Intellectual Assets and Innovation

The SME Dimension

image of Intellectual Assets and Innovation

Intellectual Property Rights can be instrumental for SMEs to protect and build on their innovations; position themselves competitively vis-à-vis larger enterprises in global markets; gain access to revenues; signal current and prospective value to investors, competitors and partners; access knowledge markets and networks; open up new commercial pathways; or segment existing markets.  However, while there is increasing recognition of their significance, as well as  the need for appropriate intellectual asset management for SMEs across OECD countries, there are few regulatory frameworks or specific instruments directed to SMEs. This is in part due the pace of technological innovation, which often exceeds the time it takes for policy makers to create appropriate responses to the changing landscape of intellectual property.   This study explores the relations between SME intellectual asset management, innovation and competitiveness in different national and sectoral contexts. It provides insights on the ability of SMEs to access and utilise the protection systems available to them and identifies key challenges for SMEs in appropriating full value from IPRs. It also investigates effectiveness of regulatory frameworks and policy measures to support SME access to IPRs, identifying best practices and proposing policy recommendations




Investment in intellectual assets is growing rapidly in the global economy, as firms, industries and national economies develop new modes of innovation and search for new sources of growth. The management of intellectual assets is critical for turning the innovation potential of firms into a real engine for growth and job creation. Channelling new ideas and creativity into competitiveness is a challenge, in particular for new businesses and small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), which rely strongly on the exploitation of intellectual capital in their business models. However innovative SMEs develop strategies to manage their intangible assets, including access to Intellectual Property (IP) systems, to a much smaller extent than large firms. This is a critical concern for policy makers responsible for strengthening SMEs’ contribution to high-wage employment creation and economic growth. In order to develop appropriate policy responses, there must be greater knowledge of SME practices to manage intellectual assets in a rapidly changing market and technological environment. Improved understanding of the impact of IP regulation is also needed.


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