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Patent advice on campus in Groningen

Would you like to quickly ask a patent attorney from V.O. about the possibilities for a patent application? You can do this on more and more campuses and knowledge institutions through the V.O. initiative “Meet the Expert”. Here you can find patent attorneys who are ready to answer your questions. In Groningen too.

Employment opportunities on the Zernike Campus in Groningen are growing more rapidly than anywhere else in the Netherlands. Hanze University of Applied Sciences is among the world’s top 5 for startups. These are just two facts which show that innovation and entrepreneurship are thriving in Groningen.

Patent attorney Annemiek Tepper from V.O. has recently been attending the campus one afternoon per week. ‘We attend here and at a number of other locations in the Netherlands and Belgium (see box below for the other location, ed.). We go there at a set time during the week and researchers or entrepreneurs are free to drop in without any commitments. This makes personal contact much easier and allows us to get involved incredibly quickly. Inventors often hear the same thing from investors: “You might be unique now, but will you stay that way?” Investors want certainty, and a patent makes you a little more solid. That raises awareness of patents among inventors.’

Annemieke Galema (Northern Knowledge) and Annemiek Tepper (V.O.)

Community and innovation

There is a strong community feeling on the Zernike Campus. Tepper: ‘Here I notice a combination of that typical Groningen common sense and a ‘let’s all pull together’ attitude. As I am here regularly, I am also becoming a real part of this community. Of course it helps that my roots are on the campus’ (Tepper studied Chemistry at the University of Groningen, ed.) Northern Knowledge is the new centre for the valorisation of knowledge for the University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen and Hanze University of Applied Sciences and it is located on the Zernike Campus. Annemieke Galema is the director of the centre: ‘I think it’s an incredible initiative. I was also enthusiastic right away when V.O. started this. We have already worked with each other a lot over many years. It’s important that they really have specialist in-house knowledge in fields such as chemistry, engineering and nutrition.’

Sustainability, nutrition and energy

There is a clear focus in Groningen. The innovations here mainly focus on sustainability, nutrition and the energy transition. Tepper: ‘For instance, Avebe has just opened an innovation centre on the campus where space was also created for startups in the agri-food sector. Incidentally, I’m not only there for startups, but for any company that has questions about intellectual property. We have traditionally had good contacts with the university’s technology transfer team (TTO).

Brainstorming together

The Nobel Prize winner Ben Feringa is of course a well-known researcher in Groningen. A researcher from his department was one of the first people to visit Annemiek Tepper with a question, through the Northern Knowledge IP and Business Development Team: ‘We talked at length with the TTO team and the inventor about the chemical details of the invention in the field of anti-cancer medicine. After this discussion, I gave my favourable opinion on the patentability of the invention. The inventor then visited again so we could come up with a number of chemical structures for the patent application. In these situations you really are working in the client’s environment. Alongside this, a manuscript was submitted on this subject to a scientific journal. The article seemed to have been prepared for publication unexpectedly quickly. I had to rapidly draft a patent application and then the article could be published. This is a clear example of what short lines of communication and rapid engagement can deliver.”


For Galema from Northern Knowledge, proximity is extremely valuable: ‘It’s all about having confidence in inventions. In this case, it’s important that V.O can push ahead immediately during consultations and that you can directly discuss with each other about whether an invention is actually unique and should be patented. It’s a simple consultation structure that works. The initiative will be discussed during the period ahead and naturally we will also actively promote it internally. When is it a success? We expect rising numbers of patent applications. Of course, this does not tell the whole story, but it is a good indication about whether our collaboration actually works. I am convinced that these patent applications will ensure for yet more business and successful startups.’

Meet the Expert at four locations

In addition to Groningen, V.O. reaches out to clients at other locations. Discover Meet the Expert in:

Hasselt:          Corda Campus
Leiden:            Leiden Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Noordwijk:     Space Business Innovation Centre Noordwijk

Click here for more information.

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