Dr Nicola Searle

Staff details

Position Digital Economy Fellow
Email n.searle (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 717 3210
Dr Nicola Searle

Dr. Nicola Searle is Senior Lecturer at ICCE. An economist and management scholar who specialises in innovation, intellectual property and the digital economy, Nicola joined ICCE in 2015. She has two key research lines: the first examines innovation in the creative industries through the lens of copyright and business models in digital media. The second investigates trade secrets, knowledge flows and innovation.

Dr. Searle is Chair of the EPSRC Digital Security and Resilience Advisory Board, a member of the UK Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) Research Experts Advisory Group, and Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Innovation Management Research, Birkbeck, University of London. Dr. Searle has been awarded two prestigious Fellowships: a Thomas Edison Innovation Policy Fellowship at the Center for Intellectual Policy and Innovation Policy at George Mason University, USA and a UKRI Digital Economy Early Career Fellowship.

Academic qualifications

  • PhD in Economics, University of St Andrews 2010
  • MSc in International Strategy and Economics, University of St Andrews 2006
  • BSFS in International Economics, Georgetown University (U.S.A.) 2000

Teaching and Supervision

Dr. Searle teaches on the MACCE degree, where she runs the Theories of Capital course and supervises students and dissertations throughout the year.

She also supervises PhD research.

Research interests

Dr. Searle’s primary area of interest is the economics and management of Intellectual Property, with focuses on the Digital Economy and the Creative Industries. In this, she researches the economics of trade secrets and economic espionage, and business models, IP & digital media.

As of 2023, Nicola is a Thomas Edison Innovation Policy Fellow at the Center for Intellectual Policy and Innovation Policy at George Mason University. Her project seeks to understand the value of trade secrets and their context in the innovation landscape.

From 2017 - 2022, Dr. Searle held an EPSRC Digital Economy Fellowship (grant EP/P005039/1.) Her fellowship, entitled “Economic Espionage and Cybercrime: Evidence and Strategy,” looks at the increasing importance of trade secrets in the digital world, and the emerging threats of the theft of trade secrets and economic espionage through cybercrime.

Dr. Searle was an economist at the IPO from 2013 to 2015, where she covered the economic analysis of trademarks, designs, 3D printing, and aspects of copyright. Prior to her role at the IPO, Nicola was the lead Associate on the Moving Targets project at the School of Arts, Media & Computer Games at Abertay University from 2010-2012. Moving Targets, supported by the Scottish Funding Council, with Edinburgh College of Art and the Universities of Edinburgh and Abertay, focused on new models for digital media. Nicola also served as Academic Supervisor for two Knowledge Transfer Projects (KTP) with the Institute for Capitalising on Creativity (ICC, St Andrews) and Creative Scotland on the film industry and use of IP by Scottish creative businesses. Dr. Searle was a member of the IP blog, the IPKat, for five year. In 2010-2011, Nicola was an AHRC/ESRC placement fellow at the IPO where she designed and ran a research project on Changing Business Models in the Creative Industries.

Publications and research outputs


Tonwley, Barbara; Roscoe, Philip and Searle, Nicola. 2019. Creating Economy: Enterprise, Intellectual Property and the Valuation of Goods. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198795285

Searle, Nicola and Brassell, Martin. 2016. Economic Approaches to Intellectual Property. Cambridge: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198736264

Book Section

Searle, Nicola. 2018. The hard sell: economics and intellectual property policy in the creative and cultural industries. In: Abbe Brown and Charlotte Waelde, eds. Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Creative Industries. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, pp. 351-358. ISBN 9781786431172

Searle, Nicola. 2017. Cultural economics, innovation and intellectual property. In: Victoria Durrer; Toby Miller and David O'Brien, eds. The Routledge Handbook of Global Cultural Policy. Oxon: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781138857827

Searle, Nicola and White, Gregor. 2013. Chapter 5: Business models. In: Ruth Towse and Christian Handke, eds. Handbook on the Digital Creative Economy. Gloucestershire: Edward Elgar, pp. 45-56. ISBN 978 1 78100 487 6

White, Gregor and Searle, Nicola. 2013. Commercial business models for a fast changing industry. In: Sabine Hotho and Neil McGregor, eds. Changing the Rules of the Game. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 28-47. ISBN 978-1-349-33819-1


Radauer, Alfred; Searle, Nicola and Bader, Martin A.. 2023. The possibilities and limits of trade secrets to protect data shared between firms in agricultural and food sectors. World Patent Information, 73, 102183. ISSN 0172-2190

Basuchoudhary, Atin and Searle, Nicola. 2019. Snatched secrets: Cybercrime and trade secrets modelling a firm's decision to report a theft of trade secrets. Computers & Security, 87, 101591. ISSN 0167-4048

Reid, Gavin C; Searle, Nicola and Vishnubhakat, Saurabh. 2015. What's It Worth to Keep a Secret. Duke Law & Technology Review, 13(1), pp. 116-161. ISSN 2328-9600

Franklin, Michael; Searle, Nicola; Stoyanova, Dimitrinka and Townley, Barbara. 2013. Innovation in the Application of Digital Tools for Managing Uncertainty: The Case of UK Independent Film. Creativity and Innovation Management, 22(3), pp. 320-333. ISSN 0963-1690

Searle, Nicola. 2012. The Criminalization of the Theft of Trade Secrets: An Analysis of the Economic Espionage Act. IP Theory, 2(2), pp. 33-51.

Conference or Workshop Item

Searle, Nicola and Choudhary, Atin Basu. 2017. 'Snatched Secrets: Reporting Trade Secrets Theft Modelling a firm’s decision to report a theft of trade secrets'. In: European Association of Law & Economics (EALE) 34th annual conference. University of Liverpool London, United Kingdom 14 - 16 September, 2017.


Radauer, Alfred; Bader, Martin; Aplin, Tanya; Konopka, Ute; Searle, Nicola; Altenburger, Reinhard and Bachner, Christine. 2022. Study on the legal protection of trade secrets in the context of the data economy : final report. Project Report. European Commission, European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency, Brussels/Luxembourg.

Searle, Nicola. 2021. The Economic and Innovation Impacts of Trade Secrets. Technical Report. UK IPO, London.

Searle, Nicola. 2017. Business Models, Intellectual Property and the Creative Industries: A Meta-analysis. Working Paper. CREATe.

Searle, Nicola. 2011. Changing Business Models in the Creative Industries: The cases of Televison, Computer Games and Music Executive Summary. Other. UK Intellectual Property Office, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/310293/ipresearch-creativeind-full-201110.pdf.


Searle, Nicola. 2010. The economics of trade secrets : evidence from the Economic Espionage Act. Doctoral thesis, University of St. Andrews

Further profile content

Media engagements

2022: Article for The Times Higher Education
Following my presentation of oral evidence to House of Lords’ Communications & Digital Select Committee, I authored this reflection on the process and how academics can maximise their impact.

2022: Speaker at the Microsoft Intelligence Summit
Broadcast to thousands of people worldwide, I served as an expert speaker at the Intelligence Summit on cybersecurity and trade secrets.

Conferences and talks

2022: Witness to the House of Lords’ Communications and Digital Select Committee
Served as expert witness to inform the Inquiry into the Creative Industries

Grants and awards

2017: EPSRC Digital Economy Fellowship
Economic Espionage and Cyber Crime: Evidence and Strategy: Four-year fellowship to investigate cybercrime with a focus on economic espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

2017: CREATe Grant
Meta-Analysis of CREATe Business Models

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