Northern Powerhouse IP Update #1 - Manchester's First BioTech Lab

Jane Lambert

I am grateful to Yessi Belli Perez of UKTN for alerting me to the opening of BIOspace which describes itself as "The new open access laboratory where sharing facilities and expertise is the key to success" (see Manchester’s first BioTech lab which is featured in Startup Weekly: Manchester gets a new BioTech lab, Pitch360 opens for entries and more 13 Oct 2017 UKTN).

According to BIOspace's website, BiOspace was founded within the Manchester Science Park from a partnership between Protein Technologies Limited and Manchester Science Partnership. The project enables companies in such areas as diagnostics, biomedical/chemical-analysis, medical devices and biopharmaceuticals, to rent bench space, use specialized equipment and benefit from technical support and training.

For a good introduction and overview of technology in Manchester, see Emily Spaven Documentary: What’s going on in Manchester’s tech scene? 9 Nov 2015 UKTN and the YouTube video that was made in collaboration with Cisco Documentary: Manchester's tech scene 9 Nov 2016.

BIOspace reports that:

"Ninety percent of biotech and med-tech companies experience failure within the first three years of launch due to the high financial burn rates in R&D, overheads and personnel costs."

They attribute a large part of that failure to spending 50% or more of their funding on capital equipment supplies, and other operational expenses related to running a lab. BIOspace which rents equipment as well as space and provides training courses and internships should go some way to reducing such expenses.

I can help with another area, namely intellectual property. IP is expensive, particularly when it comes to patenting, but some sort of legal protection for research and development may be crucial for attracting angel and private equity investment.  As resources are often scarce in the early days it is important to consider IP when writing your business plan. You should select the countries in which you require patent protection intelligently and you should be aware of and make use of alternatives to patents such as trade secrecy, copyrights and design rights where they are appropriate and available. You should have plans and procedures in place if anyone wants to take a licence or enter a joint venture with you. Similarly, you should have systems for detecting possible infringements or challenges to your IP rights and have procedures for resolving such difficulties before they turn into full-scale litigation.

I am happy to provide training in all these matters to groups of founders or investors or individual consultancy as well as all the other services traditionally supplied by the patent bar. Should anyone wish to discuss this article, call me on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.