office was established by s.17 (1) of the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to perform the functions set out in s.19 of the Act.  He was appointed by the Welsh Government under s.17 (2) in consultation with the Senedd.  In his short video address, Mr Walker summed up the aims of the legislation and his statutory responsibilities and how innovation and creativity will further them.

Dr Jonathan Tudpr, Investment Partner of the Clean Growth Fund represented investors. He had been sitting next to me on Gwenllian Owen's table at the St David's Day Celebrations at the Guildhall and it was then that I invited him to address our seminar on World Intellectual Property Day.  In his succinct but comprehensive presentation, he introduced the audience to the Fund and outlined some of the projects in which it had invested and the Fund's criteria for investment.  Despite its strong connections with Wales the Fund had not yet made an investment in Wales. That prompted me to observe that there were many companies in M-SParc and Aberinnovation that might well meet the Fund's criteria.  Dr Tudor invited them to contact him through the Fund's website.  

One of the innovative entrepreneurs whom I had in mind when speaking to Dr Tudor was Tom Burke. He had helped to launch Animated Technologies and Haia and he was now working with M-SParc as its Digital Innovation Manager in which capacity he had delivered Hac Iaith.  He could thus cover the "Prosperous Wales" and "Vibrant Culture and Thriving Welsh Language" goals of the Welsh legislation as well as many of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.  In his presentation, he discussed how Haia had evolved from a video conferencing to an events platform, how he had used technology to facilitate language training and the intellectual property rights that protected his companies' investment in technology and creativity.  He briefly touched on software-implemented inventions for which he had been told that patents were very difficult to obtain.  This will be a topic for a seminar in the near future.

In her capacity as Regional Policy Advisor at the Intellectual Property Office  Emma Richards represented the UK government.  As her mission extends to the devolved nations she had a crucial role in assisting Welsh creatives, entrepreneurs and innovators to achieve the Well-Being Goals.  Ms Richards outlined the work of the IPO and its relationship with the central government, the services it provided, the IP attaché network and the help that it could offer to startups and SMEs as they begin to expand and the IPO's commitment to use the Welsh language in all its services.  I asked whether the hearing officers and examiners could speak the language and was assured that anyone who wishes to submit a patent, trade mark or design application in Welsh or give evidence or present arguments in that language before a tribunal could do so.

Our last speaker, Elinor Cavil of DLA Piper gave her whole presentation in Weksh.  She had the difficult task of gathering all the strands of the seminar together which she did admirably.  She introduced herself, her firm and its services, gave a quick overview of intellectual property law and discussed how different intellectual property rights advanced different aspects of the Welsh Well-Being and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.  Ms Cavil attended last year's IP Law Summer School in Cambridge and she impressed me and my fellow faculty member, Tim Powell, with her knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, intellectual property law.

During the time that I have known Tim Powell, he has shown considerable interest in my work in  M-SParc.  His previous professional commitments had always coincided with M-SParc activities but he has now set up a new practice with an office in Chester that should enable him to spend more time in Wales  In the panel discussion at the end of the seminar, I invited him to introduce himself and his practice to the audience.  He also made several pertinent observations and asked some interesting questions at various stages of the seminar for which I was very grateful. He has recently posted this very kind comment to Linkedin.

This was not only the most ambitious and challenging theme for World IP Day it was also the most interesting and satisfying.   I am grateful to all the speakers and everyone who worked on the project.   I need to acknowledge in particular the contributions of Emily Roberts in the early planning stages for this event and Gwenllian Owen in the latter stages and on the day.  Without their resourcefulness and ingenuity, this event could not have taken place.

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