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Helpdesk provides free IPR services to SMEs


Part of the EU-funded IP-BASE project, the IPR-Helpdesk (Intellectual Property Rights Helpdesk) is helping SMEs to manage their knowledge and intellectual property (IP) effectively when they join a research project, negotiate a licence agreement or define their innovation strategy.

Currently, European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) benefit from a wide range of actions and initiatives both at European and national levels. The European Commission provides active support for SME innovation through numerous schemes, amongst which the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) stand out.

Nevertheless, if they are to take full advantage of these opportunities, SMEs must also be informed in several areas: how to manage the knowledge they acquire and generate effectively; how to protect the results of their research efforts or the results transferred to them by research-performing organisations; and how to share and exploit their IP resources in research collaborations through technology transfer agreements.

Over the last year, the IPR-Helpdesk has become a point of reference for SMEs that wish to protect their innovations. The IPR-Helpdesk SME Gateway contains various informative documents which focus on how to manage IP within EU-funded projects. Part of this material is dedicated to FP7, providing advice on what to do about IP during the proposal preparation process, as the project progresses and then after it has finished.

Specific attention has been paid to SME actions and the two funding schemes in the programme 'Research for the benefit of SMEs' - IP-related issues for SMEs in FP7 projects explains the basics, while a small guide devoted to the SME funding schemes goes into more detail.

However, no document can provide all the answers, at least not when it is kept short and intelligible for the inexperienced user. So the IPR-Helpdesk Helpline remains vigilant at all times, ready to solve any additional questions SMEs might have and to provide case-specific advice. Clear, jargon-free responses, including links to additional sources of information, will be provided within three working days.

The IPR-Helpdesk's legal experts also attend European seminars and workshops dedicated to SMEs, where experts and users will have an opportunity to meet, explain and discuss, teach and learn.