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About Us

Unleashing the strategic value of patents

Cipher’s mission is to enable patent owners to make rational decisions by providing strategic patent intelligence, powered by machine learning.

We are part of the community that promotes the importance of patents as strategic assets that deliver value to an organisation.  We provide Solutions to the strategic challenges facing patent owners.

Recent highlights

From reports to case studies to podcasts, we’re regularly offering industry insights and providing quality content for IP and patent professionals.

Oil and Gas Supermajors – Energy Transition

Our updated report finds that supermajors’ technology innovation is more evident in the Materials, Mechanical, and Sensors & Optics categories.
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Understanding Patent Value

Episode 10 in Season 2 features Jay Yonamine, Product Manager, GEO, Google, who shared with us his perspective on patent value, his thoughts on existing valuation methods and what the future could look like, given the possibilities and limitations of ML and AI.
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Sustainability and detergents: environmentally friendly innovation

Our report on patent owners in the Sustainable Detergents space identifies the firms producing new formulations and the countries leading innovation.
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Inventions & Innovators powering the Energy Transition

A detailed view of the leading innovators to watch based on recently-published inventions and applying weightings to technologies which enable the energy transition.
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After 25 years of advising companies on the strategic importance of intellectual property, I realised that patents would never evolve into a functional asset class without a trusted source of data in a form optimised for business decisions. The founder directors and investors agreed that this was a problem worth solving.

Nigel Swycher, CEO and co-founder, Cipher

Our Story

Cipher was founded by Nigel Swycher (CEO) and Steve Harris (CTO) in 2013 to harness the latest developments in AI and machine learning to automate recognised inefficiencies in the aggregation, analysis and visualisation of data relating to the ownership and use of patents.

Initially, Cipher was focused on analysing and comparing patent owning companies. In 2017 we invented Cipher Classifiers, a new and improved way to map patents to technologies using supervised machine learning. This breakthrough made it possible to establish objective and repeatable ways to communicate both the risk and value associated with patents to IP leaders, the board and the investor community more broadly.

Cipher is recognised as the leading provider of strategic patent intelligence to major patent owning organisations.


Where it started

Cipher as part of the Community

Oropo logo


Cipher is a founding member of the Open Register of Patent Ownership (ORoPO), which is committed to improving the data quality around patent ownership.

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PAE risk

Cipher is a member of LOT Network as we believe that patents should encourage innovation and not litigation. Read our report on the LOT Network portfolio.

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Cipher supports academic programmes to expand understanding of intellectual property including CIP at Gothenburg and Berkeley Universities and Skoltech.

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Mitigating Patent Risk

We work with organisations such as AST and OIN to promote patents as strategic assets, by promoting the message through a number of channels.

Leadership Team

Nigel Swycher podcast host Cipher Vision

Nigel Swycher – CEO

Nigel is CEO and co-founder of Cipher. Nigel’s background is as an IP lawyer, having been a partner at Slaughter and May, London for 20 years.  Throughout his career Nigel has focused on the creation, defence and exploitation of IP assets, and helping companies, their advisers and investors understand the importance of intangible assets. Nigel is a director of ORoPO (the Open Register of Patent Ownership) and is a recognised as an expert by the IAM Strategy 300.

Steve Harris – CTO

Steve is the co-founder and responsible for the design and implementation of Cipher. Previously he was CTO of a UK-based FinTech startup, Garlik, until its sale to Experian in 2011. Steve was a researcher at the University of Southampton, specialising in Artificial Intelligence, Information Extraction, and Graph Databases. Steve advises the UK Government and European Commission.  In 2020 Steve was recognised as an expert by the IAM Strategy 300.

Stewart Hogg – CRO

Stewart leads the Commercial arm of Cipher, managing the Sales, Customer success and Marketing teams, responsible for delivering revenue.  Stewart has run commercial teams, previously as Head of Sales and Marketing at Maplecroft for 4 years.  Prior to that he was at Wood Mackenzie for 12 years, where he held sales leadership positions in Europe and US, launching the sales effort in New York around Institutional Investors.  He started his career at Jobsite.

Niall McMahon
Head of Research

Niall leads the team working on integrating strategic patent intelligence solutions into client workflows. Niall has over 20 years experience in research and analysis, specifically covering upstream oil & gas, energy markets and above ground risk. Niall was Senior VP Head of Research with Verisk Maplecroft.  Previous to that Niall was Head of Investment Research with Wood Mackenzie in New York.

Francesca-Levoir podcast host cipher vision

Francesca Levoir
Head of Marketing

Francesca is responsible for building awareness of the Cipher brand and lead generation. Francesca worked at Wood Mackenzie for 16 years in Marketing, building teams in Asia and Europe; focusing on building brands in new markets, product launches,  acquisitions and developing new business leads for sales.  Francesca started her Marketing career at Procter & Gamble.

