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World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated annually on 26 April.

The day celebrates the role intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity.

As a champion for health innovation, Scottish Health Innovation Ltd (SHIL) work in partnership with NHS Scotland to move promising ideas and innovations into viable products to improve patient care.

A critical part of this work, is protecting those ideas and innovation, as highlighted by SHIL Chairman Graham Watson:

“All modern healthcare is founded on past innovation and the development of new ideas is essential to create a modern, innovative, and sustainable NHS of the future. But without ownership over the IP of what has been created or invented, anyone, regardless of permission, can use and adapt that idea.

“Protecting IP is therefore crucial to ideas originating from NHS Scotland. It secures the interests of both the health professional/ inventor, and the health board.

“It is one of the key services SHIL offers to health boards across Scotland, and ensures the NHS is protected in commercial negotiations, with skilled, experienced individuals able to advise and support through this process.”

A short guide to IP is available via the SHIL website. It details the different types of IP including copyright, patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

Under UK patent law, the NHS automatically owns the right to any intellectual property created by healthcare professionals working within NHSScotland.

SHIL assist the NHS in acquiring and managing this IP, to ensure a return on investment for the health service, with any revenue generated from commercialising ideas and innovations shared with the originator and the health board through a bespoke NHS inventor award scheme. This means SHIL helps generate an income stream to NHS health boards through financial returns on co-development projects.

Robert Rea, Head of Business Development at SHIL and a former Intellectual Property Manager, holds responsibility for IP at SHIL and stresses the importance of early contact to capitalise on opportunities:

“IP really is a critical part of our work here at SHIL and anything of commercial value should be protected as soon as possible. It is factored into our initial evaluation process as part of our assessment of commercial viability.

“This is because, highly competitive marketplaces, including health fields such as biotechnology and pharmaceutical, need the protection against copycat products. Securing IP also provides a basis for collaboration with other partners, perhaps to attract funding or to support the manufacture of a product.

“This can be quite a daunting part of the process with inventors concerned about the time commitment to secure IP. This is an area SHIL can progress on behalf of the inventor and we also support health boards with audits, training and general guidance.

“This sort of collaborative approach is essential to translate ideas from NHS Scotland into viable products to improve patient care”

If you have questions or are interested in finding out more get in touch via and follow #WorldIPDay for useful insight.

You can also follow @ScotHealthInno for daily news, or sign up to INSIGHT our regular enewsletter.

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