Effective management and protection of Intellectual Property (IP) is key to nations unlocking economic growth and development. Safeguarding IP was high on the agenda at the annual two-week summer school.

Students and young professionals from all over the world are gathering at the University of Western Cape for the two-week summer school on Intellectual Property (IP) and Technology Transfer (TT).

Jointly hosted by the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST’s) entity the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) of the Department of Trade and Industry and University of the Western Cape (UWC), the ninth summer school started on 27 November to 8 December 2017.

Speaking at the opening event DST’s Deputy Director- General: Technology Innovation, Mmboneni Muofhe said the management of IP has become a critical factor in ensuring socio-economic growth in a majority of countries. “It is key and increasingly recognised as a powerful tool for economic, social and cultural development. In a fast evolving space in which we live, today’s solutions end up becoming problems and we are urged to innovate on a continuous basis. Therefore, IP protection is required to enjoy the fruits our innovations”, he said.

Also, speaking at the opening, the Counsellor at the Embassy of Japan in South Africa Mr Yasushi Naito, said: “Establishing and improving IP systems is essential to further promote innovations and developing industries in Africa. Japan is the third biggest economy that has advanced from being a developing country and one of the countries with the highest number of patents. It has always strived to be the most innovative friendly country in the world”.

To highlight Japan’s understanding on the importance of IP rights, the Japanese Consulate in Cape Town hosted an IP officers meeting in Southern Africa in March 2017 where more than 30 officers, government representatives, agencies and Japanese companies gathered to discuss model cases of protection of Japanese IP rights.

“The appropriate protection of IP in Africa will not only lead to encouraging investments in Africa by foreign countries including Japan but will also bring out the distinctive potential of Africa. This will ultimately lead to driving sustainable economic growth in Africa countries”, concluded Mr. Naito.

The DST established NIPMO to implement the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act, 2008 (Act 51 of 2008. Amongst other activities NIPMO seeks to provide assistance to institutions for establishment of Offices of Technology Transfer (OTT), IP transactions and commercialisation of the IP as well as provide incentives IP creators. To this end NIPMO manages the OTT Support Fund.

The summer school held annually, is aimed at students and young professionals with a business and law background, and government officials whose duties may require them to have an understanding of how the international IP system functions and its intersection with other policy areas such as health, climate change, and agriculture.

Its objective is to provide an opportunity for students and young professionals to acquire deeper knowledge and gain an appreciation of IP as a tool for economic, social and technological development.

Dr Kerry Faul, Head of NIPMO, stressed that the summer school, as in previous years, focuses specifically on IP and TT- issues that are key to the success of a country’s development.  “As students, IP and junior professionals, the aim of these two weeks is to provide you with more focused legal and technical knowledge of the international IP system” she added.

 

Participants are exposed to various aspects of IP rights, including the international nature of IP protection. The programme takes an interdisciplinary problem-oriented approach through the lectures by experts in the field of IP and TT, simulation exercises, group discussions on selected IP topics, panel discussions and case studies. The summer school provides a great opportunity for participants to get an in-depth insight into the contemporary and interesting topics and the key role of IP.

Prof Vivienne Lawack, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic at UWC said the university’s vision to provide opportunities for an excellent learning and teaching experience that is contextually responsive to the challenges of globalisation and of a society is transition and which enhances the student’s capacities as change agents in the 21st century.

She described the summer school as one such opportunity for learning and teaching. “Its purpose is to expand your knowledge of IP, TT and commercialisation, thus better equipping the participants for a knowledge and innovation driven economy”, she said.