The Export Power and Potential of UK IP

A Global Investment Conference in London is putting Intellectual Property on the agenda.

The GREAT Global Investment Conference is today taking place at Lancaster House, London. Organised by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the event promises to bring together investors, business leaders and government ministers from around the world.

The search among these attendees for new partnerships and sources of international growth is timely given the UK’s yawning gap between what we import and export, known as our current account deficit. The conference will have a particular focus on “leading by design and innovation,” which BOP’s analysis of the latest trade data suggests is well chosen.

Design and innovation are needed to generate Intellectual Property (IP), which, in turn, increases exports. In the table below, BOP has calculated year-to-year percentage change in the export of services, which shows intellectual property (IP) enjoyed the second fastest rate of annual growth in 2014 among these categories.

Source: Balance of Payments, Q4 2014, (Office of National Statistics)

Following criticism of the UK’s economic statistics, not least from the Bank of England, Professor Sir Charles Bean is currently undertaking an independent review of them. If we wish these statistics to give us a stronger insight into the exports with greatest potential, it would be useful to have a more granular breakdown of IP exports, both the kinds of IP being exported and to where in the world it is being exported.

If we could link up improved public statistics with more targeted support from UKTI, as well as those arms of government responsible for supporting design and innovation, such as BIS and the IPO, we’d enter the realms of the smarter state heralded this week by the prime minister.