Olswang launches equIP programme to support UK startup community

Olswang has joined the ranks of major law firms positioning themselves to attract and develop promising technology startups with a new free-to-join programme called equIP.

EquIP provides discounted and fixed-fee legal advice and support to UK tech scale-ups and entrepreneurs, with a focus on providing intellectual property (IP), corporate and commercial advice.

The new offering is targeted at experienced teams leading disruptive, IP-rich tech start-ups in need of guidance on building robust governance and compliance practices to ensure the success and longevity of their business.

Companies that qualify for the program should expect their next fund raising round to be between £500k and £5m.

In return they will be offered a dedicated relationship manager; invitations to exclusive events and training; promotion and marketing through Olswang’s channels; introductions to industry peers and service providers; and access to a network of fellow enterpreneurs.

One of EquIP’s first clients is e-billing company Apperio, which featured as a Legal IT Insider startup in December 2014. Apperio’s chief executive Nicholas d’Adhemar said: “We were delighted to have been accepted on to the equIP programme as it means we have confidence we are going to be in the best legal position possible going forward. There are a number of different elements that we need support on and the equIP programme really does cover them all. As an early stage company, having certainty over cost is really important for us, so the fixed price menu and discounted fees works for us. Finally, the real sell is the quality of advice that we have received and in particular the level of care. Despite being a small client, Olswang has gone above and beyond to help and advise us.” Apperio’s platform enables businesses to track legal spend in real time, manage law firm relationships and tender legal work.

Other equIP members include SQR Systems, a cybersecurity technology business for low bandwidth networks. Olswang partner and head of trade marks and equIP leader Sarah Wright commented: “equIP is so much more than just legal advice: it’s an investment of the firm in businesses that we truly believe in. Businesses on the equIP programme will benefit having us as trusted advisors, providing them with support and advice to help them to accelerate their commercial growth.”

The launch by Olswang follows the announcement in September that Cooley UK has launched Cooley GO, an online resource centre for startups and investors in the technology community.

Cooley GO, which was first unveiled in the US in July 2014, gives guidance on areas such as funding and expansion and gives users the ability to generate core legal documents.

Earlier this year, in May, Dentons announced that it was launching NextLaw Labs, to invest in and test new technology from around the world. NextLaw Labs is looking for startups but also venture capitalists and established vendors to bring to market new products and services that will help revolutionise the legal practise.

Olswang corporate partner and equIP leader Tony Waller said: “For early-stage businesses, legal advice can sometimes find itself at the bottom of the priority list, not least due to the costs associated with it. However, for a business to scale successfully, especially where investors are involved, being legally sound is imperative, and we look forward to supporting many of the UK’s best new businesses in the years to come.”