Britain has been left behind by competitors in Europe and the US when it comes to protecting innovations.
Harry Hutchinson, from patent specialist HGF, told the Global Manufacturing Festival Convention a medium sized firm in the Netherlands and Sweden was four times more likely to make a patent application than a British firm.
A German or a US company was two-and-a-half times more likely. Overall, German companies were filing five times as many patent applications as British companies, said Mr Hutchinson, adding that the global IP trade was worth £600 billion a year.
Dr Edward Draper, from orthopaedic implant maker JRI, told the Convention Sheffield’s history of invention and high value manufacturing, combined with its deep understanding of technology and links with academia made it an idea place for innovative, small businesses to thrive.