Now two months have passed since our first 360° for Start-ups event, we can pause for reflection. This first event, 360° for Life Science Start-ups, was intended to bring together entrepreneurs and start-ups in the medical and life science sectors to share experiences, network, find support and discuss by way of two panels of experts, facilitators, suppliers in the fields of Intellectual Property and Funding/Investment.
We were delighted to partner with legal experts Morton Fraser, with Edinburgh-based R&D tax credit specialist Jumpstart, online brand guardian SnapDragon, angel syndicate Apollo Informal Investment and accountancy firm Mazars and to extend a warm welcome to Edinburgh to London-based IP crowdfunder IdeasPatch and San Francisco-based Par Equity USA, who provide the VC perspective.
We are particularly grateful to Morton Fraser for hosting the event at their beautiful offices in Quartermile in Edinburgh
How did it go?
A decent gathering of around fifty delegates enjoyed a well-organised and engaging. The ceremonies were ably mastered by our own Dr Claudia Duffy – the event flowed, the audience involved, question always available and the event kept meticulously to time (not just my view, but those of several delegates who I spoke to).
The feedback from delegates was that the number and quality of speakers was good and that the introductions available to other potential partners useful to business was valuable and, indeed, effective.
What were the presentations about?
The event was started off by some welcoming words from Morton Fraser partner, Austin Flynn, who introduced the concept of ClarityTM. The key themes delivered by way of two panels of speakers were, in the first half, IP protection and enforcement and in the second half, Funding and Investment. The event was punctuated with pitches from medical and life science start-up companies. Our IAESTE interns, Daisuke Mashima and Sanjeevan Sigdel provided brief summaries of the presentations below:
Michael Ellis, Founder and Director, Ellis IP
Michael Ellis spoke about brief intro to IP and top 5 tips for life science business. IP is one of the most important assets and have many types. Therefore, you have to choose carefully how to exploit it. Then, 5 IP tips to win the business in life science industry which are: 1. Ownership 2. Understand the value 3. Don’t file too soon 4. Don’t file it too late 5. Develop a strategy and regularly re-visit it.
Simon Krystman, Founder and CEO, IdeasPatch
Simon Krystman introduced us to IdeasPatch, a new crowdfunding platform for IP. Every invention and business has two fundamental risks: a technology risk and business risk. Funding patent services is an excellent solution to enable you to commercialize your ideas whilst decreasing the risks. For start-ups to be successful in funding through IdeasPatch, not only should they have a good invention but also an excellent basic business strategy.
Julie Nixon, Associate, Morton Fraser
Julie Nixon spoke about what “big data” means in relation to IP? When you analyse something which contains big data like DNA, the data should be analysed by software. Big data has several aspects as far as intellectual property is concerned, from software to analyse the data including copyright in code, to database rights, the know-how in generation and use of the data and also in patents. One thing you have to keep in mind is that IP does not just mean patents but also include copyright, trademark and so on.
Rachel Jones, Founder and CEO, SnapDragon
Rachel Jones spoke about the fighting against counterfeit products. Rachel experienced counterfeit problems first hand as founder of baby product company, Totseat. Now she helps other business owners quickly identify and shut down the routes to market for these counterfeiters. There are many fake products in the world and most people don’t notice when they buy them in daily life. Totseat used to be counterfeited and this put a strain on the business. Your idea will be stolen easily if you do not have IP know-how. Fair business with effective IP enforcement will not only empower brands but also effect a change on global industry.
Helen Barnham, Manager within the Copyright and IP Enforcement Directorate, UKIPO
Helen Barnham spoke about UKIPO and how to protect IP. UKIPO is responsible for patents, trademarks, design and copyright. Its enforcement policy team supports rights holders. It also acts as intelligence hub. To protect IP, you have to identify what IP you own, identify any risks posed by employees and contractors, register rights to help you enforce, understand the cost of enforcement and so on. The knowledge what you want regarding IP will be obtained in the UKIPO website.
Alistair McKinlay, Technical Analyst, JumpStart
Technical Analyst from Jumpstart, Alistair McKinlay, gave a brief introduction about Jumpstart and what they do. As a specialist research and development tax advisory firm, they put together and defend R&D tax credit claims using R&D tax credit schemes that is available from HMRC. To put things into perspective, he gave us some numbers. In 2015, the R&D tax credit scheme had 22,500 claims made by 20,000 different companies which was worth about £2.5 billion of which £1.1 billion was for SMEs, making it a very relevant scheme for life science startups. After a seemingly elaborate process of filing a relief, according to Alistair, all we have to do is sit back and wait for the money!
Michiel Smith, Gatekeeper, Apollo Informal Investment
Michiel Smith talked about how Apollo provides seed investment to new startups and early stage companies as long as they seem a good investment. Michiel believes, for an investor, there are no good and bad companies. There are just good and bad investments. How do they distinguish between the two? They ask three questions. How much are you going to sell it for? How much does it cost? How often are you going to sell it? According to Michiel, Apollo is generally looking for investments around £40-50k per company with clear, straightforward but non-negotiable terms!
David Thelander, Managing Director, Par Equity USA
Par Equity, another venture capital firm with its recent expansion in the US, is the largest Scottish angel syndicate. Although Par Equity’s roots are in information technology, David expressed the company’s increasing interest towards investing in the field of healthcare and life sciences. Its average investment range between £250k and 1.5 million per company.
Simone Young, Director of Outsourcing, Mazars
Simone Young from Mazars, which is a large accountancy firm providing comprehensive range of services, came to talk about something more specific. An outsourcing offering with cloud based financial services called elev8. elev8 by Mazars is designed to support and nurture small to medium sized business enterprises. Talking about outsourcing, Simone said, that small companies can benefit a great deal from financial outsourcing. Some advantages include cost savings, time savings, 24/7 access to data, greater pool of resources, all with no staff to manage!
We enjoyed four engaging pitches. Fiona Denison told us about Birthing Solutions and pitched its initial product, the birthing mirror for midwives. You might describe it as low-tech, but designed for purpose. In the short while since the event, Birthing Solutions has incorporated as a company and is a ScottishEDGE Wildcard finalist! The ClinSpecDX offering was ably and professionally presented by Mark Hegarty. A clear economic case was made for this technology for spectroscopic analysis of blood serum to detect brain cancer (and later other conditions). Since, ClinSpec DX, with Mark’s colleague Holly Butler, was runner up at Converge Challenge in September. Simon Harrison described the objectives its Smart Wearable Defibrilator under development by SpeyCardio. We’re delighted to note that SpeyCardio is now a ScottishEDGE Round 11 finalists. Finally, Ioma Technologies established by Adam Stokes and Stephen Mahon, was described exploring the More-Than-Moore technology opportunities associated with scaling and rapid development of microfluidic devices.
A great indication was that many people stuck around for networking at the end. We had very positive feedback from people and enjoyed the event. I hope that delegates and presenters alike found it useful. Based upon the feedback and the experience, I am sure that this first seminar event will not be our last. Look out for the next 360° for Start-ups.
Michael Ellis, with presentation summaries by Daisuke Mashima and Sanjeevan Sigdel