Tag Archives: ppp

“Agricultural Research Needs Better Intellectual Property Rules”

See news item recently published on the University of Guelph blog.  “Agricultural Research Needs Better Intellectual Property Rules.  Consumers and low-income farmers benefit from agricultural innovations

The article talks about the Review that took place of CAS-IP this year, chaired by Prof Helen Hambly from Guelph’s School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (SEDRD).

“We need a clear set of rules to guide public-private partnerships, to ensure the integrity of public research, and to enable innovation and communication of research results to benefit low-income countries,” says Hambly, chair of the review team for the CGIAR Central Advisory Service for Intellectual Property.

Updating intellectual property (IP) rules in global agricultural research will help various groups, she says. Poor farmers and consumers, for instance, look to the benefits of science and innovation to deal with the effects of climate change, growing poverty and rising food prices. “There’s a big risk that the world’s poor will be left behind…

..Better co-ordination of private research and publicly funded science is critical…”

You can view the report on the CAS-IP website “CAS-IP Review” – and it’s not too late to comment either.  We have an open consultation until the end of the year on issues the review raises for IP in ag dev.  Either follow the links to the comment board, or email k.chapman@cgiar.org directly.

Tips for Negotiating Public-Private Collaborations

My attention was drawn to this piece of news recently through the FS-Ag Biotech news portal. CIMMYT has entered into a partnership with Syngenta “to focus on the development and advancement of technology in wheat, the most internationally traded food crop and the single largest food import in developing countries. The agreement will entail joint research and development in the areas of native and GM traits, hybrid wheat and the combination of seeds and crop protection to accelerate plant yield performance.”

I sent the news to Carolina Roa, the IP manager of CIMMYT, and asked if she has tips to share with the IP community in putting together this collaboration. She had the following to say:

“To me there are a couple of key aspects…
1) having clear the centre’s expectations, needs and justifications before entering the collaboration;
2) knowing what it can contribute to the collaboration in terms of assets and looking for complementing and enhancing those assets with the ones of the collaborator;
3) having clear what it wants to deliver, to whom and how (the strategies to do it); and
4) put all these things clearly at the table when the dialogue/discussion with the possible collaborator starts.

Any potential collaborator…will appreciate that, as it facilitates, clarifies and speeds up the process. Something that we’ve found particularly helpful is to articulate these things in a key terms document that will be the basis for the discussion with the potential collaborator…Getting agreement on the key terms document takes away some of the pressure of discussing and entering into a full agreement upfront. The potential parties are more relaxed about discussing, commenting on such a document than on an already made collaboration agreement.”

I think the tips by Carolina are very useful and right on point. We speak of public-private collaborations all the time and how we need to encourage more partnerships in this direction for the benefit of small-scale developing country farmers and creating more public goods. I am sure that many out there who are reading our blog have interesting negotiation experiences to share and I encourage you to use the comment boxes below to let us know your set of tips when negotiating collaborations.

Post written by Guat Hong Teh, Legal Specialist for CAS-IP

Licensing of Modified Virgin Coconut Oil in Malaysia

The National Partners Initiative (NPI) of CAS-IP is publishing 5 working papers from 5 Agricultural Research Institutions in developing countries.  These case studies aim to share country experiences from developing countries in the areas surrounding IP policy making, policy implementation and use of IPRs by researchers for leveraging more benefits to the stakeholders, people, institutions and countries. The results of the five studies have been prepared as five working papers.

The first one from MARDI in Malaysia is entitled: “Pre-Commercialisation and Licensing of Modified Virgin Coconut Oil” written by Guat Hong Teh (CAS-IP) and Rafeah A. Rahman (MARDI).

Commercialisation of publicly-funded research in Malaysia is low. Studies have shown that a complex interaction of policy direction, funding mechanism, innovation structure, diffusion mechanisms and manpower availability is necessary to increase the interaction between public research institutes, universities and the private sector, in order to bring research to market. In this paper, the authors showcase a recently patented product known as modified virgin coconut oil and how the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) has been able to up-scale its production and licence the technology to two private companies. Factors leading to its success include the newly-launched TechnoFund scheme by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI); the selection of the right private sector partners and the building of trust and confidence between them; an extremely dedicated and proactive inventor who is business savvy; and the internal MARDI support to research staff for IP management and business development needs.

