Innovate to Generate; JANE WATTERS, Business Services Manager at the Intellectual Assets Centre, Offers Practical Guidelines on How You Can Unleash the Hidden Value of Untapped Resources and Strengths within Your Organisation

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AS the business landscape renews itself in Scotland, companies face the perennial challenge of ensuring sustainable and profitable growth into the 21st century.

And as we move forward, the competitiveness of Scottish businesses will increasingly depend upon innovation and knowledge, regardless of sector.

If we are to help businesses flourish they must first realise the potential of their intellectual assets (patents, trademarks, know-how, business processes, relationships with customers and suppliers, brands etc).

Scottish businesses need the tools to be able to recognise these assets and how they can be protected or safeguarded.

Due to the lack of tangibility of these intellectual assets (IA), businesses struggle to know how to manage and exploit them.

Often they are overlooked as they are so central to an organisation's success. Accounting systems reinforce this as such assets are literally not accounted for.

But assessing where the real value in your business lies will help in identifying your key intellectual assets.

Depending on your organisation's business focus, there will be various options which can safeguard such assets.

Intellectual property (patents, design rights, copyright, registered trademarks etc) is well recognised and traded by businesses through controlling the rights.

But in all types of organisations, whether commercial, public or voluntary sector, intellectual assets are continually developed, and can be defined as anything which can be recorded and therefore owned by the organisation.

The management of intellectual assets shouldn't be a one-off, time-consuming exercise. There may be priority areas which can be addressed initially in a relatively straightforward manner.

For example, you may recognise some of your organisation's intellectual assets, and how they can be safeguarded, from this list:

Perhaps you rely heavily on key members of staff with areas of expertise which are difficult to source or replicate. …