UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) launches ‘IP Access’ fund to support SMEs


The government will pay up to £5,000 to SMEs to help them protect and commercialise their IP.

The IP Access fund forms part of the UK government’s Innovation Strategy and builds on the existing IP Audit Plus programme. The new fund offers grants of up to £5,000 to support businesses in the management and commercialisation of their IP.

Who is eligible for the funding?

SMEs (with fewer than 250 employees and a turnover of not more than £41m) who have been (or will be) awarded part-funding for an IP audit between April 2020 and March 2022.

What can the funding be used for?

The money can be used to cover the cost of services related to:

  • The management of IP assets;
  • Commercialisation of IP;
  • Licensing and franchising agreements;
  • IP insurance;
  • IP valuation;
  • Tax relief advice;
  • Professional fees for IP services in the UK and abroad.

How can businesses apply?

Businesses who have been awarded part-funding for an IP audit since April 2020 with an IP audit partner (Innovate UK Edge (formerly Enterprise Europe Network), Scottish Enterprise, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, or the Welsh Government) can apply for the funding straight away by contacting the organisation who assisted with their IP audit application.

Businesses who have not been awarded part-funding for an IP audit must first conduct an IP audit. Upon completion of the IP audit, an application under the IP Access fund can be made.

Conducting an IP audit

An IP audit is a comprehensive review of a business’ IP carried out by an IP professional such as a patent attorney.  IP may include patents, trademarks, designs, copyright, and know-how. The benefits of conducting an IP audit, include:

  • Identifying what IP is owned by a business.
  • Obtaining guidance regarding IP strategy, management, and ownership.
  • Identifying new opportunities to profit from IP.
  • Identifying potential problems.
  • Gaining assistance with budgeting.

Under the IP Audit Plus scheme, the total value of the IP audit is £3,000 (inc. VAT). The UK IPO contributes £2,500 towards the audit, and the remaining £500 is payable by the business on completion of the report.

Applications must be submitted to the UK IPO through one of the above-mentioned IP audit partners.

Following approval of the application, the business may choose any qualified UK-based IP professional to carry out the IP audit.  As a trusted supplier, we can carry out the audit.

How can we help?

At Forresters, we have extensive experience in conducting IP audits and in developing and implementing robust and cost-effective IP strategies for SMEs.  In the first instance, we can provide advice regarding the schemes discussed and can help put you in contact with a suitable IP audit partner. Following a successful application to either the IP Audit Plus programme or the IP Access fund, we can provide appropriate services tailored to your needs. To speak to us about our services and arrange a discussion, please contact us.