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 an EPSRC Digital Economy Fellow and Senior Lecturer at ICCE. An economist who specialises in the economics of intellectual property and the creative industries, Nicola joined ICCE in 2015. Dr. Searle is a member of the RCUK Digital Economy Programme Advisory Board, a member of the UK Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) Research Experts Advisory Group and an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Management, University of St Andrews.

Since 2017, Dr. Searle holds 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.  Over four years, Nicola and her team will be developing and analysing a database of trade secrets thefts and economic espionage to provide insights into the use of trade secrets, their role in the economy and the cyber security implications.

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. 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.

From 2006-2010 Nicola was a doctoral candidate, tutor and lecturer at the School of Economics & Finance, University of St Andrews. During this period she also worked as research assistant at the School of Arts, Media & Computer Games at Abertay. There, she developed the School’s industry engagement strategy, and ran a research project assessing the computer games development industry's demand for graduate skills. In addition, she ran a social photography studio in St Andrews. Before her academic career, Nicola was an associate at Goldman Sachs in the US and Italy for four years.

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


Dr. Searle is currently on research leave from her teaching on the MACCE program.


Dr. Searle’s primary area of interest is the economics 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.  

External activities

Dr. Searle is the economics blogger for the UK-based IP blog, The IPKat. There she regularly blogs on topics concerning economics, policy, innovation and IP.

Nicola regularly interacts with governments and policy bodies.  She has written reports for the UK IPO and frequently engages with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) where she has participated in workshops in Geneva, The Gambia, Malawi, Rwanda and Senegal.

Selected Publications 


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

Peer-reviewed Articles

Reid, G., Searle, N., and S. Vishnubhakat (2014) “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

Searle, N., (2012) “The Criminalization of the Theft of Trade Secrets: An Analysis of the Economic Espionage Act,” IP Theory, 2:2, Available at www.repository.law.indiana.edu/ipt/vol2/iss2/2

Book chapters

Searle, N. (forthcoming 2017) “The Hard Sell: Economics and IP Policy,” in Waelde, C., & A. Brown, Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Creative Industries, Edward Elgar.

Searle, N. (forthcoming 2017) “Cultural Economics,” in Durrer, V., Miller, T. & D. O’Brien, Routledge Companion to Cultural Policy, Routledge

Searle, 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 

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

Government reports

Searle, N., (2011) “Changing Business Models in the Creative Industries,” U.K. Intellectual Property Office available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/changing-business-models-in-the-creative-industries



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


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

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.


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