Get set, go-innovate – protecting sporting ambition

24th April 2019

From sporting icons protecting their brands to companies forging ahead with new technologies, materials and training equipment to deliver a more competitive edge, the world of sport is big business.

This year’s World Intellectual Property Day celebrates IP in sport with a campaign, Reach for Gold. Organisers, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, explained: “Business relationships built on IP rights help to secure the economic value of sport. This, in turn, stimulates growth of the industry by enabling sporting organisations to finance the events we savour, and by providing the means to promote sports development at the grassroots.”

Interface supports businesses as they develop and create new technologies, products or services which push the boundaries of sporting achievements further, faster and higher, often aiding athletes and sportspeople behind the scenes.

Recent statistics from the European Patent Office show that innovation is thriving in Scotland with an increase in the number of applications filed in recent years. Almost 300 patent applications were received from Scottish companies last year, a 7% rise on the previous year, with medical technology, digital communication and computer technology featuring strongly. A fifth of all applications came from small and medium-sized businesses, which shows that innovation is an important part of developing businesses of all sizes.

When collaborative projects generate IP it is important to be clear from the start who owns it – the business, the university, or jointly. Interface’s role is in matching up businesses with suitable academic partners, so we don’t get directly involved in IP agreements. However, we have paved the way for smoother collaborations by ensuring that all 19 of Scotland’s universities use standard and accessible legal templates, developed by Universities Scotland and Interface, for projects funded through the Scottish Funding Council’s Innovation Vouchers.

Here are some of our sporting achievements:

  • Rugby coach Richie Gray wanted to prevent players from being injured in training and so tapped into Interface’s free and impartial service to find engineering expertise at Heriot-Watt University to help develop his product, Maul King.  This initial collaboration gave Richie insight and new knowledge about how players moved, which he incorporated into subsequent designs including the Scrum360 and ProScrum, both taken to market by world-leading equipment supplier for rugby RHINO.
  • Chris Simpson, the Technical Director at Flaér, contacted Interface when the company was in the final stage of testing the Revo Via, the world’s first chain performance system. They were keen to engage with an academic department with full wind tunnel facilities and associated expertise to validate the effectiveness of the new product. After putting out a search to various universities, Interface introduced Chris to Dr Richard Green from the Department of Aerospace Sciences at the University of Glasgow to access their wind tunnel facility and the related specialist support the University offers. Chris said: “Thanks to the work of Interface and their wide reach of academic contacts, we have been able to reach out to specialists who have been able to help us fulfil our project requirements. The response time, communication and understanding provided by Interface was outstanding. Their attention to detail and support was extremely valuable in our business achieving its goals”.

So, to give your business the competitive edge: ready, get set, go-innovate!