BT to incubate start ups with its patents

BT is looking to maximise the value of its technology with joint ventures to exploit its patents.

BT is looking to maximise the value of its technology with joint ventures to exploit its patents.

The first company, Truth, has already been launched and two more companies are due to be spun off before the year end. These companies are the result of cooperation between BT and venture capitalists such as 3i, working to market BT patents and knowledge. "My role is to take the technology we have here and find the un-met business needs for it," says Harry Berry, the executive in charge of the holding company Brightstar. Based at the BT research centre near Ipswich, formerly Martlesham but now renamed Adastral Park, the aim is to exploit some of the 14,000 patents awarded to BT. Eleven companies are currently in the incubation stage and Brightstar hopes to launch 15 companies a year. "We have very bright people and a lot of knowledge here," says Berry. "What we needed was outside capital and marketing skills to exploit these ideas." The first venture is telephone network modelling software, but Berry hopes that the tie with venture capitalists will find applications for ideas beyond the telecoms industry. The project has been underway since July and has been personally endorsed by BT's chief executive, Sir Peter Bonfield.