Islamic Strategy: Knowledge Access, Local Innovation And IP Protection 20/10/2008 by Wagdy Sawahel for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)By Wagdy Sawahel for Intellectual Property Watch Islamic states have declared 2009 “the year for renewal and innovation” and will launch a project to prepare a landmark map of science, technology and innovation to promote science and technology investment and technical cooperation both within the Islamic world, and between the Islamic world and Europe as well as setting up a centre to facilitate access to scientific publications and patent registration. This was announced at the fourth Islamic conference of the ministers of higher education and scientific research, held in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku from 6-8 October, under the theme “Bringing Change through A Scientific Youth Force.” The Islamic states will establish an Islamic World Science Citation Center (ISC) to facilitate accessibility of Islamic countries’ scientific publications within the Islamic world as well as facilitating registration of patents of the Islamic countries to preserve Muslim scientists’ patent rights. The landmark map project, called the Atlas of Islamic World Innovation (AIWI), is a three-year project to produce a map of science, technology and innovation (STI) and build the skills and capacity of STI analysts and decision-makers across the Islamic world. It was initiated by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in cooperation with Demos Group and Nature magazine. Besides mapping key trends and trajectories in science and technology-based innovation across the 57-country membership of the OIC, AIWI aims to identify new opportunities for collaboration between scientists, policymakers and companies in the Islamic world and Europe, particularly directed towards shared global challenges of climate change, poverty reduction and sustainability. AIWI also aims at promoting integration among OIC countries through the identification of opportunities for matching the supply and demand sides of science and technology (S&T), and joint S&T research and development programmes as well as attracting S&T-focused investments to OIC member states through making the status of S&T and technology commercialisation opportunities more visible within OIC countries and the rest of the world. AIWI also aims to create new networks for the exchange of ideas, policies and good practices both within the Islamic world, and between the Islamic world and Europe. Speaking to Intellectual Property Watch, Syeda Tanvir Naim, former chair of Pakistan’s Council on Science and Technology and consultant to the OIC’s Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) in Islamabad, Pakistan, said “AIWI will be prepared for three short-listed countries first (Malaysia, Iran and Jordon) and then for about 15 other OIC countries which are willing to participate in this exercise.” Naim indicated that the OIC secretariat in collaboration with Demos Group has initiated an exercise on AIWI. Demos Group will visit the target country, carry out interviews with some relevant experts from the public and private sectors in each country, study country reports and synthesise information available on each country’s innovation system. A series of articles about Islamic world innovations will appear in Nature magazine. “This exercise may provide some visibility to science for some countries and may motivate others to invest more in education and scientific research.” Naim said. Naim said, “Before starting this exercise we should ask India, China, South Korea and Brazil, which Demos has previously prepared reports for, how useful these reports were for them.” Naim added “The reports are written by young science journalists and although very readable they may not provide key recommendations that OIC countries need for development of their innovation system.” Naim, who initiated the establishment of the Technology and Innovation Policy Research Centre at COMSTECH, concluded by saying “OIC countries should indulge in evaluating their own innovation systems; this can only be possible if these countries set up policy research institutions in their countries. Presently only Turkey, Malaysia and Jordon have STI policy research centres.” First Islamic World Science Citation Center The Iran-based Islamic World Science Citation Center (ISC) aims to promote technical cooperation among Muslim scientists and Islamic science and technology centers as well as facilitating accessibility of knowledge and research results among Muslim scientists. To do that, ISC will analyse the Islamic countries’ research performance including ranking researchers, articles, journals and institutes. It also will provide access to current and retrospective scientometrics and a bibliographic database as well as citation indexing and analysis covering scientific journals from the OIC member states, including journals in their national languages along with indexing service the Science Citation Index. ISC will also adopt measures that would facilitate registration of patents of the Islamic countries to preserve Muslim scientists’ patent rights. An executive committee for ISC will be established by the deputy ministers for research from all OIC regions along with the criteria for the assessing research performance from the OIC regions; the strategy to promote the methods and mechanisms of collecting scientific resources from OIC regions as well as ways for developing of ISC to be elevated at OIC region and international level , will be finalised in a meeting to be held in Tehran, Iran in the period from 20 to 21 December 2008. Islamic States: 2009 ‘Year of Innovation’ The conference also agreed to declare 2009 as the year for renewal and innovation in the Islamic world and called upon Morocco-based Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) as well as national and regional science institutions to implement programmes and projects to mark this event by organising youth contests and Olympics of science, technology and innovation. In a bid to build science capacity, also presented was a project for selecting 20 universities and nurturing them to become among the top 500 world universities and turning them into models for others to follow. Besides adopting the creation of the network of women scientists in OIC member countries to empower them to actively take part in scientific and technological development, the conference urged Islamic states to contribute at least one percent of their gross domestic income for the promotion of science and technology. It also urged universities, scientific research centres, specialised scientific bodies, the private sector and donors to develop partnerships and cooperation to exchange expertise and activate the knowledge dimensions in the economic fields. Hassanuddeen Abd Aziz, associate professor at the faculty of economics and management sciences of the International Islamic University of Malaysia, welcomed the new OIC science initiatives saying to Intellectual Property Watch “Islamic states have no choice…either they must innovate, strengthen scientific and technological capabilities, set up knowledge-based economy or left behind” (IPW, Technical Cooperation/Technology Transfer, 4 September 2008). Abd Aziz added, “these initiatives will have a strong impact on promoting intellectual property-based innovation in the Islamic world and we hope to hear about their implementation in the next Islamic conference of the ministers of higher education and scientific research that will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in October 2010.” Wagdy Sawahel may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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