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Dr. Nicola Searle

Innovation and Intellectual Property

Economics and Management

Cybersecurity and Creative Industries

Specialising in innovation, I investigate the economics and management of intellectual property and the digital economy.

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About Me

research and experience

As a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at Goldsmiths, University of London, I establish the impact of intellectual property on innovation. 

The body of my work is devoted to critiquing intellectual property and its role in economies, with a focus on policy and management implications. Areas of speciality include trade secrets and IP in: business models, the creative industries and cybersecurity. My work demonstrates the role of copyright in shoring up business models in the digital media industries, and the complex cybersecurity environment in which trade secrets and confidential data exist.

For 2023-2024, I hold a Thomas Edison Innovation and Law Policy Fellowship at George Mason University, U.S.A.. I am a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Innovation Management Research at Birkbeck, and Visiting Faculty at the University of Bologna, Italy. 

I dedicate a significant part of my work to supporting the research policy ecosystem. Since 2017, I have chaired several advisory boards and over £80M of funding panels. I currently serve as the acting Chair of the Digital Resilience & Security Advisory Board for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council at UK Research & Innovation. I regularly review domestic and international funding bids. I am on the board of the European Policy for Intellectual Property Association (EPIP) and the UK Intellectual Property Office's Research Expert Advisory Group.

I joined the Institute for Cultural & Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE) at Goldsmiths in 2015. From 2017 - 2022, I held a prestigious UK Research & Innovation Digital Economy Fellowship. Previously, I served as a government economist at the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) from 2013 to 2015, where I analysed patents, trade marks, designs, 3D printing, and copyright.  I have also held positions at the School of Informatics & Design at Abertay University and the University of St Andrews. Prior to my academic career, I was a financial associate at Goldman Sachs in the US and Italy.

I have authored two Oxford University Press manuscripts on intellectual property: Creating Economy, which combines sociology and economics to present a nuanced understanding the relationship between artists and their works; and Economic Approaches to Intellectual Property, which sets out and critiques the economic framing of Intellectual Property.  My research also appears extensively in academic journals and government reports.

  • PHD: Univ. of St Andrews
  • MSC: Univ. of St Andrews
  • BS: Georgetown University


Selected books, articles and reports


Townley, B., Roscoe, P. & N. Searle (2019) Creating Economy, Oxford University Press.

Searle, N. and M. Brassell (2016) Economic Approaches to Intellectual Property, Oxford University Press

Peer-reviewed articles and chapters 

Aplin, T., et al. (2023) "The Role of EU Trade Secrets Law in the Data Economy: An Empirical Analysis." IIC-International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law: 1-33.

Radauer, A., Searle, N., and M.A. Bader. (2023)  "The possibilities and limits of trade secrets to protect data shared between firms in agricultural and food sectors." World Patent Information 73: 102183.

Basuchoudhary, A. & N. Searle (2019) “Snatched Secrets: Reporting Trade Secrets Theft.” Computers and Security, 87(101591), ISSN 0167-4048.

Searle, N. (2019) “The Hard Sell: Economics and IP Policy,” in Waelde, C., & A. Brown, Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Creative Industries, Edward Elgar.

Searle, N. (2018) “Cultural Economics,” in Durrer, V., Miller, T. & D. O’Brien, Routledge Companion to Cultural Policy, Routledge

Reid, G., Searle, N., and S. Vishnubhakat (2015) “What's it worth to keep a secret? Intellectual property protection under the EEA” 13 Duke Law & Technology Review

Franklin, M., Searle, N., Stoyanova, D. and Townley, B. (2013) “Innovation in the Application of Digital Tools for Managing Uncertainty: The Case of UK Independent Film.” Creativity and Innovation Management, 22: 320–333. doi: 10.1111/caim.12029

N., and G. White, (2013) “Business Models for the Digital Creative Economy,” in Towse, R. & C. Handke, Handbook of the Digital Creative Economy, Edward Elgar (pp. 45-56)

White, G. and N. Searle, (2013) “Commercial business models for a fast changing industry,” in Hotho, S. & N.  MacGregor, Changing the Rules of the Game, Palgrave MacMillan (pp. 28-47)

Searle, N., (2012) “The Criminalization of the Theft of Trade Secrets: An Analysis of the Economic Espionage Act,” IP Theory, 2:2

Government reports

Radauer, A., Bader, M., Aplin, T., Konopka, U., Searle, N., Altenburger, R., & Bachner, C. (2022). "Study on the legal protection of trade secrets in the context of the data economy." European Commission, European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency

Searle, N. (2021) “The Economic and Innovation Impacts of Trade Secrets,” U.K. Intellectual  Property Office. Available at:

Searle, N., (2011) “Changing Business Models in the Creative Industries,” U.K. Intellectual Property Office available at 

Working papers

Searle, N. (2021) “Schrödinger’s IP: Disputed Trade Secrets and their Patents.” [accepted for the Summer 2021 Mannheim Virtual IO Seminar series]

Searle, N. (2020) “Business Models and Copyright Reform: The Legal Business Model.” Available at: [Under Review]

Searle, N. and A. Vivian (2021) “Surprisingly Small: The Effect of Trade Secret Breaches on Firm Performance”

Searle, N. and M. De Silva, (2021) “Trade secret misappropriation by employees: motivation, intentionality and techniques in the service sector"

Searle, N. (2017) “A Meta-analysis of Business Models,” CREATe Series, available at: 


Advising, consulting and public engagement


academic research grants and honours
Thomas Edison Innovation Law and Policy Fellowship 2023-2024

Edison Fellow at the Center for Intellectual Property x Innovation Policy (C-IP2) at George Mason University to investigate the value of trade secrets. 

UK Government Early Career Fellowship 2017-22

UKRI Digital Economy Fellowship. £700k to research Economic Espionage and Cyber Crime: Evidence and Strategy.  

Research Grant, CPIP, George Mason University

Grant from the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property to analyse business models and copyright in the Creative Industries.

Research Grant, CREATe, University of Glasgow

Grant from the UK Copyright and
Creative Economy Centre
University of Glasgow to research business models and copyright in the Creative Industries.

Fellowship, UK Intellectual Property Office

UKRI funded Placement Fellowship, £40k to investigate Intellectual Property in business models.

Honorary Research Fellowship, School of Management, St Andrews

Institute for Capitalising on Creativity, Honorary Research Fellow

Horowitz Foundation Grant and The Martinus Nijhoff Special Award

Received both a Horowitz Foundation Grant and the Martinus Nijhoff Special Award for the Policy Implications of Science

Visiting Fellowship, Centre for Innovation Management Research

Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Innovation Management Research at Birkbeck.


intellectual property and the digital economy

Economies and markets have undergone vast changes since the advent of the internet. This new 'digital economy' offers opportunities for new products and services, but challenges existing businesses and practices. My work addresses the economic impact of these changes, and how we can harness the benefits of the digital economy.

My research falls under innovation studies, with a focus on intellectual property (IP). In particular, I have two strands of research: trade secrets, and the creative industries. Some example projects:

Trade secrets and cybersecurity - The digital economy has changed the environment in which trade secrets (e.g. industrial secrets, formulas etc) operate. Trade secrets are simultaneously more prevalent and more vulnerable to cybertheft. What does this mean for government IP policy? How should firms protect and use trade secrets?

Copyright, the Creative Industries and business models -  The digital economy introduced a vast new world of creating and distributing content for music, film & television, and computer games. New technologies also make it easier for consumers to access content without paying, known as copyright infringement ('piracy'.) Companies are now re-shaping their business models.  How does copyright function in business models? What do business models offer artists? 


Lecturing and Supervision
  • PhD Supervision

    From Community to Market: Institutionalizing Intellectual Property in the Commercialization of Traditional Chinese Crafts (with K. Meng)

    Creative innovation hubs and knowledge flows (with V. Alexander)

    The Application of Integrated Data Analytics in Risk Management of the Film Business: Cases Studies of China’s Internet-Based Film Business Models (with M. Franklin)

  • Postgraduate - Taught Courses

    Theories of Capital

    Critiquing the Cultural & Creative Industries through the lens of theories of capital including: social, political, economic, data and cultural capital

    Research Methods

    Equips students with advanced theoretical knowledge and practical skills essential for conducting comprehensive, ethical, and insightful research in the social sciences.

  • Postgraduate - dissertation supervision

    Supervising students on the Masters in Cultural & Creative Entrepreneurship, helping them bridge practical and academic aspects of their entrepreneurship 

  • Guest Lecturing

    Frequent guest lecturer at UK and international universities . Topics include: economics & management of intellectual property, trade secrets & cybersecurity, business models, cultural economics, copyright in business models


e-mail and social media

    Nicola Searle
    Intellectual Property and Innovation
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