Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

European IPR Helpdesk Report Summary

Project ID: 641474
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - European IPR Helpdesk (The European IPR Helpdesk)

Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The European IPR Helpdesk, funded under the current Horizon 2020 programme, supports cross-border SME and research activities to manage, disseminate and valorise technologies and other Intellectual Property (IP) Rights and IP assets at an EU level. Its major goal is to support IP capacity building along the full scale of IP practices: from awareness to strategic use and successful exploitation. This strengthening of IP competencies focuses on EU SMEs, participants and candidates in EU-funded projects, and EU innovation stakeholders for an increased translation of IP into the EU innovation ecosystem.

Against this backdrop the European IPR Helpdesk provides free-of-charge support products and services, including a broad range of informative material and self-study tools, a Helpline service for direct IP support, a comprehensive EU-wide IP and innovation training programme (in person and virtual) as well as communication and outreach activities. Moreover, the European IPR Helpdesk communicates and cooperates extensively with various stakeholders active in the field of research/innovation, business and IP support. Central stakeholders comprise EU trans-national innovation support networks such as the Enterprise Europe Network, business associations, national and international IP organisations, National Contact Points for FP7/Horizon 2020, the European Commission and other IPR Helpdesk services. The overall aim of this stakeholder management is to ensure that the European IPR Helpdesk fits efficiently into this EU IP support eco-system: not only to avoid overlap with other coordination and support actions, but to actively interact and support each other towards greater efficiency of services.

At a glance, the European IPR Helpdesk provides the following services:

Helpline

The Helpline service is operated by a team of IP experts. It offers information and tailor-made support on individual IP questions, and provides written answers within three working days.
The team also provides preliminary guidance on IP related issues within contracts and other agreements such as licensing or distribution agreements, joint ownership agreements and consortium agreements.

Helpline users’ confidential information is kept safe at all times. The European Commission contractually requires the European IPR Helpdesk to treat all information and documents received and dealt with by the Helpline in strictest confidence and to not make use of, nor divulge any information to third parties. The same contractual obligations are required of each member of the Helpline staff. The European IPR Helpdesk respects the confidentiality of any information provided in relation to the execution of the Helpline’s tasks, even after completion of the project.

Training

The overall goal of the European IPR Helpdesk’s training activities is to enable its target audiences to actively develop their own IP management strategies and processes. Based on a practical and comprehensive training approach, the team organises IPR training sessions throughout Europe: both as on-site training or as web-based seminars, which participants can join conveniently from their own computers. For self-study, educational clips are made available online.

Communication & Awareness-Raising

With the aim to increase awareness of the importance of IPR in general and about its services, the European IPR Helpdesk team safeguards systematic communication of new services and products towards its target users and stakeholders. Following a multidimensional communications strategy, activities include the provision of information material, the issuing and promotion of editorial content and press releases, use of social media as well as participation in brokerage events and conferences.

Website, Publications & Informative Material

IP is a multi-faceted topic. On the European IPR Helpdesk website, extensive information can be found on the different aspects of IPR and IP management. Various publications such as guides, fact sheets, FAQs or case studies provide useful information and practical guidance on how to tackle IP issues in business or during an EU-funded collaborative research project. All documents can be found in the online library of the European IPR Helpdesk website. In addition, a weekly email newsletter and a quarterly Bulletin make sure that subscribers stay up to date on the latest IP and IPR news. The team also provides informative material on request which can be distributed on events or in daily business.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Website

With over 10,000 registered users, including 3,500 since the beginning of 2015, the European IPR Helpdesk’s website keeps undergoing developments in order to enable a user-friendly experience. A new web design, implemented in 2015, as well as a constant update of the software and content aim at ensuring a continued and up-to-date online presence of the European IPR Helpdesk. Over 280,000 unique visitors consulted the website since the beginning of 2015, while publications were downloaded almost 50,000 times.

Communication & Awareness-Raising

With the aim to raise awareness about its services as well as about the importance and value of intellectual property management, the European IPR Helpdesk communications team has developed a set of marketing and audio-visual material to be disseminated to intermediaries and target user groups: pocket guides, infographics, leaflets etc. Over the reporting period, more than 16,100 copies of various informative and promotional materials have been distributed to different target audiences.

