IP Roadmap Aims At Facilitating Technology Transfer In The Arab World 28/11/2008 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 An intellectual property “roadmap” for the Arab world has been proposed for facilitating technology transfer as well as the adaptation of acquired technologies to local needs and contributing to the evolution of new technologies and their transfer to the marketplace. This IP roadmap was announced at the two-day 4th annual conference entitled, “Technology Transfer, Research and Development (R&D) and IP Commercialisation, Policies, and Investment” in Amman, Jordan in the period from 12-13 November. According to a 2005 report published by academy of sciences for developing countries and entitled “S&T In The Arab World: An Agenda For Action,” Arab countries are lagging in science and technology. Prabuddha Ganguli, chief executive officer of India-based VISION-IPR, told the conference that “a national IPR policy should set out transparent guidelines and benchmarks for ownership, clear provisions for ‘fair use’ of the IPRs, protection, transfer and commercialisation of IPRs, while, at the same time, giving appropriate privileges to the government to have … rights on the granted IPRs to utilise them in times of national emergency or for its own purposes with fair benefits and returns to the IP owners.” To do that, “the governments in the Arab world must create frameworks that link academics with specific industries operating in the region as well as focusing investments in building a critical band of ‘IP literates’ and ‘IP professionals’ in various institutions of the region to function as networked communities of IP good practices,” he said. Ganguli is a consultant to the World Intellectual Property Organization on IP capacity-building programmes in developing countries. “Such an activity will lay the foundation for the formation of regional associations of technology transfer literates and professionals which would promote innovations and their transfer to industries for commercialisation.” Ganguli said. These activities could also lead to the functioning of “effective knowledge networks” involving commercial institutions and “centres of knowledge excellence,” he added, thereby “synergising the transfer of technology from the [centres of excellence] to industry and business for maximising value realisation of their creative and innovative output for the benefit of both the institution and themselves.” To achieve that, Ganguli said a number of steps need to be followed. These include training of personnel in industry and academia to manage intellectual property through extensive IP awareness workshops and training for effective use of patent information databases in project planning and execution. It also involves creating a consortium of funding agencies in the region to access technologies developed in institutions to fund (through low interest loans, venture funding and other means) IP-related activities including foreign filing and granting of IP rights. Ganguli also said that academics and universities must set up “collaborative projects, with the responsibility for managing the created IPR resting on the industry.” Such linkages, he said, “would seed purpose-oriented research projects which have direct clientele and hence a pipeline for transfer of technology generated in universities.” For a model of this nature to be functional, Ganguli said “Arab governments must have formal laws operative in their respective countries that would govern matters related to funding, ownership and benefit-sharing of created IPR through public-private partnerships.” Ganguli emphasised that “Arab states also need to take direct actions including the setting up of laws similar to the one in South Africa in order to provide for more effective utilisation of IP emanating from publicly financed R&D, establish the national IP management office and the IP fund, [and oversee] the establishment of offices of technology transfer at institutions.” “This law will pave the way for the development of effective platforms for facile technology transfer from academics to industry,” Ganguli said. An area of concern, he said, is the “non-availability of a critical number of trained human resources for the creation of exclusive IPR cells in institutions in the Arab region.” As an interim measure, “it should be possible to set up regional IPR facilitation centres – consisting of key stakeholders drawn from universities and institutions and industry in the region – till a critical mass of IP literates is created,” he added. Ganguli said the regional centres “would ensure the maximisation of available human and systems resources in the region and also help in establishing a light-footed IPR brigade to obtain and exploit the innovations effectively flowing from the academics to the industry in the Arab world.” In response to the idea, Hassan Moawad Abdel Al, former president of Alexandria’s Mubarak City for Scientific Research and Technology Applications (Egypt) suggested that the roadmap “must become an integral part” of the Arab science and technology plan of action being prepared for approval by the Arab League ministers of science and technology before submitting to the first Arab economic and social development summit to be held in Kuwait from 19-20 January 2009. Wagdy Sawahel may be reached at email@example.com. 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