When scoping the requirements for the Gateway to Research, SMEs often asked us "Who owns the Intellectual Property (IP) derived from Research Council funded projects?" and "What do I do if I want to access the IP derived from Research Council projects?"
The Research Councils' strategies and policies around intellectual asset management have been developed to enable innovation to flourish, and encourage companies to translate research outcomes into practice and deliver growth and benefit to the UK economy and society.
In respect of research grant funding, unless stated otherwise, the ownership of intellectual property, and responsibility for its exploitation, rests with the organisation carrying out the research. The Research Council itself generally makes no claim to the intellectual property arising from the research it funds†, suggesting a flexible approach to intellectual property management, and not laying down any prescriptive rules about how intellectual property should be identified or managed by the host institution.
Research Councils may, in individual cases, reserve the right to retain ownership of intellectual property and to arrange for it to be exploited for the national benefit in other ways. If exercised, this condition is included in the terms of the relevant grant or award.
If an individual or a company wishes to learn more about a research project or gain access to IP, they should contact the host Research Organisation. Research Councils expect both the host Research Organisation and interested parties to take effective decisions about intellectual asset management that deliver the most benefit to society and the economy. This will include recognising circumstances where the publication of research outcomes or free dissemination to users might be the most effective approach. RCUK encourages Research Organisations to consider innovative and appropriate ways of managing intellectual assets to ensure that potential economic and societal benefits can be realised by beneficiaries. RCUK also encourages Research Organisations to seek opportunities for sharing or combining intellectual assets to maximise the potential of delivering benefits.
There are exceptions to this regarding work carried out at some Research Council Institutes.