By Dr Liz Philpots, Head of Research & Impact, AMRC

Published: 11 December 2018

Earlier this year, AMRC updated its guidance on IP and revenue sharing. In this blog, Liz Philpots, Head of Research & Impact, sets some myths to rest and explains AMRC’s future plans in this area.

One of our roles at AMRC is to ensure that all our members are equipped to keep up with the shifting sands of change in today’s research landscape, to help them maximise patient benefit. In 1997, we developed guidance on IP terms and conditions to help our members navigate the complexities of IP. Twenty years later, our members told us that this guidance was getting a tad bit out of date.

So, working with a group of interested members, I explored current practice and went about revising it.

The word on the street and what the new guidance says

Since implementing the guidance, we’ve received a number of interesting queries that we thought we’d help answer…

Do all AMRC charities have to do this?

  • No - The new guidance is not mandatory for our members to adopt; it’s a suggested approach to help them navigate the complex IP landscape. We intend it to act as a framework and a starting point for charities considering and developing their own policies and processes.

Isn’t this a huge change in how research is supported and commercialised?

  • The update to our guidance reflects many of the policies that are already in place across our membership. There is no significant shift in the way that AMRC members are currently handling IP. 

Is it true that the larger funders in the sector aren't implementing the guidance?

  • The three big funders have been fully involved in both the consultation process and the group advising us on the creation of the guidance. Individually they have created their own ways of working with IP which suits their research and their ways of working which is exactly what we suggest in our guidance. The proportions we refer to are a guide which we encourage our members to use as a baseline when considering developing their own approach. The larger funders have been and remain totally supportive of the guidance we produced.

Why do charities collect revenue from IP exploitation?

  • Medical research charities are supported by the public to invest in research with the potential to deliver transformative outcomes for patients. Any revenues they generate from IP will be used to fund more innovative research.

Working in partnership

We were keen to ensure the revised guidance would be feasible, so we consulted with stakeholders on a draft version in May 2018, including universities and their Technology Transfer offices. This enabled us to capture the full impact of the change and highlighted a number of issues that went beyond the guidance:

  • do smaller charities / universities have the internal resources to act in a timely manner when deals are being done?
  • Is there a way to simplify the reporting required by charities – so it is consistently provided with minimum administrative burden to universities?
  • Will this guidance lead to universities stopping researchers from applying to charities?
  • How can we work better together as a sector?

These are important questions. To answer them, AMRC is bringing together an IP advisory group with members from universities, charities and independent legal and business development experts, who can advise on a number of the more contentious issues raised by the consultation.

The group had their first meeting on 5 December 2018.