A reciprocal relationship has been documented between registering formal intellectual property rights (IPR), obtaining public grants, and undertaking publicly subsidised R&D innovation projects. Focusing on SMEs as key beneficiaries of such grants, this paper provides an original conceptual framework to rationalise this relationship based on the core criteria to obtain and successfully exploit both grants and formal IPR. R&D innovation grants from several European countries display common elements conducive to securing formal IPR status. Novel observations of several European SMEs demonstrate an innovation engine cycling between formal IPR management and publicly subsidised R&D innovation, sometimes for multiple cycles over several years. This was seen for varying grant sizes, technological sectors, and geographical locations. The framework and observations presented herein are of potential interest to research-intensive SMEs, public grant bodies, and professional service providers for public subsidies and IPR management.
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