New US Industry, Government-Backed Centre Promotes Industry View In Developing Countries 03/04/2006 by William New, 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)A new centre on innovation established at a top law school in Washington, DC is dedicated to promoting acceptance of developed country industry practices in developing countries. The centre is backed by US industry and government, and the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), among others. The Creative and Innovative Economy Center was launched on 1 January at the George Washington University Law School. The director of the centre is Michael Ryan, whose contacts in prior positions doing similar work helped him to garner the funding. Ryan has a reputation for representing the US industry perspective in his work in developing countries. In an interview with Intellectual Property Watch, he acknowledged that this is the case. “It’s a fair characterisation to say that I am very pro-business,” he said. “I’m very pro-business in developing countries, and I’m very pro-multinational companies.” Ryan argues that multinational companies offer the best way to integrate new knowledge into a country. Companies supporting the centre so far include major pharmaceutical companies and associations such as Abbott, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, and Wyeth. Other companies include General Electric, Microsoft, and the News Corporation. In addition, it has support from a variety of universities from across Africa and elsewhere, and funding from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and WIPO. Significant country-specific funding also is expected from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Ryan said. Ryan said in the interview that the majority of the centre’s funding will come from “public monies,” while the industry contributions will go toward general operations. “With the companies, they don’t sign on for us to [do] a particular thing,” Ryan said. “They write a check to us, and with that check then we carry out our whole range of activities. What I basically say to them is, ‘Here’s our agenda, and if you’d like to be a part of that agenda, then help us.’ It’s sort of like being a Baptist minister. We carry on all these missionary works, so the Baptist minister says, ‘Please reach into your pocket and give us support.’ The basic philosophy for the centre is that a high growth economy “only comes in one way, and that is by having innovation and creativity in your economy,” Ryan said. According to Ryan, the centre’s strategy is to identify key developing countries in each region, find a government official or other person who is friendly to their message (a “champion”), and arrange a meeting with other influential people there. The meetings may be called seminars or roundtables, and are considered by Ryan to be educational. Ryan is expected to do little actual teaching at George Washington, he said. “We’re going to release these reports and if we make them useful, if we make them targeted on their concerns, then they will learn from them and decide maybe that there’s things they should model,” Ryan said. He disagreed with the assertion that the centre will directly advise governments, referring instead to its role in offering “educational programmes.” Ryan’s vision is that the centre’s work will lead to legislative and policy changes in developing countries in the coming years. “I believe it’s the case that five years from now … we will be able to show that in certain countries, laws were changed, policies were changed, activities happened that resulted in growth,” he said. “It’s taken me 10 years to get to this point.” The centre may also conduct research and publish reports that can prove politically useful to industry in international negotiations. For instance, at the outset of the February negotiations on a proposal for a development agenda at WIPO, the centre held a roundtable to release its new report touting the success of the IP system in Brazil, which is taking a leadership role in promoting the development agenda. The report on biomedical innovation, which countered Brazil’s position in the WIPO negotiations, was presented to invited key government officials and industry supporters (as well as a few journalists) as a side event to the WIPO meeting. The centre funds projects from professors and others, and has funding for more than a dozen projects in 2006, Ryan said. It also has signed an agreement with the Max Planck Institute and others at the Munich Intellectual Property Law Centre, as well as a partnership in India, he said. It also is working on other partnerships in Europe and Africa, he said. This year, the centre will have studies in key developing countries on music, film, information technology, information and publishing, and software, Ryan said. The message to governments and local industry includes the importance of enforcing intellectual property rights, such as that of foreign firms, he said. Ryan has served on the faculties of the University of Michigan School of Business and the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and School of Business. He said his approach fit with the George Washington law school dean’s vision of expanding the school’s presence in developing countries. Ryan’s work has been funded for years by the USAID, USPTO, WIPO and some national governments, especially Jordan, where he has promoted multinational pharmaceutical industry interests. Please note: the full interview with Michael Ryan may found on the Intellectual Property Watch website, www.ip-watch.org, in the Inside Views column. 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) Related "New US Industry, Government-Backed Centre Promotes Industry View In Developing Countries" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.