WIPO Launches Strategic Plan 2017-2021 For Re:Search Program 25/05/2017 by Elise De Geyter for Intellectual Property Watch and William New 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)The World Intellectual Property Organization this week has striven to show its commitment to contributing to the debate on intellectual property and health, and the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, through advancement of its Re:Search program for the next five years. The new WIPO Re:Search Strategic Plan 2017-2021 was launched during WIPO Re:Search’s biennial meeting on 23 May. In addition, a side event on WIPO Re:Search, entitled “Building Capacity for Innovation and Access: Combatting Neglected Tropical Diseases,” was held today alongside the World Health Assembly. WIPO Re:Search side event today WIPO Re:Search, launched in 2011, aims at catalysing research on neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis and demonstrating that IP can contribute to stimulate investment in innovation. According to the strategic plan, WIPO Re:Search has reached a milestone with more than 100 members and collaborations. The establishment of 112 collaborations and the continuation of 34 collaborations within WIPO Re:Search have demonstrated that IP is not a barrier to upstream research on tropical neglected diseases, according to WIPO. The WIPO Re:Search Strategic plan 2017-2021 aims at building upon these achievements. “Over the next five years, partnerships will continue to be central to WIPO Re:Search,” the report summarises. “BVGH [which manages the Re:Search project for WIPO] will implement a more process-driven and targeted partnership development approach to link R&D programs with gaps and disease burdens. WIPO Re:Search, however, may significantly expand activities with respect to IP by working, upon request, with partners to provide input regarding appropriate IP management strategies. Contingent upon additional funding, WIPO Re:Search hopes to expand capacity-building programs and provide limited financial support to some collaborations to advance their research.” Four Goals to 2021 The 2017-2021 plan seeks to achieve four strategic goals by different implementing activities, it states. The first strategic goal is to use IP assets to advance R&D for neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis through collaborations. The acceleration of the advancement of promising compounds or leads is the second strategic goal. The other goals are the enhancement of global capacity for IP management and biomedical R&D and the communication of the beneficial role of IP in innovation for neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. Programs in partnerships, IP management, funding of research projects, capacity-building and communications will be used to achieve the strategic goals. The strategic plan 2017-2021 is the result of discussions between the WIPO secretariat, BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), WIPO Re:Search Advisory Committee and consultations with members of WIPO Re:Search. Even though WIPO does not have a mandate in public health per se, IP and innovation is so cross-cutting with life that WIPO has an obligation to contribute to pressing global issues, speakers emphasised during the biennial meeting. At both events, Jennifer Dent, president of BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), WIPO Re:Search Partnership Hub Administrator, in Seattle, Washington, gave a full report on the program. Also at both events, there was engagement of John Reeder, director of the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), housed at the WHO in Geneva. A further speaker at both events was Minelik Alemu Getahun, assistant director general, Global Issues Sector at WIPO. Also in attendance at both was Edward Kwakwa of the Global Issues Sector, former WIPO legal counsel, and Jon Pender, vice president, government affairs, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and WIPO Re:Search Advisory Committee member, United Kingdom. Other speakers at today’s events included Amr Ramadan, Egyptian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, and Effua Abigail Usuf, Medical Research Council UK, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, West African Global Health Research Fellow, Banjul, The Gambia. She described her one year stint as in the Re:Search program as very positive and said it led to further research in her position now. Re:Search and Access Anatole Krattiger, director of the Global Challenges Division at WIPO, told the gathering that access, from a purely IP perspective, lies in the way IP is managed throughout the innovation cycle. This reaches from R&D, to regulatory aspects, to manufacturing, to distribution at the national level, and to product trade, he said afterward. WIPO Re:Search Biennial Meeting “We have learned that IP is not a barrier, at least for accessing the IP of companies,” he said today. WIPO takes the view that there is one element that is “crippling” the effort, that is that they would like to be able to find funding in small grants that could advance projects a little further, “de-risk” those, and play a bigger advisory role, and lead toward development and acceleration of products. On the access debate, “We are entering it unwillingly perhaps,” he said. There is a “fundamental misunderstanding” that the IP element will be the “silver bullet”, he said. IP plays a role, but there are other issues, like regulatory barriers, and trade, Krattiger said. From the audience, Judit Rius of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders), countered to ask why WIPO would say it is reluctant to enter the access debate when it has had a clear mandate from member states for years. She also said it is time to start looking at IP beyond patents, such as trade secrets. She described a case where people are dying despite the existence of a compound for 10 years, because it is under trade secret and not being developed. Alemu Getahun of WIPO responded to say that WIPO is seeking to leverage IP and the system and its components for global health in areas such as neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. And he raised a trilateral study completed with neighbouring institutions, the World Health Organization and World Trade Organization. On the trade secret issue, Krattiger added afterward that collaborations like those of Re:Search are transfers of knowhow, such as compounds, compound libraries and unpublished research. “It’s so much more than patents,” he said. Transition At the internal Re:Search meeting, it was announced that Thomas Bombelles, who has headed public health issues at WIPO since moving from the PhRMA industry association in Washington, DC, has started his new role as head of NGO and Industry Relations at WIPO. Krattiger, in thanking him for his service with a hug, said theirs was the best professional relationship over the past 5 years of any he’s had in his career, and announced a reward that the stylish Meghania Sharafudeen of WIPO’s Global Challenges Division, who is an artist, would be visiting Bombelles in his home to “get a sense” of the man and then paint his portrait. The somewhat private Bombelles may have met this award with mixed emotions but smiled bravely. Elise De Geyter is an intern at Intellectual Property Watch and a candidate for the LLM Intellectual Property and Technology Law at the National University of Singapore (class 2017). Image Credits: William New 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 Elise De Geyter may be reached at email@example.com.William New may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."WIPO Launches Strategic Plan 2017-2021 For Re:Search Program" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.