South Africa’s Push For Knowledge-Based Economy Through IP 03/01/2018 by Munyaradzi Makoni 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) The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and are not associated with Intellectual Property Watch. IP-Watch expressly disclaims and refuses any responsibility or liability for the content, style or form of any posts made to this forum, which remain solely the responsibility of their authors. CAPE TOWN, South Africa – “If you want to create a knowledge-based economy and be part of it, be players not observers. There isn’t a stronger backbone than having an understanding of what IP is.” This statement was made by Mmboneni Muofhe, Department of Science and Technology (DST) deputy director general for technology and innovation, at the ninth Intellectual Property Summer School held at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in December. The meeting brought together students, lawyers, scientists and different professionals drawn from Africa and other parts of the developing world for a ten-day intensive programme in intellectual property. Mmboneni Muofhe, Department of Science and Technology deputy director general for technology and innovation, addresses participants “When we started the WIPO Summer School, South Africa was only focused on IP in its different forms. That has now broadened to include the transfer of technology,” said Kerry Faul, head of the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIMPO). “Since then we have seen how the use of IP along with the innovation value chain, over a period of time, has changed.” Driving the annual gathering is the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Academy, which runs various summer schools and IP courses around the world aiming to develop a deeper understanding of a modern balanced IP system that can be effectively used to encourage economic, social and cultural development. Also involved in the prestigious programme are the Japanese Patent Office (JPO), the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST), which administers NIMPO, and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which runs the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) promoting education and awareness of IP laws and registration of IP rights. Sixty students who had completed the introductory WIPO distance learning course on Intellectual Property Management participated in the 2017 Summer School, held from 27 November to 8 December. Issues covered included copyright, the role of patents, IP funding, and the interaction between industry and academia in technology transfer. The training was presented by top-level local and international experts in the field of IP and tech transfer. These were complemented by discussions on case studies and practical exercises on selected IP and tech transfer topics, with an emphasis on the interface between IP and other disciplines. Kerry Faul speaks to participants at the summer school Faul says owing to South Africa’s success in hosting past summer schools, the cap on student numbers was scrapped. In addition, the hosts now decide how much they want to charge and can allocate the fees according to their own priorities. In South Africa, the WIPO Summer School has trained over 400 students since its inception nine years ago. An improvement to the summer school this year was the inclusion of more practical course where lecturers ask students to perform from conception to delivery to shape their expertise. It is clear, however, that gaps in IP knowledge across Africa are still a challenge. “One of the biggest gaps is the basic understanding of IP,” Faul said. “And where it’s understood it is being taken as the end goal. People should understand about IP’s marketability and its role as a tool to bring social and economic development.” Muofhe put it in a nutshell when he said the spirit of Ubuntu should stop when it comes to IP. Yasushi Naito, consul of Japan in Cape Town, said establishing and improving IP systems is essential for promoting innovation throughout the world. Japan used to be a developing country but it was able to transform itself through industrialisation. “It is essential to share our experience with other countries,” he said. “Appropriate propagation of IP in Africa is not only to encourage investment in Africa by foreign countries. By bringing out the potential of Africa, this will lead to thriving sustainable economic growth in Africa,” Naito added. As South Africa develops its first Intellectual Property Policy – the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released the draft version in August this year – issues of IP and technology transfer are again taking centre stage in the country. At the same time, debate rages internationally on the pros and cons of existing patenting laws, and its consequences for innovation and the public good that can or should stem from especially technological and health innovations. Participants at the ninth WIPO Summer School at the University of Western Cape – Photo Zama Mthethwa Nomonde Maimela, executive manager for innovation and creativity at the DTI, said different roles in the value chain of IP are in need of expertise. “Our main concern is to empower small to medium enterprises that currently have little or no participation in this area, to benefit from their IP,” she said, adding that South Africa launched a two-year IP asset management training for small to medium enterprises in November 2016. On average, South Africa receives about 9,000 patent applications annually. According to WIPO, over the 15-year period from 2000 to 2014, non-residents topped the number of patents registered in South Africa. They are followed by applicants from abroad but originated from South Africa and local South Africans came last. This is a situation that Maimela hopes will change in future as course participants will help train other players in IP. Image Credits: Zama Mthethwa 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 Munyaradzi Makoni may be reached at email@example.com."South Africa’s Push For Knowledge-Based Economy Through IP" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.