An animated clip highlighting the services offered by the European IPR Helpdesk has been published and shared through the website and social media platforms. Another two clips focusing on IP in Horizon 2020 and IP in Business are currently under production.

The communications team has also launched a new editorial content section for marketing purposes, in the form of 2 “IP Specials” focused on IP in the Bio-Sector and IP in Design; additional IP Specials will follow in the next reporting periods. Another new section on the website, entitled “IP & Innovation in the Spotlight”, was launched at the beginning of 2016 and aims at presenting articles, interviews, success stories, Helpline cases as well as news from the team and the world of IP in an online magazine way.

Besides the communication activities mentioned above, the European IPR Helpdesk’s awareness-raising team remains very present on the field, with participation in 52 events during 18 months, reaching more than 6,200 people. Targeted mailing actions addressing central stakeholder and intermediary organisations as well as constant social media activities complete the European IPR Helpdesk’s multi-channel communications strategy for the past 18 months.

Finally, with the overall aim to strengthen stakeholder relations in Brussels, the European IPR Helpdesk opened its “Brussels Office” at Rue du Trône 98 on 20 June 2016. The new premises provide added value to the existing training and support services of the European IPR Helpdesk and facilitate communication paths with EU institutions and stakeholders based in Brussels.

Stakeholder Coordination

The European IPR Helpdesk communicates and cooperates extensively with various stakeholders active in the field of research/innovation, business and IP support. Central stakeholders comprise EU transnational innovation support networks such as the Enterprise Europe Network, business associations, national and international IP organisations, National Contact Points for FP7/Horizon 2020, the European Commission and other IPR Helpdesk services. To this end, the Helpdesk’s stakeholder cooperation team regularly met with current and potential partners during the reporting period, in order to discuss and foster synergies with national and European IP and innovation stakeholders: joint organisation or participation to events, mutual promotion of events and publications, joint development of publications, etc. Apart from the above mentioned 52 awareness-raising events, 90 additional events/meetings and 82 training events were performed in cooperation with intermediaries/stakeholders, and 5 stakeholder meetings were organised since 2015. Out of these activities 85 awareness-raising events and 16 training sessions were performed in close cooperation with European IPR Helpdesk Ambassadors.

As part of the stakeholder coordination activities, the European IPR Helpdesk continues to administer this special network of “Ambassadors” – Enterprise Europe Network members with specific skills in intellectual property, acting as representatives of the Helpdesk in their own country. Further to events and workshops, 13 publications were translated by Ambassadors, while 39 articles were disseminated at national level through the ambassadors’ own networks over the reporting period. The European IPR Helpdesk’s Ambassador scheme thus continues to be a valuable tool to increase outreach at national/local level; at the same time, Ambassador meetings are organised twice a year by the European IPR Helpdesk in order to ensure training and foster the exchange of good IP practices.

Training activities

Over the reporting period, the European IPR Helpdesk’s training team has endeavoured the delivery of a comprehensive, EU-wide IP and innovation training programme.
In total, 117 IP training sessions were organised or co-organised by the European IPR Helpdesk and performed by the team and/or external experts: 6 large training events on IP in Horizon 2020, 5 large IP events on IP in business, 49 on-site IP training sessions delivered on request, 13 on-site training sessions requested by ambassadors, 30 regular, open webinars and 14 individual webinars.

On-site training sessions were performed across Europe, covering 19 member states and 3 non-member states associated to Horizon 2020 (Turkey, Norway, Iceland); while online participation reflected the involvement of users from all member states. In total, over 6,700 people benefited from the European IPR Helpdesk’s training services.

Training sessions were delivered on the basis of a comprehensive training approach with modules addressing different aspects of IP management and levels of competences. Training topics range from IP in general and IP in business to IP management and maximising impact in EU-funded (Horizon 2020) projects. A new training module with a special focus on Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) in Horizon 2020 was added to the training programme in 2015.

To facilitate self-learning, 9 new eLearning IP training videos were published on the European IPR Helpdesk’s website.

