A Good Way to spend St David's Day
Reproduced with permission of the author
Yesterday I attended the pitching event that I mentioned in "Pitch Perfect" - Funding Opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises in Northwest Wales 15 Feb 2019. It took place on St David's Day which coincided with the first anniversary of the opening of M-SParc (the Menai science park). For those who are not familiar with Anglesey, the park is located near Gaerwen, just to the north and west of the famous village with the 58 letter name. The park is open to the public during normal business hours and is worth visiting for the Tanio cafe alone.
The event took place in the science park's atrium. Though not all the seats were filled, the event was well attended. The audience was made up of competitors for the "Flash Pitch", "Student Pitch" and "Big Pitch" contests, business support professionals and members of the local community. There was a panel of judges with experience of promoting and fostering new businesses. Other members of the audience were encouraged to ask questions or communicate preferences through the Sli.do website though questions were allowed from folk like me who had left their mobile phones behind.
As most residents of Anglesey speak Welsh, the event and the individual pitches were introduced in what the chair called "the language of Heaven". However, most of the pitches were made in English, questions were invited in either language and simultaneous translation was available through headphones for those who needed it.
The event began with "Flash Pitches", that is to say, 3-minute presentations for a share of a £1,000 fund for non-student entrepreneurs, The winner was Elen Bonner who runs a handmade wedding gift service called Nythu. There were however some impressive runners up including a delicious energy drink and a plan to transform a supermarket into a roller skating rink and introduce all sorts of new roller skating sports and activities into North Wales.
The winner of the "Student Pitch" was the mother of a child with communication difficulties. She had designed a cushion for him with multiple coloured flaps. When he wants to show his mood he selects a flap. A red flap with an angry face indicated anger. Other flaps indicated confusion, contentedness and so on. Someone in the audience asked, "What sort of IP protection do you have?" The contender replied that she had none and that anyone could copy it. Springing to my feet I pointed out she probably had design right, an unregistered Community design and artistic copyright already, that she might be able to register a design and that it could even have been a patentable invention had she kept it under wraps. I also advised her to register the name of her business and perhaps her product as a trade mark.
There were some impressive runners up such as a language teaching website which mimicked human learning rather than class-based learning and a gift card scheme for the homeless to ensure that they received necessaries like food rather than drugs or alcohol which might add to their problems. Some of the Student and Flash Pitch presenters had technical difficulties that prevented animations from running and others were less than clear as to selling points or origins of revenue, but all were credible and commercial.
After the Flash and Student Pitches, the Cafe Tanio served us a dish of curry, rice and papadum followed by Welsh cakes and bara brith with soft drinks, tea or coffee. The catering at the Tanio is of a very high standard. It is certainly vaut un détour if not une visiste for anyone heading to or from the beaches, mountains or Holyhead ferry.
The heavy pitching took place after dinner and there were three impressive candidates:
- Explorage, an online self-storage booking service;
- Re-Mind Wales, an ingenious device that helps dementia sufferers to rehydrate regularly; and
- North Wales Tech, a collaboration platform for entrepreneurs and techies throughout the region.
All deserved encouragement but I particularly liked North Wales Tech because it built on the advantages that I identified in Anglesey and the Fourth Industrial Revolution 12 Oct 2018 IP Northwest and should be added to the resources that I mentioned in Resources for Inventors and other Startups in Northwest Wales 5 Feb 2019 NIPC Inventors Club.
I was consulted on trade mark issues by several of the candidates and my card was requested by several members of the audience including a local commercial solicitor. All of the businesses that pitched last night have valuable intellectual assets that require legal protection and the correct advice could add to their revenues in the form of royalties and licence fees.
Should anyone wish to discuss this article or IP generally, he or she should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.