Musings on Jetco 10-11th Feb 2016

We were very grateful that the British Ambassador to Azerbaijan and Jacqui Mullen the UKTI Head of Commercial & Energy Section, British Embassy, Baku arranged for us to attend the full range of events at the recent Jetco meeting between the UK and Azerbaijan. This gave us an opportunity to continue to dissemminate our findings in our recent report into the potential for IP commercialisation in Azerbaijan.

During the event, my colleagues and I were introduced to the deputies and Ministers of Education and Economy and had the pleasure of meeting the incoming UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan Dr. Carole Crofts who takes up her position in May.

The events were well attended with Ambassadors to both countries and the out-going trade and investment minister, to name a few. Other notable attendees included Kamran Agasi of Director of Innovations Centre, State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Azer Mursagulov the deputy director of the Ministry of Finance, Rovshan Najaf of AIC, Vanessa Raine of UEI, LaLa Huseynbeyova of the Bank of Azerbaijan and attendees from SCIP and azpromo.

During a number of open forums (including the UK-Azerbaijan Joint Inter-Governmental Commission (JIC) ministerial meeting) TransTech’s partners raised the question from the floor to various distinguished panels:

"Why has Azerbaijan not been considered eligible as a Partner country to the UK’s Newton Fund? "

This seems odd, not least when one considers that countries such as Kazakhstan and Turkey are partner countries.

Mahmut Sinoplu, a colleague at TransTech is quoted by the British Council in its Report on the Higher Education Forum as saying TransTech noted "a strong interest in the high potential of intellectual property from Azerbaijan, which is often undocumented or disregarded, and encouraged the extension of the Newton Fund to cover Azerbaijan, which has very strong expertise in extractive industries-linked research."

The Newton Fund, whose moto is "building science and innovation capacity in developing countries" is part of the UK’s official development assistance. Its aim is to develop science and innovation partnerships that promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. The fund is £75 million each year from 2014 for 5 years.

Until the publication of TransTech’s research into the potential for Azerbaijan to generate GDP growth through its science and engineering academic infrastructure, practically no one outside Azerbaijan knew this extensive and potentially valuable state asset even existed. In its report, TransTech noted Azerbaijan’s large science and engineering research infrastructure with the potential to generate significant wealth for Azerbaijan through the commercialisation of its innovative capacity and the Country’s need for support in implementing the necessary innovation systems, procedures and expertise.

TransTech believes that the Newton Fund is ideally placed to participate in this process.

About the Author

Simon has spent the past 20 years helping to raise the necessary funds for researchers to commercialise their raw research. He has raised +$300million to-date for 46 technology businesses at all stages of their development from start-up to fully commercial.

He has strong views on the processes that must be undertaken both before IP is spun-out of a university and after to ensure it is capable of commercialisation and exit.