On 15.12.2021, the European Commission launched the application period for the acceptance of calls for funding from intermediaries in the field of intellectual property (IP) licensing. The initiative is part of the so-called Single Market Programme (SMP) and aims to support the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as start-ups in the field of advanced technologies and innovation.
The initiative is the result of a feasibility study on the commercialization of intellectual property. Published in November 2019, it indicates that SMEs are finding it difficult to capitalize on their IP due to a lack of trusted partners. The main reason for this is highlighted as the small number of IP licensing intermediaries on the EU market.
The aim of the project is to stimulate the supply of such intermediary services internationally through European funding. The total budget amounts to EUR 800 000, which is expected to be distributed between 6 to 8 applicants and may be increased by up to 20%. “Intellectual property” in the context of the project encompasses: all intangible assets, including copyright, patent, trademark, design right, plant variety right, geographic indication and as well as trade secrets and know-how. The focus is on the transnational nature of the intermediary services offered, as the services must span across at least three Member States. Stimulating the demand for innovative high-tech solutions through the intellectual property of SMEs by large enterprises is also highlighted as a key focus of the initiative.
As part of their application for funding, applicants are required to make a proposal for activities carried out or planned by them which are aimed at achieving the objectives of the initiative. The European Commission has provided a non-exhaustive list of some of these activities. These include: developing strategies to identify demand for innovative solutions, using artificial intelligence to explore the market for such solutions, establishing a pool of medium and large companies that may demand innovative solutions, helping SMEs to prepare their business case properly and assisting them through the licensing process, etc.
The evaluation of each candidate’s application will be carried out by a dedicated committee which will assess each in the light of three main criteria: relevance, quality and impact.
The required documents must be submitted online and the deadline is 22.02.2022. Any legal entity (as well as a consortium) from a Member State or from a country linked to the Single Market Programme may apply. The timeframe for the implementation of the respective project by the applicant varies between 12 and 18 months and the financial support is foreseen in the range between EUR 125 000 and EUR 200 000 per project.