Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) is collaborating with TWI Innovation Network – one of the world's largest, independent, not-for-profit, membership-based research and technology organisations – on the roll out of its Tees Valley Innovation Accelerator programme (TIA).

TIA offers detailed guidance and first hand expertise from a consortium of public and private sector organisations to work with SME businesses based on Teesside and help shape innovative ideas born out of the region into tangible products and services ready for commercialisation.

A series of informative sessions are being organised by TIA. WBD recently led a session on 15 December looking at how, and at what point after an idea's inception, businesses should protect its intellectual property (IP). The session was run in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Office, which is the official UK government body responsible for IP rights including patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

Led by WBD's partner and UK head of IP James Love, the session provided an overview of how IP lawyers can support SMEs through the various stages of the development of an idea and at what stage of the process SMEs would benefit from specialist advice.

James Love commented:

"During the five years prior to 2019, Tees Valley businesses only received £8.5m of funding for innovation projects. In contrast, businesses in the London region received £3.5bn. That is a shocking statistic, especially considering how many science and engineering businesses as well as national research centres are based in the region. This is why we are thrilled to be working with TIA on this exciting initiative to train and up-skill the next generation of industry experts, boost engineering advances in the region and put the spotlight on the hub of innovation that is the Tees Valley with its vibrant and pioneering business community."

As the largest law firm in the North East, WBD has deep roots in the region and its largest UK office of over 450 professionals is based in Newcastle. In addition to its Newcastle offices, WBD supports a range of businesses in Teesside from its office space in the Wilton Centre, the premier science park in the North East which is located in Teesside. The firm is committed to playing its part in the future prosperity of the North East and Cumbria by using its local, national and international reach and expertise to benefit the region's leading sectors, businesses, people and organisations.

The firm is a member of the Government's Northern Powerhouse Partnership Programme, demonstrating its commitment to promoting the strengths of the North, and actively collaborates with the North East Chamber of Commerce on a range of initiatives.

The event was very well received by those who attended and WBD urges all businesses in the North East who are at any stage of the development of an idea, to contact WBD to ensure they can maximise the commercial return on their idea. Following the session, WBD has already provided further support to help one of the attendees protect its latest innovation.