IP valuation in IP-based financing

Monetary establishments use totally different approaches to IP valuation as a part of their financing course of. One of many threshold issues for lenders in evaluating whether or not and the way a lot to mortgage a borrower utilizing its IP as collateral is figuring out the scope and worth of the corporate’s IP portfolio. Not like stock and tools, the place established procedures can predict the worth of such property at the moment and sooner or later, the worth of an organization’s mental property property is taken into account to be way more speculative. 

“Maximizing Mental Property and Intangible Belongings” report (PDF) by the Athena Alliance, issued in 2009, offers context for monetary establishments’ approaches to IP and intangible asset-based financing. By highlighting successfully structured and accomplished Intangible Asset (IA) debt-and-equity preparations, the Report addressed the elemental difficulties in IA finance that face monetary corporations and firms alike. The survey discovered that probably the most main barrier to elevated curiosity and involvement in IA finance is the uncertainty round intangible asset valuation. 

Valuation performs a unique position in IP financing, primarily based on two issues: (1) Current and future money circulation for the aim of servicing the mortgage reimbursement plan; and (2) Worth to cowl the funding within the occasion of default. 

Some monetary quarters view the usage of sure types of IP as collateral to be problematic as a result of the monetary agency is finally involved with the revenue-generating potential of the asset on which the agency is basing its funding within the firm. Whether it is to be valued within the occasion of default, which is of paramount significance to the potential creditor, this income era should be capable of be achieved independently, even partially, from the corporate. 

It has been argued that for banks to lend positively and immediately in opposition to the worth of IP and intangibles in isolation (setting apart regulatory issues), it’s crucial for the financial institution to be assured that it could eliminate the IP individually from the enterprise if the necessity ought to come up, in a lot the identical method as it could anticipate to do with an merchandise of tangible property.

Limitations to IP-based financing for startups

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Regardless of its potential for innovation financing, IP-based finance is broadly believed to be underexploited, by younger startups that would want it most. Intangible property account for greater than half of the enterprise worth in most startups. Startups usually search exterior funding within the type of fairness financing, however this may also be difficult. There are extra ranges of uncertainty within the valuation of early-stage applied sciences.

In some instances, the extent of complementary property essential to generate earnings could also be unknown. The diploma of uncertainty within the growth trajectory influences the valuation strategy chosen, however it doesn’t invalidate the valuation course of solely. These issues are usually included into licensing negotiations and will be accounted for in a valuation. Nevertheless, the asset’s threat profile and the vary of possible outcomes needs to be mirrored within the valuation report.

For buyers, significantly enterprise angels and enterprise capitalists, the presence of IP acts as alerts on the standard of the corporate. The important thing distinction between debt and fairness financing is that fairness buyers put money into the whole firm fairly than simply the IP. Because of this, they usually assess the corporate’s anticipated profitability with out assigning a particular monetary valuation to the IP. As a result of the enterprise’s know-how is new and unproven, and the enterprise lacks a longtime market, IP valuation might not work for startups. A VC could also be extra curious about IP worth at exit, significantly if the purchaser is an organization.

In a analysis commissioned by the European Fee Skilled Group on Valuation, in figuring out vital variations within the strategy to lending to SMEs and start-ups in contrast with bigger corporates which have a robust buying and selling historical past, it was noticed that IP is usually evaluated and never formally valued within the common banking, VC, or Non-public Fairness sectors. Liens, warrants, and debentures on IP property, in addition to numbers regarding IP capitalized on the stability sheet, could also be examined – however solely as threat components, not as a part of a proper IP valuation. This reluctance within the IP valuation market could also be attributed to info asymmetry, regulatory lapses and market immaturity. 

Enterprise debt instead 

Picture by Iwaria by way of Iwaria.com

With the rising recognition of the worth of IP property, there are a number of segments of the regulated credit score market which have devoted themselves solely to serving startups and high-growth firms within the tech business. These segments are described as “outlier banks”.  Outlier banks, particularly, lend to early-stage and late-growth stage enterprises which have already obtained enterprise capital funding.

The lending selections made by the outlier banks are primarily based on the likelihood that the VC-backed firms will safe subsequent rounds of fairness cash from buyers. Such a financing, often known as enterprise debt, is a hybrid equity-and-debt financing construction that enables companies to borrow cash within the type of a mortgage whereas additionally providing warrants for fairness within the firm along with the mortgage curiosity. This association provides the mortgage issuer with a substantial upside as an incentive to lend to an in any other case dangerous enterprise.


Though established valuation strategies for IP exists in Nigeria, it has, nevertheless, not gained mainstream acceptance, and valuation continues to be principally seen throughout the context of tangible property. Nigerian banks should perceive that there’s a vital distinction within the strategy to lending to SMEs and start-ups when in comparison with bigger corporates with a robust buying and selling historical past. An answer is required to fund the commercialization of modern concepts utilizing the worth of the mental property asset as collateral. There’s a clear want to extend market actors’ confidence and certainty in IP valuation strategies with the intention to stimulate IP transactions, help IP-based financing, and supply firms with instruments to offer details about their mental property. 

There’s a must develop new monetary market segments devoted to the valuation, change, and financing of IPRs and different intangibles, by establishing the required pre-conditions and infrastructures for such markets to function effectively and successfully on a worldwide scale. 

  • Mosun is a consummate Lawyer with vast expertise in Company/Industrial, Mental Property and Competitors/Anti-trust regulation follow. Mosun is registered with the Securities and Alternate Fee as a capital market marketing consultant and in addition registered with the Monetary Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN).
    e: m.oke@topeadebayollp.com
    m: +234 706 365 4055

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