Entrepreneurship skills and training for startups – where does IP fit?

The recent celebrations of World IP Day are a good reminder of the ways innovation benefits society and how intellectual property helps bring innovation to market. We also frequently celebrate the valuable role of entrepreneurship to stimulate both innovation and employment, and there is an increasing emphasis on entrepreneurship education to enhance the business skills of young entrepreneurs.

These two themes – IP value and entrepreneurship training – are often discussed in separate circles, with different sets of experts. But IP is the foundation of innovative enterprises, and entrepreneurship training needs an appropriate emphasis on the management of IP assets as a key management skill to ensure success.

With that in mind, Ideas Matter and Science|Business hosted an event at the European Parliament, Small Companies, Big Ideas: How intellectual property helps SMEs grow to discuss the results of a survey about IP training among a group of high potential startups that are spinouts from university research programmes in Europe, including Abeo, Cell2B and Endomagnetics. The survey found that 71% of the startups felt that there was a greater need for IP training before starting a company.

Ideas Matter also teamed up with Microsoft YouthSpark for a workshop on “Entrepreneurship skills and training for startups – where does IP fit?” to stimulate the sharing of best practices among NGOs who are devoting efforts to skills training for young entrepreneurs. Participants included NGOs like Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise, which has recently added an IP management chapter to its manual for young startups, and organisations like the European Patent Office, an Ideas Matter member, which provides extensive training material through its European Patent Academy.

The European Commission’s Directorate General of Enterprise and Industry also participated in this workshop, and it is encouraging to see the progress that agency has made in recent years with its IPR Helpdesk. This week, DG Enterprise is starting a new campaign addressing the doubts that many people have about starting a new digital business, and we hope that awareness about IP will be part of this initiative.

To help SMEs and the organisations that are engaged in entrepreneurship training activities, Ideas Matter compiled some of the most valuable resources that are readily available online. This is a goldmine of information freely available from organisations that have IP expertise, and we hope organizations dealing with entrepreneurship training can exploit this material well.

When it comes to innovation, the benefits for society depend not only on the talents of the creators and innovators themselves to come up with ideas, but also on their skills to manage businesses that spread those ideas in the market and create jobs. In some fields, particularly those involving the most far-reaching technological advances, intellectual property is the key asset of a company, and success or failure of an enterprise can depend on how well that asset is managed.

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Mark Lange
Director EU Institutional Relations, Microsoft

Mark Lange is Director of EU Institutional Relations. He joined Microsoft in 1998 and currently works on policy issues relating to cloud computing, privacy, security and data governance in the European Union, as well as interoperability and intellectual property across Europe, Middle East and Africa. He previously worked for law firm Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. and Brussels, from 1989 to 1998. His practice included general litigation, international trade, and intellectual property. Mark Lange graduated from the University of Virginia in 1981 and from Northwestern University Law School in 1989.