Boosting startups with intellectual property: EPO’s Observatory on Patents and Technology hosts its inaugural event

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​​The EPO’s Observatory on Patents and Technology held its inaugural event online on 17 October 2023, with some 2 400 viewers logging on for “Boosting startups with intellectual property”. During the event, the European Patent Office (EPO) unveiled its Deep Tech Finder, presented the findings of a joint study on startup finance, held a panel discussion and Q&A on leveraging patents, and looked ahead to future Observatory activities.   

​​In his welcome message, EPO President António Campinos spoke on the importance of an accessible patent system, “As we mark 50 years of progress since the signing of the European Patent Convention, we are reminded that our patent system thrives on diversity, collaboration and inclusivity. We have to open the door wider for startups and individual inventors.” The President underlined the role of the Observatory, noting that it aims to “strengthen outreach and contribute to a deeper understanding of the future of patents and technology, together with private and public stakeholders.”  

​​Yann Ménière, EPO Chief Economist, and Nathan Wajsmann, European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) Chief Economist, discussed the key findings of a joint EPO-EUIPO study on startup finance. The study reveals that European startups applying for patents and/or trade marks during their initial seed or early growth stages are up to 10.2 times more likely to secure funding from investors.   

​​The EPO also unveiled its new Deep Tech Finder, a free tool which blends business information with patent data, helping investors detect and assess European startups with European patent applications that are bringing disruptive inventions to market in critical technology areas.   

​​The panel discussion and Q&A featured Michiel Scheffer (President of the Board, European Innovation Council), Eoghan Hickey, (Transaction Partner, Jolt Capital), Rhona Togher (CEO and Co-founder LIOS), Jürgen Stampfl (Co-founder, Cubicure) and Yann Ménière. Moderated by Stéphane Barbot-Maire (Chief Content Officer, VIVA Technology), the panel explored funding from startup and investor perspectives, discussing the importance of strategy in helping companies benefit from their patents, common mistakes made by new startups, and using IP as an asset.  

​​Earlier this year, the EPO and the European Innovation Council (EIC) signed a letter of intent to strengthen operational ties between both organisations, aiming to support inventors and entrepreneurs across the continent. Following the Observatory event, the EPO and EIC met again to exchange on the latest developments. Delegates discussed their cooperation activities to date and how they could further support the key focus areas identified in their previous meeting.  These include sharing insights on the EU’s technological competitiveness through patent trend analysis and mapping, education and training activities for EIC staff, and supporting the EIC in identifying high potential projects.    

​​In his closing remarks, Gilles Requena, EPO Chief Patent Research and Policy Officer, emphasised the untapped potential for startups and investors in Europe, with many still unaware of the benefits of IP. He noted the role of cooperation in driving change, "This is our joint responsibility: no one alone can solve these huge challenges...there is so much we can achieve by grouping our forces.".    

​​Looking ahead, the EPO announced that its Observatory will focus on carbon capture innovation in December and cancer-fighting technologies in February next year.