Business support for SMEs

In January 2013 the UK Intellectual Property Office published a booklet ( titled "Business Support for SMEs: Maximising the Value of Intellectual Property".

This booklet is a useful starting point for SMEs looking to find out what advice and financial support is available for them in the UK.

A summary of the forms of support covered in the booklet is provided below.

The Growth Accelerator scheme ( provides guidance and support for high growth SMEs in England from business growth specialists.  The costs for using the scheme range from £600-£3000 depending on the size of the business and are subsidised.

The Design Leadership Programme ( is delivered by the Design Council and provides coaching and mentoring services for SMEs, public sector organisations and universities.  A team of Design Associates help clients develop a design strategy to realise a final design product.  The cost for using the programme ranges from £2k to £15k but may be subsidised by up to 50%.

Passport to Export ( is a scheme which helps businesses plan and develop their international trade.  An in-depth capability assessment is provided as well as training from experts, including IP awareness training.

The Technology Strategy Board has set up a network of Catapult Centres ( which are technology and innovation centres focussing on technologies with potentially large markets and a significant UK capability.  They provide businesses with technology and expertise which might not otherwise be available to them and also carry out their own research.

The Manufacturing Advisory Service ( offers manufacturing support to businesses in England.  A free business review helps companies to develop a specialist project plan addressing their particular needs.  Up to 50% match funding is available, from £300 to £3000.

The Patent Box ( will be phased in from April 2013 and will provide a reduced rate of corporation tax for companies developing and exploiting patented inventions.

SMART grants ( provide SMEs with up to 60% funding for projects relating to proof of market, proof of concept or prototype development.

Innovation vouchers ( provide SMEs with a grant of up to £5000 to work with a supplier of knowledge or technology transfer for the first time.

The IP Audit scheme provides SMEs with an IP assessment from a qualified IP professional of their choice to help them develop and implement an IP policy for their business.  The cost of the audit (up to £3000) is covered by the IPO.

PatLib Centres ( are a network of thirteen libraries across the UK, including the Business and IP Centre ( at the British Library, each of which has staff who can provide IP and business advice.

A free Online Healthcheck ( for any business to perform a basic assessment of its IP is available at the IPO website.

Catherine Noronha, Associate