Prime Ministers of the Western Balkans recently met to discuss ongoing efforts towards the creation of a joint economic zone. This is one of many initiatives designed to further the Western Balkans along the path towards integration into the European Union. SMEs in the Western Balkans countries are attracted to the EU as it represents a significant market for their products and services. However, it also represents increased competition which demands engagement and respect of intellectual property laws. There is therefore a need to develop the IP systems within the Western Balkans countries prior to their integration.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), under the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (EDIF), funded a programme in 2017 aimed at IP support and education in the region. As reported at the time, ClearViewIP won the bid for this programme.
Following the success of our first collaboration with the EIB, ClearViewIP was awarded the tender for the prestigious follow-up programme, after competing with several other leading consultancies who were also invited to bid for the work. Support Programme 2 on Intellectual Property and Intangible Assets in the Western Balkans comprises four main phases:
The scouting phase involves several missions to the Western Balkans to meet face-to-face with key stakeholders in the IP community. The goals of the missions are to inform the IP community of the project, encourage their participation at the workshops, and to disseminate information about the workshops and mentoring activities across the regional networks. Building on the well-attended and well received IP workshops delivered in the previous programme in 2017, four further interactive IP workshops are to be held across the region. The aims of the programme are to provide education and access to the IP toolkit while simultaneously offering an opportunity for those present to network with other regional IP stakeholders. The workshops also offer an excellent opportunity to identify potential beneficiaries of the follow-up SME IP mentoring. ClearViewIP is collaborating with IPR and Innovation Expert, Lisa Cowey of T3I Ltd to provide on-the-ground support from her base in Serbia. Lisa’s local experience in the Balkans helps to ensure the IP strengths of ClearViewIP are effective for this market.
The IP mentoring phase will begin with light-touch mentorship designed to offer IP assistance to 30 innovative SMEs from across the region, spanning any and all technology fields. The assistance may take the form of a prior art search, the creation of an investor deck, a trademark search, analysis of IP competitors, review and recommendations of IP contracts or another similar IP service. Of those who receive light-touch mentoring, 8 will be chosen based on the impact further mentorship will likely have. There will be multiple interactions with these SMEs over the course of 2 months in late 2018. A team of highly skilled IP specialists, comprising consultants and analysts, will help construct tailored IP strategies for the companies concerned. These will be aligned to the business strategy in such a way as to grow the business, maximising the value of the IP and mitigate against IP risks.
The primary outcome of the mentoring is the identification and support of SMEs who will benefit from, and take advantage of, the IP system in the Western Balkans to grow their business successfully; so-called “IP success stories”. Having regional case studies such as these will help encourage other SMEs within the region to take note of IP, leading to a greater appreciation for and utilisation of IP in Western Balkans businesses. This is of vital importance, especially for those hoping to expand into international markets where the companies will encounter more IP-rich and more IP educated jurisdictions.
ClearViewIP is thrilled to have been chosen again to engage with key stakeholders in the Western Balkans’ IP communities and identify innovative companies with IP potential. Through the IP education and mentoring activities planned, we will endeavour to develop the regional IP ecosystems to further the countries’ goal of integration into the European Union.