We are thrilled to announce the 2019 results for the fifth annual IP League Table. Firstly, welcome to the many new entrants to the IP100, several of whom have entered both the top twenty overall and secured top places in individual IP asset categories. We have been so impressed with the high standard of IP management shown by entrants this year, and in particular with businesses that have taken innovative steps to safeguard their IP.
Once again, congratulations go to M Squared, a photonics technology company, which has retained its spot at the top of the IP100 League Table for the third consecutive year. P2i, a company specialising in developing and manufacturing liquid repellent nanocoatings, achieved the runner up spot for the second time, despite improving on its 2018 score. Jumping up six places into third was Canon Medical Research Europe, the medical software research and development centre based in Edinburgh.
We believe that a robust IP strategy is key to the growth of any business and plays a pivotal role in mitigating the risks associated with growing any business in the modern economy. We were therefore excited to welcome several new entrants to the IP100: high-scorers Mallzee, the personal shopping app developer; renewables innovator, Recycling Technologies; content management solutions provider, Tempus IME; and retailer insights specialist, Personify XP.
We congratulate all our new IP100 entrants for taking an active role in putting their IP assets and IP strategy “under the spotlight”. We are delighted to welcome them into the IP100 community and hope they will join us at upcoming IP100 Club events to hear first-hand from other IP-rich fast-growing entrants how they can best protect and leverage their IP to support business expansion. They now have their initial IP scores which can be used as a benchmark and useful baseline from which to review their IP strategies. We look forward to seeing their IP and IP scores improve over the next year.
The following tables highlight the results obtained from the scoring of entrants. The process involves an assessment of IP-specific data linked to the following five IP asset categories: (1) Brand & Reputation, (2) Patents, (3) Critical Databases, (4) Software and (5) Trade Secrets. The IP100 research team uses its proprietary process to calculate an IP score and subsequent ranking for each IP100 entrant.
We’re pleased to announce our leaderboards:
M Squared this year boosted its performance in the Patents asset category, leapfrogging three spots to take the coveted number one spot. P2i came in second place, having established comprehensive IP and patent management strategies in respect of its vast patent portfolio. Canon Medical Research Europe, boasting a sprawling and meticulously-managed patent portfolio, came in third place. As entrants continuously seek to mitigate the risks surrounding their IP portfolio, it is evident that firms filing and relying on patents are alert to the risks and good practice associated with preparing patent applications: 95% of entrants scoring in the patents category conducted some level of searching or freedom-to-operate searches before filing patents, and 77% of entrants engaged third-party specialists to conduct searches on their behalf.
Once again, Brand & Reputation is the asset category with the highest average score in the IP League Table: this is perhaps no surprise given that brands are usually the first and most distinctive IP asset type recognised by a business or consumer. This year, Digitonic came out on top after last year taking second place. Digitonic is a technology-driven mobile marketing company that has continued to develop the sophistication of its brand portfolio, expanding its international footprint and continuing to win coveted industry awards. Table-topping, M Squared, was this year’s runner-up in the Brand category and third place went to Premier COREX, an international provider of analytical services for the oil and gas sector, which is once again placing highly in the IP League Table. Entrants clearly recognise the importance of formally protecting their brands, with 80% opting to register either their corporate or product brands as trade marks, and 55% opting to register both. Moreover, social media presence is now universal among IP100 entrants, with almost 100% of entrants utilising social media to support their brand(s), and more than 80% following specific strategies when updating their social media profiles.
For the second year running, the trade secrets category was the most improved asset class for the top performers. Additionally, more entrants than ever are utilising trade secrets to protect their most critical IP assets, with 70% of all entrants utilising at least some level of trade secrets protection for their IP. In first place was Mativision, which develops and supplies cutting-edge VR, AR and MR technology for major firms including Jeep, Vodafone and the MTV EMAs. Second place went to Sphere Fluidics, where its 2019 implementation of a trade secrets policy has significantly increased the sophistication of its IP strategy and internal IP culture. IP100 heavyweight, P2i, secured third place in the Trade Secret category. It is now the rule rather than exception for firms to make explicit provisions governing trade secret protection in employee contracts, with 71% of scored companies now opting to do so, and the remaining 29% capturing trade secrets under the generic umbrella of provisions for ‘Confidential Information’.
The General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”) revolution may be over, but nevertheless we saw an increase once again in the average score for entrants in the Critical Databases asset category. Coming in first place was Canon Medical Research Europe, which utilises a wide range of databases to inform various aspects of its business development and revenue generation. In second place was P2i, which operates a wide range of proprietary product and chemistry databases directly supporting its revenue streams. Third place went to M Squared, which employs a wide range of sophisticated analytics techniques in interpreting data, at the same time as maintaining robust data management strategies to ensure GDPR compliance. In line with broader market trends, data-driven marketing among IP100 entrants is now more prevalent than ever, with 73% of scorers in the Critical Databases category utilising customer data, to varying degrees, to inform their marketing strategies. Moreover, the firms scored in this category have continued to treat their critical data with extreme sensitivity, with 92% of entrants restricting employee access to critical data.
First place in the 2019 Software asset category went to DP Governance, a data protection firm that, with the aid of highly innovative proprietary technology, helps organisations across a variety of sectors identify the key weaknesses in their data protection procedures and protocols. DP Governance secured the top spot not only because its proprietary Parsyfal® and Pathfinder® software packages represent fine examples of how the development of cutting-edge software can underpin revenue generation, but also because it has established robust procedures for annotating, safeguarding, and scaling-up its software. Last year’s winners in the Software category Polarisoft came in second place, building on the outstanding documentation of its PPM Anywhere project management software. In third place was Intelligent Plant, whose Industrial App Store enables operators to streamline production, increase efficiency and limit unnecessary expenditure in the field of oil and gas. The vast majority of entrants now utilise off-site storage systems when protecting their software source code, with 93% opting to use cloud-based storage systems to securely store their source code.
