Tuesday, 29 August 2017

British Business Bank launches the First Tranche of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund

The Midlands
Licence Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Source Wikipedia

Jane Lambert

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund ("MEIF") is a joint initiative between the government owned British Business Bank and a number of local enterprise partnerships ("LEPs") in the East and West Midlands. The participating LEPs from the East Midlands are the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Greater Lincolnshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, and South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnerships. The Bank hopes to make £250 million available to small and medium enterprises ("SME") in the Midlands Engine area through debt finance, small business loans, proof of concept and equity finance funds in amounts ranging from £25,000 to £2 million.

Today the Bank announced the launch of its £150 million debt finance funding scheme which is the first tranche of the £250 million (see the British Business Bank's press release British Business Bank launches first £120 tranche of Midlands Engine Investment Fund 29 Aug 2017). Also today, the Bank published Spotlight: The Midlands Engine Investment Fund which surveys the Midlands Engine area economic and funding landscape.

Anyone seeking any kind of funding under the MEIF or any other scheme will be expected to have planned, protected and leveraged its investment in branding, design, technology and creative output and that's where I come in. If you don't already have an IP strategy give me a call on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

I can help you identify your intellectual assets and suggest the best ways of protecting them having regard to your business objectives and available resources. If you already have a patent or trade mark attorney, solicitor or other professional advisers I can work with them. If not, I can put you in touch with some of my contacts and help you choose and instruct the ones you like best. I can incidentally also put you in touch with many other professionals such as product design consultants and IP insurers and introduce you to your nearest Business and IP Centre or Patent Information Unit where you can get more advice and assistance either free of charge or at a very modest cost.

For more information on the Midlands Engine, visit my Midlands Engine resource page.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Midlands Engine Trade Missions

Jane Lambert

Earlier today I blogged about Northern Powerhouse branded trade missions in IP Northwest and IP Yorkshire. I wondered whether there was anything similar for the Midlands Engine. It turns out that there is a Midlands Engine campaign page and that six trips have been arranged.

The destinations are as follows:
Places on all those missions can be booked through the DIT's Midlands Engine campaign page.

If you go on any of those missions, take care not to disclose anything that you might wish to patent, register as a design or otherwise keep under wraps except in confidence (see Duty of Confidence). Remember that there is a year's grace period for design registration (see Registered Designs and Registered Community Designs).  Don't forget the international exhibition exception provided by s.2 (4) (c) of the Patents Act 1977.

Make sure that any non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement is to be construed and enforced in accordance with English law. We are harmonizing our trade secret law with the laws of the other EU member states by implementing the Trade Secrets Directive but we are not there yet (see The Trade Secrets Directive 7 July 2016 NIPC Law).

You must also be aware of the ease with which it is possible for IPR owners to get without notice injunctions just before international exhibitions in some countries (see the penultimate paragraph of Pre-Action Correspondence: What to do if you get a Stroppy Letter ....... or worse 4 Aug 2017 NIPC Law). You should also take a look at the arbitration schemes that exist in Italy and Switzerland (see my article Resolving IP Disputes at Trade Fairs 1 June 2017).

Should anybody wish to discuss any of these matters, call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message on my contact form.

Further Reading

The Midlands Engine

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Nottingham's FinTech Accelerator

Source Wikipedia

In a speech on the Financial Conduct Authority's regional FinTech engagement which he delivered at the Leeds Digital Festival on 27 April 2017, Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA said that although most of the initial development work on fintech up to now had taken place in London there was real potential beyond London for a further wave of innovation. He singled out the Leeds-Manchester and the Edinburgh-Glasgow corridors as emerging hubs but failed to mention Nottingham which was the location for one of the first if not the first fintech accelerator outside the capital.

On 17 May 2016, the British subsidiary of the US consumer finance company, Capital One, in collaboration with L Marks Ltd, announced the Capital One Growth Labs. That was a 10-week accelerator programme for up to 6 early-stage start-up and high-growth companies. The successful companies were offered direct access to Capital One's software engineering department at its Nottingham head office. That provided an opportunity to refine and test their products as well as to receive close mentor support from experts from the company and the wider tech industry. While they were in Nottingham they were also offered a series of workshops and talks on branding, business development, law and marketing, At the end of the programme they were to be offered opportunities to present their products and bid for investment.

Applications were sought in the following categories:
  • Unstructured data insight
  • Security and fraud prevention
  • Money management tools
  • Enabling healthy financial habits
  • Agent technologies
  • Open category.
The open category was available to any startup with a potential offering to Capital One such as payment solutions, tracking, new lines of business or a physical/digital bridge. 

Applications in writing were requested by 12 June 2016. Capital One and L Marks invited 19 businesses to Nottingham to pitch for the 6 places to a panel of Capital One's senior managers and outside experts on 6 July 2016. 

In an announcement dated 19 July 2016, Capital One said that it had chosen the following 5 companies to take part in the accelerator:
  • Credit Kudos of London which had developed a method of credit scoring based on the customer's financial history presented by Credit Kudos's co-founder, Freddy Kelly, n Simple Fair and Accessible Credit which appeared on Capital One's website on 25 Aug 2016;
  • Multisense, a Dutch company which had developed a mobile authentication system using face, voice and fingerprint recognition;
  • Pariti Technologies Ltd., another London business which had developed a mobile app to enable users to control their income and expenditure by connecting to all their bank and credit card accounts (see How Pariti works);
  • Warwick Analytics, a spin-off from the Univesity of Warwick's computer science department, which had developed automated predictive analytics that can remove the 80% of time data scientists need to organise and process data prior to analysis; and
  • WealRo, a mobile app that uses AI technology and machine learning to help users to budget where savings can be made.
I have not yet found any information about what happened on the programme, whether any of the companies found investment or whether Capital One bought any of those products or invested in any of those businesses. I can report that I have visited all the finalists' websites and they all seem to be thriving. I have not found any evidence that indicates that the accelerator has been repeated or that a second cohort will be chosen. There are however other financial institutions in Nottingham and I see that the Nottingham Building Society is investing heavily in fintech (see The Nottingham announces Major Investment in New Digital Technology in Fintech Finance).

The inclusion of law in the programme of talks and workshops for the Capital One accelerator, As I said in my FinTech introduction and overview,  I see three potential legal issues with any fintech project:
  • data protection and privacy particularly with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation next May;
  • intellectual property; and
  • regulatory issues.
Data protection and privacy will be particularly important for all companies' products, particularly Credit Kudon which collects data on and evaluates data subjects' credit scores. As for regulation, I refer each of the British companies to the FCA's regulatory sandbox if an in so as they are not already aware of it.

Should anyone need amplification or clarification of any point in this article, call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

Further Reading

03 Aug 2017
Jane Lambert
03 Aug 2017
Jane Lambert
27 Apr 2017
Jane Lambert