European IP Helpdesk

Bulletin No. 2 Go-to-Market


the art related to the project outcomes in order to identify any IP constraints. To help gathering relevant information regarding IP management and protection, the consortium consulted IP experts and benefited from an IP training session organised by the European IP Helpdesk. This training session took place in the frame of a consortium meeting and was considered an important step towards generating and leveling the awareness of IP-related issues within the consortium.

With the help of a subcontracted IP expert, they first identified all constraints resulting from the detailed IP analysis to then establish the necessary actions to protect the expected exploitable results and generated knowledge produced in the SKHINCAPS project. Finally, this process ended with the submission of a provisional patent application to protect the generated IP.

How can future projects benefit from the SKHINCAPS experience?

The SKHINCAPS project was a very particular case in terms of exploitation and joint ownerships of generated developments since the consortium involved was relatively small (only eight partners, four from the academic and four from the industrial field) and the core roles and responsibilities of each partner were well defined right from the project start. This has created a friendly environment for fruitful and open-minded conversations on IP rights. Generally speaking, consortia should make sure to clearly define tasks and duties for each partner at the beginning of the project including all existing background knowledge that might be important for the project goals. Also, the SKHINCAPS partners acknowledged the importance of levelling the IP expertise among each other, enabling subsequent conversations to run smoothly and in a productive way.

After project conclusion what’s next?

Since the project end in September 2019, the industrial project partners have been exploring the potential of the generated results for future commercial exploitation. At the same time, all partners are committed to project impact maximisation through continuous dissemination of project outcomes to the widest possible community using various channels and instruments. Furthermore,

the consortium stimulates the publication of Open Access scientific articles while searching for additional funding to continue research in this field.

The SKHINCAPS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 685909.


CeNTI - Centre for Nanotechnology

and Smart Materials

Rua Fernando Mesquita, 2785

4760-034 Vila Nova de Famalicão, Portugal

Phone (+351) 252 104 152

Carla Silva,

Mariana Ornelas,

Alice Ribeiro,

Catarina Nobre,

A new study recently published by the European Patent Office (EPO) finds that SMEs rely on European patents to protect their high-potential inventions and that two thirds of these inventions are commercially exploited.

The study, entitled “Market success for inventions Patent commercialisation scoreboard: European SMEs”, finds that SMEs depend heavily on partnerships with domestic or foreign partners. The report shows that two thirds of half of all inventions protected either by a European patent application or a granted European patent are commercialised, and that half of these commercialised inventions are exploited in collaboration with an external partner via a licencing agreement (62% of the respondents), cooperation (49%) or spin-off (32%). Moreover, the partner is usually from another European country. This reveals how resource-constrained SMEs use partnerships as a way of entering new markets or sharing the financial burden of innovation.

Furthermore, jointly exploiting inventions with external partners enables SMEs to leverage their partners‘ resources, too. SMEs involved in partnerships identify “increasing revenue” (85%) and “market access” (73%) as the main motives for collaborative exploitation. Over half (56%) of them also cite “joint innovation” as a motive, followed by “outsourcing manufacturing” (42%) and “settling infringements” (32%).

However, the report notes that SMEs seeking international partners face serious challenges such as limited availability of IP expertise, resources, and business contacts to support their commercialisation efforts across Europe.

“SMEs are a key user group in the European IP system, creating new technologies, jobs and growth. And patents help them to protect their inventions,” says EPO President António Campinos. “Crucially, this new

New Study: European Patents Help SMEs Commercialise High-potential Inventions

Provided by the European Patent Office

study demonstrates that SMEs are also using patents to commercialise their inventions, they are increasingly innovative with their IP strategies, and that there is tremendous untapped potential. Given the role that patents play in supporting our economy and bringing forward new technologies, efforts have to continue in finding ways to tackle successfully the challenges revealed in this study.”

The study explores how SMEs commercialise their European patents in practice. It is based on a large sample of European patent applications coming from 1,140 European SMEs interviewed in the first half of 2019. All related applications were made between 2008 and 2018. The study documents whether and how the inventions covered are commercially exploited, with a focus on collaborative forms of exploitation such as licensing or cooperation. By analysing the patent commercialisation practices of European SMEs, the study offers policymakers valuable insights into the challenges facing these key players in European innovation ecosystems.

Further information

Download full report