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24.10.05
Rapid Expansion For Patent Firm

A patent firm that moved from London to Cornwall in April has hit its annual expansion targets after just six months. Noel Akers said he chose to move to Cornwall to expand his business, NJ Akers & Co, partly because of the recent investment in the region's economy including the roll out of high speed broadband coverage via the Objective One actnow scheme.

Mr Akers is one of Europe's leading practitioners of intellectual property (IP) law, representing clients in patent, trademark and design issues in both the UK and the EU. For a number of years he was a partner at one of the world's most respected international IP firms, acting for major companies in several different countries. He set up his own business in 2004.

As part of the expansion and move he employed Christian Ziar under the Unlocking Cornish Potential scheme – a project that has received Objective One investment and places graduates with businesses. The graduate's wages are subsidised for the length of the project (between 6-12 months) and an expert business or academic mentor is also provided to support and help guide the graduate.

Based in converted farm buildings at Cubert, near Newquay, the company has already doubled the number of clients, a target that Mr Akers said he had set to achieve by March 2006.

"When the company decided to move I sat down and decided we didn't need to be in the South East any more," said Mr Akers, a European and Chartered Patent Attorney. "The knowledge economy in Cornwall has grown at a tremendous pace. However, none of the emerging businesses had access to local patent and trade mark experts. This made a move to Cornwall very attractive. The main thing we did need was broadband and once I discovered Cornwall had that I looked at the lifestyle issue and the whole decision became a bit of a no brainer – it all fitted into place. With Christian we have doubled our client list and are now looking at taking on support staff because we are growing at such a speed."

The company, which specialises in patents, trade marks and designs for new technology and innovations, is now busy expanding its Cornwall client base as well as working with existing clients from North America. Mr Akers has made links with businesses connected to the Combined Universities in Cornwall and with the health-related businesses in incubation units at the Knowledge Spa. He has also been offering free consultations to businesses just starting up.

"I would far rather advise new ventures now, with no obligation for them to become a client of ours, than two years down the line find they have shot themselves in the foot with IP rights and are struggling."

Mr Ziar, who was born in Penzance, went to school and college in Truro then moved to East Anglia to study law. He said: "I worked in East Anglia for about two years after graduating. I was really looking to come back to Cornwall but I said to myself I wouldn't return until there was a job I was interested in and wanted to pursue."

Louise Oldham, Unlocking Cornish Potential, Project Officer; said: "Now that we have been operating for over 18 months (with Cornwall College and the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC)) we have had a substantial number of projects reach completion. It has been very encouraging to be able to capture the impact of the graduate's project on their development and the fantastic results for their UCP company. Achievements have been really amazing!"

NJ Akers & Co is also one of only 12 firms in the UK to be approved as advisers for a brand new government programme aimed at increasing recycling.

WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) is a major government scheme established to promote sustainable waste management by tackling the barriers to waste minimisation and increased recycling. WRAP is a not-for-profit private sector company working with the public, private, and community sectors, supported by funding from DEFRA and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

WRAP has launched the new scheme to support the Intellectual Property rights of recycling companies. Designed to help small to medium enterprises (SMEs) within the UK recycling sector that recycle one or more of the materials within WRAP's remit (currently glass, paper, plastic, organics, wood, aggregates, batteries, gypsum board and tyres) identify, register and protect their IP rights.

Mr Akers said: "The scheme pays us to provide companies with initial advice and consultation on IP matters. There are a number of companies based in Cornwall that could really benefit from the WRAP scheme."

For further information please contact Clare Morgan of the Objective One Communications Team on 01872 223439 or 07973 813647 or email: cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One programme has invested in the Unlocking Cornish Potential project through the European Social Fund (ESF).

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Editor's notes:

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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