Last week, the European Patent Office (EPO), together with the International Energy Agency (IEA), released a detailed report on patenting activity in electricity storage between 2000 and 2018. An EPO press release is available on the EPO website along with the full report.
Automotive Round Table: The EV landscape promises a bright shiny future – but there will be bumps in the road?
The Automotive Group at Reddie & Grose recently held a virtual round-table with a select group of experts in the industry. We had representatives from an electric vehicle start-up, an energy services company, an automotive funding platform, an energy and sustainability strategy consultancy, the IMechE’s Powertrains and Fuels group, and a barrister who is a specialist in the law of Connected & Autonomous Vehicles.We set ourselves the ambitious agenda of discussing the likely key technologies to emerge in the next 10 years in powertrains, energy storage and delivery, autonomy, and sustainability, and whether there would be any legal challenges to overcome, IP or otherwise. With the long list of discussion topics in mind, we jumped off from the UK government’s proposal to end the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles by 2035, or even 2032. What would that mean for the industry, and would it be effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions? The conversation flowed from there …
On July 20th, 2020, Innovate UK opened a first phase of the Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (IETF), designed to help businesses with high energy use to cut their energy bills and carbon emissions through investing in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies. The IETF is managed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is a joint sponsor. This first phase consists of a funding competition offering a total share of up to £30 million, divided into two competition strands and open to any business registered, and planning to carry out the project work, in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. The project submission deadline for both strands is on October 28th, 2020. A second phase will launch in 2021 with up to £269 million of funding.
The UK government has announced a number of funding and support packages aimed at helping innovative firms through the Covid-19 pandemic. We have reported on a number of these schemes in recent weeks, including the recently announced Automotive Transformation Fund. A further recently announced fund is the Sustainable Innovation Fund, which is a fund of almost £200 million to help UK companies recover from the impact of Covid-19. The stated aim of the fund is to support “companies across all parts of the UK who need urgent financial support to keep their cutting-edge projects and ideas alive”.
The Automotive Transformation Fund – a new funding competition to move the automotive sector to zero emissions
Innovate UK – together with the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the Department for International Trade (DIT) – have opened a new funding competition: The Automotive Transformation Fund. This funding competition can be seen as part of the UK government’s broader Road to Zero Strategy which seeks to reduce vehicle emissions to zero by 2050, and, perhaps more ambitiously, aims for at least half of new cars to be “ultra-low emission” by 2030.
NASA is now asking the People of the World to take the cutting edge of toilets (forgive the phrase) one step further with their “Lunar Loo Challenge”, which launched last week. In doing so, NASA have offered a total of $35,000 in prize money for designs for a toilet that can work both in the microgravity of space as well as the low, but not insignificant, gravity of the lunar surface (which I’m sure you all know to be about a sixth of that on Earth).
For over 50 years the MacRobert Award has been recognising world-leading engineering innovations developed in the UK. Originally founded by the MacRobert Trust in 1969, the award has since become the UK’s longest-running and most coveted prize for UK engineering ingenuity. The annual award is now run by the Royal Academy of Engineering, and honours engineering achievements that demonstrate outstanding innovation, tangible societal benefit and proven commercial success. The list of past winners of the award serves as an impressive reminder of the wide-ranging capabilities of British engineers.
The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) has recently launched a new service, WIPO PROOF, which can be used to apply a secure timestamp to a digital file. This timestamp can be used to prove that the digital file existed at a particular date. IP assets are increasingly being generated digitally during the innovation life cycle. In some cases, digital assets cannot be protected through conventional registered IP rights such as patents. In other cases, it is desired to keep digital assets as trade secrets. These situations can cause problems in legal disputes when there is a disagreement about the date that a digital file was created.