Published 18 September 2018

When a member of the public donates to a medical research charity they trust the charity to spend their money in a responsible way and to consider how to make the best possible impact for patients. This can often involve protecting research discoveries and taking advantage of intellectual property (IP), which stops others from copying their designs or processes without consent or payment.

In 1997, we developed guidance on IP terms and conditions to help our members navigate the complex IP landscape. Twenty years later, in 2017, we consulted research funders and stakeholders to ensure the guidance better reflects current practices in this area.

The resulting guidance has now been published, providing an updated framework for charities developing their own policies and processes to help them protect their right to IP and to income generated, so that they can use it to fund more vital research.

Aisling Burnand MBE, Chief Executive of AMRC, commented:

'One of our roles at AMRC is to ensure that all of our members are equipped to keep up with the shifting sands of change in today’s research landscape to have the most impact they can for patient benefit. This guidance is the result of two years of extensive advice from those with expertise in the field, a wide public consultation and recognition of current best practice. As guidance it is exactly that – something which provides a guide to those who wish to follow it. This is not mandatory but should prove helpful to those who have less experience in this area.’

Jon Spiers, Chief Exectuvie of Autistica, commented:

'As a small charity, we hugely value the relationships we’ve built over many years with leading UK universities. The UK’s unique research ecosystem allows specialist funders like Autistica to kickstart innovative studies and support future scientific leaders within the world-class infrastructure of our university sector. When those studies and those visionary researchers develop innovations with the potential to change lives, it’s key that both sides are rewarded fairly for their contribution, so that charities and universities can remain sustainably interdependent.

'All of our studies are funded entirely from the donations our supporters work tirelessly to raise. Increasingly, donors expect to see not just scientific impact from their gifts but tangible, real-world impact. Charities have a unique role to play in bringing innovations to the market, from backing early stage studies, through implementation and data science, to product design and development informed by our beneficiaries. Through a partnership of equals between the voluntary and academic sectors, we can both achieve more.’