Adamson Jones was able to obtain patent protection for AxoMap in just 15 months from the moment the Green Channel was used. This acceleration is important as IP is key to securing funding and investment for the technology.
About LLEO Ltd
LLEO Ltd was established in 2011-12 after receiving funding from the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop crop surveying drones. Founder & managing director, Keith Geary, created the concept of Low Level Earth Observation, which uses electrically powered micro drones to survey large areas. For agricultural applications, the drones can be equipped with different cameras to produce hundreds of images that are then placed together to produce a web map tiled picture of an entire field. Images can be taken from when plants emerge to when they are harvested. For instance, it can provide accurate information that helps farmers plan for nutrition, irrigation, yield forecasting, pest infestation and harvest scheduling.
The Green Channel
The Green Channel for patent applications is available to UK and overseas applicants for inventions that have an environmental benefit. The AxoMap patent relates to a new technique that enables the grading of crops before harvesting. This technique uses high resolution imagery collected by drones to map and monitor crops, such as potato crops, from emergence through to senescence (biological deterioration).
Adamson Jones was able to show that the use of AxoMap technology would help reduce crop wastage as well as reduce the amount of chemicals used to suppress growth and sprouting in storage. The patent was granted in February 2019, taking 18 months in total and just 15 months from requesting use of the Green Channel. A standard patent application can take as long as 8 years.
Using IP to raise funds
Intellectual property has been key for LLEO when approaching potential investors for venture capital and applying for grants in relation to AxoMap. Thanks to using the Green Channel to accelerate the UK patent application, the technology LLEO is pitching to potential investors already has a granted patent, which is much more powerful than a patent-pending application. In addition, the Green Channel can be used at any point in the patent application process regardless of whether an application has already been filed or not and any stage of the application process can be accelerated. This was useful as it meant the initial searches for AxoMap were completed quickly, and all stages of the application process could be accelerated. This allowed frequent reports to be made to shareholders, and regular updates could be provided to the project monitoring officer at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), a statutory levy board, funded by farmers,
growers and others in the supply chain.
The team at Adamson Jones has worked closely with LLEO to pursue and obtain patent protection for the AxoMap concept, demonstrating our knowledge and expertise in the patent process to bring the timescales associated with the UK patent system into line with the timescales required to achieve the business goals of LLEO.
LLEO Limited obtained funding in 2018 via a grant from Innovate UK to form a partnership with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Crop Storage and Research centre at Sutton Bridge, receiving 100% funding in order to conduct field trials and periodical assessments of the harvested potato tubers during storage to validate the AxoMap concept. The total value of the grant award was £65,000 with £43,000 being allocated to LLEO Limited.