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Reviewed 1 July 2011

UK businesses urged to protect intellectual property to seize global opportunities

A new report published by UK Trade & Investment today highlights how holding intellectual property protection is linked to a ten per cent increase in overseas turnover.

The report, 'New Markets, New Ideas', also shows how crucial intellectual property protection will be to a new breed of young companies and their future success.

Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Wilcox said:

"Designs, patents, trademarks and copyright add great value to businesses in the UK and overseas. Having a strong intellectual property regime gives companies the confidence they need to develop products and services knowing they will reap the financial rewards for their work.

"We are determined to help companies working from the UK to use their ability to innovate knowing their ideas and products are secure. Trade and Investment and intellectual property are all central to the Government’s growth agenda. By giving companies the opportunities to protect their innovative and creative ideas, they will be able to grow in the UK and abroad."

The report will be launched today at the Institute of Directors' International Trade Forum by UKTI acting chief executive Susan Haird.

More and more young companies are looking to grab opportunities abroad at an earlier stage; in fact 17 per cent of new firms can be classified as 'born globals' as they have traded abroad since they were formed.

The research also suggests businesses are becoming more comfortable trading overseas with 37 per cent of firms less than five years old reporting no significant barriers to trading overseas. More than a third of companies under five years old are already doing business in high-growth markets and companies are becoming more innovative as a benefit of exporting.

The research provides support to the idea of a virtuous circle for exporters where exporting leads to innovation and in turn greater opportunities for more exports. More than half of the companies surveyed (53 per cent) said a new product or service evolved because of their business overseas.

Despite the obvious benefits, the research showed 14 per cent of UK companies surveyed found protecting their IP a major problem and many companies still do not hold IP protection.

Of companies that have not used UKTI services, only one in five (21 per cent) hold IP protection. That figure almost doubles among companies that do use UKTI support.

More than a third of firms (38 per cent) said exporting delivered a level of growth not otherwise possible.

New Markets, New Ideas also suggests that e-commerce and the internet is also driving and sustaining exporters. Companies that use e-commerce are 14 per cent more likely to export. Young firms are also quicker to take advantage of social media to reach clients and promote their products.

Firms with long-term ambitions to export still overwhelmingly use agents or distributors as part of their exporting strategy. Only 13 per cent of companies have their own distribution or sales office abroad compared to 42 per cent who use sales agents or distributors.

UKTI acting chief executive Susan Haird said: "This report shows just how companies of all sizes go about exporting and provides evidence that companies are thinking about business abroad earlier in their lives.

"Exporting not only increases companies' profits but also helps a company develop new products and services that can be sold in many different markets abroad.

"I hope this report gives impetus to other firms' thoughts of trading abroad."

Miles Templeman, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: "With an explosion in household expenditure in China and India forecast for the next twenty years, there are tremendous export opportunities for British firms of all sizes.

"We know that many IoD members are already active in high-growth markets in Asia and South America, but I urge those that are put off by the legal or cultural hurdles to turn to UKTI for support. With its specialist programmes and services, UKTI is well placed to help businesses overcome the common obstacles."

Notes to editors

  • UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the Government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK's economy - acknowledged as Europe's best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. Visit UKTI External Link for more information or telephone +44 (0)20 7215 8000.
  • For latest press releases, visit the online newsroom External Link. You can also keep in touch with developments at UKTI through the UKTI blog External Link, Twitter External Link and Flickr External Link.
  • For more information, or a copy of the report, please contact James Clements at UK Trade & Investment on 020 7215 2491
Date of release: 30 June 2011