Intellectual Property (IP) commercialisation by UK universities (the so-called ‘technology transfer’) is a fundamental driving force behind entrepreneurship and job creation. But often the lack of guidance from universities correlated with badly written and/or not readily available University IP Policies and/or Regulations may lead to a lack of entrepreneurial drive, both from students and academic staff.
We have set out to investigate and rank how UK universities approach the ownership* and accessibility** of the IP developed by their students (current and immediate past alumni).
The investigation was based exclusively on published (online or downloadable) University IP Policies and/or Regulations on student IP ownership and exploitation.
The ranking was compiled based on 2 main criteria – (i) the students’ ease of retrieval of and access to their University’s IP Policy and/or Regulations and (ii) the transparency (or lack) of the IP Policies and/or Regulations in acknowledging IP creation and ownership by students as a distinct category of creators and exploiters of IP.
The data for the IP Policies and/or Regulations was collected during the month of December 2021. Therefore, if you are representing a university, please feel free to sign-up on our website menu https://www.ip-rank.co.uk/sign-up/ where you can upload your policies or regulations which we could not retrieve during our investigation or, alternatively, to indicate the location on your website where these can be found or freely downloaded.
The ranking has highlighted a wide range of variations in university legislation around student IP, which led to a grouping of the IP Policies and/or Regulations into 4 distinct Tiers. The top 2 Tiers are listing the universities which have published IP Policies, with Tier 1 universities providing a standalone Student IP Policy (thus separate from their ‘Staff IP Policy’). Tier 3 universities have incorporated student IP ownership in their Regulations, frequently in University Regulations or University Policies on student admissions. Tier 4 universities do not have published or readily accessible IP Policies and/or Regulations.
This is the Second Edition of the UK University IP Ranking and is intended to encourage dialogue with stakeholders such as universities, their student entrepreneurs, as well as IP professionals and funders (both research and regional councils and private inventors). Thus, looking forward, we aim to refine our framework for ranking the IP Policies of UK universities based on stakeholder feedback, as well as on universities updating or making their IP policies readily available.
Therefore, feel free to contact us here to provide your feedback.
A standalone Student IP Policy exists and is easily retrievable and downloadable following a simple Google search using natural language and keyword combinations such as 'UniName IP policy for students'.
A university-wide IP policy exists and is retrievable and downloadable, sometimes with a medium degree of difficulty, following a Google search using natural language and keyword combinations such as ‘UniName IP policy’ or ‘UniName intellectual property policy’. Some of the retrieved policies are unusually short (only 2 to 4 pages). Although the policy is exceptionally clear as to students’ IP ownership rights, it also includes IP policies for staff, academic visitors and other persons engaged with the university. Nonetheless, the students’ IP provisions of the IP policy may be viewed as a stand-alone section.
University legislation around student IP ownership exists and may be available online when employing a Google search. However, most of the legislation could only be retrieved by searching the universities’ websites directly. The legislation is mostly found buried in University Regulations, University Policies or within Student Admission Brochures. As such, these sources only relate in-part to IP provisions for students and are mostly restricted to student IP ownership.
Specific university legislation around student (or even staff) IP ownership does not appear to exist. Furthermore, even when some university hyperlinks indicate that IP-related policies may exist, these are only made available upon site login using a university ID. Nonetheless, some universities make available Copyright Policies or Research Ethics Policies or Regulations (which touch upon types of IP rights).
Jeff Skinner - Executive Director, Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, London Business School
This ranking brings complete transparency; every university needs be in the top tier and now knows how to get there.
Professor Alan Barrell - Cambridge Innovation Academy
A much needed study leading to pathways to follow for innovative and entrepreneurial young people to explore and understand the importance and value of Intellectual Property and how to protect it. This is a “first of kind” information channel and very well researched and presented. Deserving of attention and support.
Dr Will Lovegrove, Director of Innovation Strategy, University of Surrey
Helping students understand their intellectual property rights is very important to the University of Surrey. We believe that more students would be motivated to engage in innovation activities if a bigger proportion of the student body had a better understanding of their rights. It is wonderful to have our recent work to refresh our IP Policy in a plain-English style and produce a special “guide to student IP” recognised and rewarded in the form of a promotion to IP Rank’s Tier-1 status.
The 2020 IP Ranking is judged and administrated by:
12Ronnies helps students and universities align themselves on Intellectual Property, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship.12ronnies.com
IP (patent, design, trade mark) protection: drafting, filing and prosecuting of IP applications, IP consultancy, IP strategy development, IP Audits, investor readiness and due diligence, management of IP portfolios, IP training & education, retained IP support for young companies. innovare-ip.co.uk
* UK students generally own any IP they create in a university environment (as undergraduate students, but often also as graduate students) by virtue of the fact that students are generally not defined as / assumed to be employees of the university.
** The UK legislation dealing with IP ownership comprises the UK Patents Act 1977, the Registered Designs Act 1949, the Trade Marks Act 1994, the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Intellectual Property Act 2014. The default IP ownership position is that the IP belongs to its creator unless this position is altered by contract (typically employment or consultancy contracts).