The EUIPO’s SME Fund has just completed a second year of successfully supporting SMEs, the backbone of the EU economy, when protecting their innovation and creativity through intellectual property. The fund provides financial support to EU SMEs for the protection of their intellectual property (IP) rights, by allowing them to apply for a partial refund for one the following activities: IP pre-diagnostic service (IP Scan); trade marks and designs applications; and national patent applications. The former, IP Scan, aims to advise SMEs on the potential of IP to develop their business, identifying the types of IP that may be valuable and should be protected (using the most appropriate methods available).
The SME Fund 2022 saw a total number of 22 479 applications from 27 EU countries, almost double the number of applications received in 2021.
Of the applicants for the SME Fund 2022, a total of 21 976 SMEs came from 27 EU countries, the vast majority of whom requested trade mark and design grants (voucher 1 requested) (21 504). Voucher 1, which consisted of a grant for trade marks and designs and IP Scan applications, proved to be, by far, the most popular voucher, for which a total amount of EUR 32 184 000 was awarded. Voucher 2 (national patents), a new addition to the 2022 SME Fund, received 2 208 requests. Spain made the most applications in 2022, with a total of 3 622 requests. This was followed by Poland (2 764), Italy (2 429) and France (1 855). Germany, which led in 2021, with 1 401 requests, finished in fifth position in 2022 with 1 780.
Requests from the SME Fund predominantly came from companies involved in the services sector, followed by those in the wholesale and retail sectors, and the manufacturing sector. The SME Fund is open to all small and medium-sized enterprises established in the European Union and 76.5 % of SMEs who applied in 2022 were “micro” SMEs . For 77 % of applicants for a SME Fund grant in 2022, it was their first time applying for an IP right. Furthermore, there was a 94 % satisfaction rate amongst applicants following the voucher request.
About the Fund
The SME Fund initiative is a European Commission initiative which grants financial aid for Intellectual Property (IP) matters. It is implemented by the EUIPO, with the support of the National Intellectual Property Offices . The programme is open to all EU companies that meet the official definition of SME, and offers financial support for the acquisition of IP rights (trade marks, designs and patents). This initiative has been running since January 2021 and, to date, a total of 33 385 applications submitted by SMEs have been awarded.
The Future of the SME Fund
In November 2022 , the EUIPO Management Board approved “an additional set of activities for refund in the framework of the SME Fund initiative 2022-2024.” The SME Fund 2023 will open for applications from Monday 23 January 2023 and will run until 15 December 2023. Funds are available on a first come, first served basis.
Article first published here.