Market research and protection of IP for the Marine Autonomous Plankton Sampler

Department Name: Science and Technology


The NOC has engaged with the preferred provider patent attorney, Barker Brettel (See Letter of Support). The NOC will work with the attorney to draft the patent. This will require the developers of the MAPS technology (Dr Julie Robidart) and the NOC enterprise (Dr Paul Wilkinson) to provide instructions to Barker Brettel through phone calls as face-to-face meeting, review of the patent draft and finalisation of the filing.

The NOC will produce a research brief that details a market assessment. This will focus on the applications of the MAPS system to aquaculture and environmental monitoring markets. It will provide information on:
1. End-users in these markets
2. Providers of microbiology sensing technologies to these markets
3. The size of the market; the monetary value of sensors and services provided into these markets.
The NOC will tender three research proposals from expert market research companies. The NOC will evaluate these proposals for their suitability of the proposed research method (e.g. desk based, phone interview), ability to meet the research brief, and value for money. The NOC is in discussions with PWC, DJS and Frazer Nash as potential providers of this market assessment. If successful, this proposed market assessment with will be grouped with other successful applications to leverage economies of scale and secure the best value for money.
Once the patent is filed, the NOC will work with the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), and the Environment Agency (EA), in addition to any stakeholder or end user identified by the market analysis, to further understand their technology requirements and the potential market for MAPS application for routine environmental monitoring.

Planned Impact

The MAPS technology is currently protected by unregistered IP rights in design, copyright, knowhow. Registered IP rights, such as a patent, increases commercial value by providing addition security through generating a precise definition of a technology and exclusive rights to manage the exploitation of it. The patent filing produced from this work will thus increase the technologies value, making it more attractive to parties interested in its commercial adoption. The rights and burdens transferred to an exploiting party through a patent licence will be closely considered and negotiated.
In addition to increased technology value, a patent provides further freedom to promote the MAPS technology to both the scientific and commercial community. The few disclosures of the technology (as protected by direct NDAs) has gathered interest from marine institutes and monitoring programmes, CEFAS and DSTL/MOD. To expand on this interest, from these and other stakeholders, and to solicit further feedback a patent filing is required. A patent filing will allow the NOC to more openly and widely disclose the technological capability of the MAPS, through presentation, scientific publication, and open engagement without fear of replication.
In-depth understanding of markets will enable the development team to technologically refine MAPS further to produce a fit for purpose technology that has application in a range of sectors. This greater understanding of the market demand, size, and problems that will result from the market analysis provided. In addition, by identifying key stakeholders, as identified in the market assessment and by increased promotion facilitated by a patent, barriers to entry into these markets will be identified and understood.
As well as economic impact, broad uptake of MAPS technology can benefit fisheries (by high-resolution monitoring and early warning for harmful organisms), human health (by decreasing illness associated with shellfish), environmental quality (by identification of pollution point sources, enabling the creation of solutions), conservation (through the sensitive monitoring of invasive and endangered species), and increase efficiencies in governmental organisations through aquatic forensics and autonomous field studies.

How it will inform understanding
The patent filing and subsequent market research will provide timely market information that allow the evaluation of the commercial opportunities for the MAPS technology.
The market analysis will produce a bottom up analysis of the market for automated water filtration technologies. This type of analysis will provide an indication of market size and growth rate; market demand and adoption rate; the number of facilities/programmes that require this type of technology; and, provide a list of addressable target companies and organisations. This information, in addition to further stakeholder and end-user engagement, will identify the favourable sectors that would benefit from the MAPS technology, allowing for a more focused and directed product development and commercialisation programme. Following securing a priority date with patent filing the MAPS technology can be more widely promoted to stakeholders identified by the market assessment.

How it will shape the development program and innovation
The MAPS technology is at TRL 6, having been demonstrated in the environment. To continue its development onto a commercially viable product MAPS requires further productisation and usability improvements to streamline for large-scale manufacture and to make the technology more applicable to specific market use. We will solicit feedback from end users and stakeholders. This will provide input in the research direction of the MAPS technology to ensure the value proposition of the technology is aligned with both commercial and scientific applications. It is expected that the technology will be licenced to a provider of water analysis services.


10 25 50
Description We have a draft patent application.

We have found a large potential market in waste water epidemiology (which has expanded because of COVID - "Novel outcomes" referred to in the COVID impacts section), and a smaller market in oceanography.
Exploitation Route We're currently developing a market strategy. We're determining whether we can license the patents to industries.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment,Healthcare