In the present political climate it is increasingly difficult to consider commercial macro and micro economic trends and market developments without mentioning the ‘B’ word, but we came across no evidence that Brexit has had any discernible impact, positive or negative, on entrants’ IP scoring or their IP strategies. While some entrants expressed uncertainty about the future for the protection and cultivation of IP in a United Kingdom outside the regulatory ambit of the EU, it appears that developments at Westminster and Brussels have to date neither jeopardised nor boosted the commercial development of IP in the UK. Only time will tell what impact, if any, Brexit has on commercial and business creativity in the UK, and we will continue to monitor these developments with keen interest.
The dust has now largely settled since the 2018 rolling out of the monumental General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”). Last year, we saw a significant increase in the average score in the Critical Databases Asset Category, as companies sought to boost the robustness of their internal data-management systems in order to maintain compliance. This year saw a further, albeit more gradual, increase in the average score for IP league table entrants.
The EU Trade Secrets Directive, which sought to standardise national laws in EU countries against the unlawful acquisition, disclosure and use of trade secrets, came into effect in May 2018 and prompted companies creating IP not just to implement trade secret protection, but also to increase the robustness of these protocols. This new regulation was clearly on the minds of entrants during scoring calls, with some explicitly mentioning the importance of remaining compliant with the new regulation when discussing protections surrounding their trade secrets. Since 2017 we have seen a year-on-year increase of almost 50% in entrants establishing specific trade secrets policies to protect their trade secrets. This year 38% of all entrants scoring in the Trade Secrets Asset Category have such a policy in place, compared to 26% in 2018, and 18% in 2017.
We were impressed at the number of companies that scored highly in the Software Asset Category. It has become increasingly common for entrants both to utilise industry-leading software development techniques, including protecting their software using a combination of different approaches including encryption and dummy coding, and to develop and implement proprietary software to conduct automated beta-testing and scalability testing. With so many entrants scoring well, it was a challenge to separate the winners in this year’s round of scoring.
The IP League Table ranking process is based upon the assessment of five key IP asset classes: (1) Brand & Reputation, (2) Patents, (3) Critical Databases, (4) Software and (5) Trade Secrets. These IP asset categories are consistently recognised as being some of the key IP assets owned or relied on by highly successful companies. They are used to create effective and robust barriers to entry, and typically underpin the competitive advantages needed for rapid growth and international expansion. An effective IP strategy focused on building such competitive advantages enables such companies to scale up more quickly.
With fresh blood in the IP100 team this year, Hannah Roussel has stepped into the marketing role and has been driving the creation and development of the IP100 club events and engagement with entrants and sponsors. Behind the scenes, Ryan Diamond and Fergus Horne have been focused on scoring entrants over the last three months. Having been through Metis Partners’ intensive IP training, and learnt all there is to know about our Metisology, it wasn’t difficult for them to quickly get to grips with the IP League Table, the substantial history and track record of previous entrants, and our aims and objectives for the IP100. The new team has brought a fresh set of eyes to the IP League Table, as well as a renewed enthusiasm to engage with new and existing entrants. By speaking with entrants about the progress in their business since last year’s IP League Table, they have been given a unique insight into changes in entrants’ attitudes to IP protection, and IP’s significance in relation to fundraising valuations and exit valuations. Naturally, they also get to hear some great stories and insights about IP protection from entrants large and small.
Once again, our partners and sponsors have greatly contributed to our IP100 network and events programme. This year we welcome two new sponsors to the IP100: Baker Botts, a leading global law firm with a proud history of more than 150 years, plus over 200 lawyers dedicated to IP. They have been terrific hosts of IP100 Club events over the last twelve months offering practical insights into good IP strategy and IP management. Catax are experts in specialist areas of tax relief such as capital allowances and R&D tax credits, which has saved their clients more than £242m to date. Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank have once again provided much appreciated support and sponsorship to the IP100. Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank’s growth finance team assists a wide variety of businesses to fundraise based on the strength and integrity of their IP, and in recent years has provided more than £130m of lending to IP-rich companies. We are also pleased to report that London Stock Exchange ELITE and the UKIPO continue to provide their invaluable support.
We were pleased to welcome new Champions to the IP100 community this year, hosting IP100 Club events with start-up growth provider Momentum London and Smith & Williamson, advisors to entrepreneurial businesses. In addition, we welcomed John Anderson’s laudable, Growth Advantage Programme at Strathclyde Business School as another IP100 Champion. We all agree and recognise that IP assets are central to the success of high growth businesses.
IP100 Club events are held across the UK and provide a unique forum for entrants in the IP League Table, sponsors and investors to come together and share vital information on how best to manage and exploit IP assets. These events also give these parties the unique opportunity to network and learn from each other’s experiences of growth and expansion, enabling each to grow closer connections together at the same time expanding their knowledge of the potentials and perils of IP exploitation. We have continued our smaller IP100 roundtable events, available exclusively to entrants and sponsors, which give attendees invaluable insights into IP valuation, IP strategy and using IP in innovative fundraising structures. The IP100 and IP League Table is the one of the U.K.’s most dynamic and fastest-growing platforms for scalable IP-rich companies seeking investment and continues to raise awareness nationwide about the vital importance of IP in contributing to the growth economy and any business enterprise.