Content Creation (IP Publishing)

5 new fact sheets on IP in Business (e.g. on technology licensing-in or IP audit) and IP in EU-funded projects (e.g. on the PEDR in H2020) and 6 new case studies were developed since 2015 by the publications team of the European IPR Helpdesk, leading to a total of 55 fact sheets and 25 case studies available online. All publications developed have been put at the disposal of the target audiences for free on the European IPR Helpdesk website. Intermediaries and multipliers are encouraged to use them and further disseminate them to their own clients, provided that the source is acknowledged.

At the same time, 102 newsletter issues were sent to the European IPR Helpdesk subscribers, keeping them up to date on the latest developments in the field of IP, while 6 quarterly Bulletin issues were released, some of which adopted a thematic approach (e.g. focus on designs, focus on geographical indications) and allowed readers to look at IP and R&D issues from varying perspectives.

Helpline
The Helpline service of the European IPR Helpdesk has offered customised, comprehensible and free-of-charge support to 1,434 queries received over the reporting period. The service was especially popular with SMEs, which accounted for 34% of Helpline users; at the same time, the member states most frequently represented amongst enquirers were the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium and France.

The majority of IP queries received by the Helpline were raised in connection to IP management in EU-funded projects (FP7, H2020, AAL), while others were linked to general issues arising in business (e.g. filing of a trade mark, negotiation of a licence agreement, protection of software).

With regard to queries considered as “out of scope”, the Helpline endeavoured to inform enquirers as to the various services existing in the EU IP and innovation support ecosystem, in order not to leave any question unaddressed and ensure that users benefit from the whole array of support available. While the European IPR Helpdesk was not qualified to answer them, “out of scope” queries were redirected or “signposted” to appropriate support services, such as the Enterprise Europe Network for questions of business support or access to finance, National Contact Points for legal or financial (other than IP-related) queries linked to FP7/H2020, national IP offices or IP experts for questions arising in connection with national IP laws, or EUIPO/EPO/WIPO for queries linked to the procedure to file European or international applications.

Finally, the launch of a European IPR Helpdesk representation office in Brussels marked the start of the “Helpline hours” of the Helpline team. The team of IP advisors will continue this particular service during the next reporting period and will therefore be available for personal talks in Brussels on selected presence days in the coming months.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The European IPR Helpdesk strives to contribute to an efficient valorisation of EU-funded project results. Indeed, a globally improved understanding of intellectual property and its market value should generate more intellectual property related transactions and, in turn, a higher return on investment of European funding, to the benefit of the European market.

When it comes to SMEs, an improved competitiveness is targeted, through a better valorisation of their intangible assets, either through an effective commercialisation on the market in order to generate revenues, or via their exploitation by third parties, through for instance licensing, franchising or assignment. In that framework, European SMEs’ transnational activities are considered as essential in the open European market.

Ensuring exploitation and valorisation of intellectual property by the project’s target groups needs several conditions to be fulfilled: a sensitized audience, convincing and relevant messages, training material adapted to varying needs and levels of competences, informative and practical documentation material, and an efficient outreach strategy.

To this end, and in line with the Work Programme, the European IPR Helpdesk has strived to reach a number of key targets in order to reach the desired impact. These targets have been exceeded for the most part: while it was expected to have an SME ratio of 15% amongst the website registered users, and of 20% amongst helpline users, results for the first 18 months of the project show that 20% of new registered website users and 34% of helpline enquirers are SMEs. This underlines that the outreach and communication paths used by the European IPR Helpdesk team have, so far, successfully addressed this target group.

The targets set forth with regard to awareness-raising and training activities were also reached beyond the goals for the reporting period, with the outreach (total number of participants reached and/or trained) achieved for these activities representing respectively 63% and 77% of the outreach goals set up for the 4-year lifespan of the project.

Finally, it is worth to mention that the overall, planned outreach to SMEs was also attained during the reporting period: while it was expected to reach out to 2,000 SMEs in 2015 and 2,150 in 2016 (i.e. 3,075 over the reporting period), the European IPR Helpdesk actively reached more than 3,099 through its training, awareness-raising and helpline activities alone, and many more indirectly, through its website and publications.

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