Board Members

Steve Halliday

Steve was Chairman, Natural Resources at Verisk Analytics and prior to that, CEO of Wood Mackenzie, providing natural resources commercial intelligence from 2007 to 2015.  Steve played a key role in the management buy-out in 2001, the exit to Candover in 2005, and led further exits to Charterhouse and Hellman and Friedman as well as the sale to Verisk in 2015.

Scott Bell
Non Exec Director

Scott is Chairman of Provenance and of AYA Data, and is a board member of a number of growth companies. He was previously Head of UK Corporate & Investment Banking, and Global Co-Head of Consumer, at Deutsche Bank.  Scott qualified as an accountant with Arthur Andersen, and then spent time in London and New York with Schroders, Goldman Sachs and HSBC. He has an MA from Cambridge University.

Harry Thomas
Non Exec Director

Harry has spent over 9 years in Venture Capital. He is an Investment Manager at Beringea and is responsible for sourcing investments, executing deals and monitoring portfolio companies. This involves working across the portfolio to help businesses to scale and secure exits. He is also involved in Hygenica, Peach and Previous exits include D3O and Chargemaster.

Advisory Board

Phil David

Phil has over 20 years legal experience in high technology.  He  joined ARM Holdings in 1994 and served as General Counsel from 2003-2017. Phil was Chairman of ARM’s IP Steering Committee. Phil is a director of the Open Register of Patent Ownership ( and served as a Non-Executive Director to Sarantel from 2010-2013.

Ewan Stradling

Ewan is CEO of BMS Finance, an investor and lender to high-tech companies. Ewan has worked in a range of companies, including as CFO for Netdecisions, and Agilisys, a high growth IT outsourcer. Before that, Ewan worked for Investec in their corporate finance department specialising in the technology, media and telecoms sector.

Moni Mannings

Moni is a Non-Executive Director on the boards of FTSE 250 companies Investec Bank PLC and Polypipe Group PLC, a Trustee of children’s charity Barnardo’s and Council Member of Cranfield University. Prior to that Moni enjoyed a 30 year career as a finance lawyer.  Until August 2017 Moni was also a Director and COO of Aistemos.

Dr Jeremy Phillips

Professor Jeremy Phillips is one of the world’s most respected IP academics. Jeremy was founding editor of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice and creator and blogmeister of the best read IP blog, IPKAT. He retired in 2016, but continues as Nigel Swycher’s inspiration.

Sir Nigel

Sir Nigel Shadbolt is Principal of Jesus College, Oxford and Professorial Research Fellow in the Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford. He is Chairman of the Open Data Institute which he co-founded. Nigel is an interdisciplinary researcher, policy expert and commentator.

Contact Us

Find out more about opportunities at Cipher or contact us to find out more about Cipher


Details about working at Cipher and the current roles we have available. We are currently seeking two Solutions Analysts.
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Contact us

Arrange a callback with one of our experts to discuss how Cipher can assist with your patent portfolio.
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With Cipher you can…

Portfolio Optimisation connecting cogs

Optimise your portfolio

Ensure you have the right portfolio to meet your strategic patenting objectives.

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Competitive Intelligence

Gather competitor intelligence

Understand who’s doing what by automating patent to technology mapping.

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Cross Licensing

Model cross licensing

Combine patent and revenue data to determine rational licensing outcomes.

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Manage your budget

Justify patent budgets and communicate the impact of your investment.

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Conduct due diligence

Automate manual reviews for efficient execution of M&A and licensing transactions.

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Tackle inbound patent assertion

Be prepared with evidence to create a fast and effective threat assessment.

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Benchmark your portfolio

Assess your portfolio in comparison to other owners through your technology lens.

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Monetise your portfolio

Identify opportunities to create value through licensing or sale of patent assets.

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Predict technology trends

Track new technologies and discover the unknown owners of future innovation.

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Create Risk Mitigation Strategies

Understand the materiality of your threats to define your risk mitigation strategy.

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Why Cipher

Trained by humans, built by machine to give you independently verified accuracy

“Cipher’s classifiers enable you to understand the patent landscape or analyze a portfolio. Combining expertise in both IP and data science, Cipher provides you with solutions to the strategic problems patent owners face, with quick and accurate results.” Erik Oliver, Richardson Oliver Insights

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Insights and Case Studies

Intellectual Property Strategy

Having an Intellectual Property strategy is key for all growing organisations today
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Red Hat on using the Cipher Optimisation Model

Jared Engstrom, Head of Patent Development, talks about the growth in Red Hat’s portfolio, how he has used Cipher’s custom classifiers and how the Cipher Optimisation model has improved their understanding of the competitive landscape.
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IAM 300

Steve Harris joins Nigel Swycher as part of the IAM 300 IP Strategists.
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Improve your patent strategy now

Speak to the Cipher team today.

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