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Who we work with

Supporting health innovation across NHS, academia and industry

Independent inventors

Under UK employment law, if you invent something that is substantially motivated or inspired by your job duties then your employer owns that piece of intellectual property. However if you do not have an employment contract the invention belongs to you.* The challenge is often finding the time, money or expertise to drive the idea forward. SHIL can assist through the following options:

This approach allows SHIL to develop and commercialise the invention in the same way as NHS originated ideas. If the IP associated to the idea has been developed to a more advanced stage, rather than assign IP rights to an NHS Health Board, the independent inventor can retain the IP already created (background IP) and with SHIL’s assistance enter into a legal collaboration with a Board whereby any new (“foreground IP”) created under the collaboration is jointly owned. In return for assigning these rights, an agreed share of revenue from any successful commercialisation is received by the independent inventor. It is also valuable to know the invention is being developed by experts in the field.

SHIL works with Health Boards across Scotland and can assist independent inventors in developing suitable collaborations. Under this model, all rights to background IP would be retained by the independent inventor. Any new (foreground) IP developed as part of an NHS collaboration would be jointly owned by the parties, with a revenue share from any successful collaboration determined under a legally binding agreement.

In each case, SHIL will firstly undertake an evaluation of the idea - this is a robust process designed to identify innovations that will best improve patient care and that have strong commercialisation prospects. If successful, discussion on the potential for assigning rights or developing a collaboration with an NHS Health Board will progress. The Health Board to which the idea is assigned will be, in SHIL’s opinion, the one best suited to hold the rights due to relevant experience and clinical expertise, and may not necessarily be the closest geographically. Continued involvement and engagement between all parties is essential throughout this process.

* Although undergraduate students generally own their IP, postgraduates may be subject to different arrangements, particularly if they are undertaking funded research, so this is always something SHIL checks carefully.

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