20 December 2014

The Sheffield Devolution Agreement should mean more Business Support - but will it be the Right Kind?

Sheffield Town Hall
Photo Wikipedia

In his Autumn statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced investments of up to £7 billion to transform the great cities of the North of England into an economic powerhouse.  At paragraph 1.187 of his statement he wrote:
"Studies have shown that innovators and entrepreneurs are attracted to work in creative and cultural areas, which offer a high quality of life. Strong civic leadership is instrumental in enabling this. In addition, research by the OECD shows that cities around the world with fragmented governance structures have lower levels of productivity than those that do not."
 The Chancellor referred to HM government's devolution agreement with Greater Manchester Combined Authority agreement on 3 Nov 2014 in his statement and added that other city regions had come up with similar proposals.  One of the first of those city regions is Sheffield City Region which announced a devolution deal with with the government of 12 Dec 2014.

Details of the deal appear on the Sheffield City Council website. Under the deal a range of powers will be transferred to the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority and the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership in relation to skills and training, employment, business support, transport, housing and future devolution.  The business support programme promises the following:
  • "Sheffield City Region will align national and local business support through the LEP’s growth hub, so that businesses get a joined up service which meets their needs. The Government will work with SCR to develop a devolved approach to the delivery of business support from 2017 onwards, subject to the outcome of future spending reviews
  • UKTI will become principle partner with Sheffield City Region’s Export Centre of Expertise and work closely with the LEP to encourage more businesses to export.
  • Government and Sheffield City Region will work towards a solution that will allow the Yorkshire JEREMIE to continue on an interim basis."
Having set up and supported the Sheffield inventors Group and operated IP clinics in Barnsley and Rotherham over the last 10 years, I welcome the creation of a business growth hub in the city region. 

The announcement promises "a comprehensive suite of services that will be tailored to the bespoke needs of businesses."  One of those needs is independent expert advice on IP strategy, that is to say advice on the intellectual property rights that are needed to achieve a business's objectives. There are plenty of business advisers in South Yorkshire but few of them understand how to to use the bundle of laws that protect investment in branding, design, technology or creative works that we call "intellectual property". Similarly, there are patent and trade mark attorneys who can prosecute patent, trade mark and registered design applications but few of them can advise on the business needs of their clients,

I will continue to provide pro bono advice on IP strategy at the Barnsley Business Innovation Centre on the second Tuesday of the month between 10 and 12 and will carry on supporting the Sheffield Inventors. Should anyone wish to discuss this article, IP strategy, business support or the devolution agreement, call me on 01484 599090 during office hours or message me through my contact form. I might not be too pleased to be mithered on 25 Dec but I am available to business owners and their professional advisers at all other times. 

Merry Chrsitmas!