The paper concludes by looking into further steps that MARDI can take to exploit the potential of this technology, investments that it should continue to make for augmenting its current internal skill sets, and a recommendation to consider the pros and cons of future models of collaboration with the private sector.

The full text can be viewed HERE.

Post written by Karine Malgrand    , Facilitator of the National Partners Initiative for CAS-IP

IPRs & research for the public good

As I have quoted in the past; Victoria Henson-Apollonio once said:

“think of IP as a tool, like a hammer you can use it to knock a nail into a piece of wood, or you can smash a window..!”

I was reminded of these words reading a piece printed in the Guardian entitled “The Shackling of Science: ownership rights pose real danger to scientific progress for public good”.

The final paragraph of the article points to:

The Manchester Manifesto, produced by an interdisciplinary and international group of experts … explores these problems and points the way to future solutions that will more effectively protect science, innovation and the public good. It calls on all interested parties to find better ways of delivering the fruits of science where they are most needed.”

The commercial gains cited as a large part of the problem are probably evidence enough IPRs aren’t going away anytime soon.  Therefore a prudent action would be to make sure public sector institutions become more savvy when managing their own intellectual property, especially when dealing with the private sector.  That way efforts can be made to ensure public sector research outputs remain available.  There are examples of positive application of the IP tool, but they aren’t going to make headlines in the same way as the negative ones…

The hot potato of public access in the face of commercialisation

  “A Better Pencil” – Inside Higher Ed

An article about the changes both real and feared, that the electronic age might have on the way we communicate.  It is based around an interview with the writer of a book on the subject, Dennis Baron.

The interview touched on the subject of the Google Books project.
Baron said:

“First, I think it’s great to digitize as much nondigital text as possible… What I don’t like is that Google is poised to monopolize text. No one entity should have that kind of power over the word…  The sorts of operations that Google…represent are important to how we use computers, and they make a vital contribution to our economy. But while they have been important in shaping our literacy practices, they should not get to dictate them.”

This debate is fascinating.  A similar argument surrounds the commercialisation of publicly funded research in agriculture and there is a danger that we oversimplify the debate.  There is not a YES/NO answer to this issue, and the dynamics are intricate.  Free doesn’t constitute uptake and use,  but private raises another new set of considerations regarding control.  The argument for continued adequate public funding of research for sustainable agriculture to ensure food availability and empower farmers must be made in a way that is clear to every government.  Otherwise will we encourage a Google®-type organisation to hold rights for all improved seed in the future?

In fact Baron goes on to say:

“Not only does Google intend to profit from this kind of control (it answers to its stockholders, not to the public), it would have the power to manipulate the text under its control, deciding who can and cannot see it, what can be displayed, what can be erased.”

And that is an important point.  If rights are signed over completely then with them go all safeguards.  But we need to find a way to strike a balance between allowing commercialisation (where distribution of a product might not otherwise happen),  whilst not loosing sight of the ethos of public goods.  And finding that balance is not easy…. 

As guardians of public goods we have a huge responsibility to make those goods accessible.  We cannot be academically against initiatives like Google Books without actively addressing why it is there is a demand for this private service.  Public goods are doing no good at all if they sit hidden in a closed repository, or if they are transferred to 3rd parties without an obligation to disseminate results to those who need them.

the G8 summit statement on food security

During the G8 meeting last week in Italy a joint statement was released on global food security endorsed by the G8, the other attending countries, donors and international organisations.  The statement can be downloaded from the CGIAR website (see lead link).

The statement renews commitment to conclude the Doha Development Round successfully — this stalled some time back (see CAS-IP blog posting on the collapse).

In the G8 document there were 12 points in all, at least 5 of those could be of particular relevance to a community concerned with intellectual property management and/or agricultural development in general.  Those 5 points I have cut and pasted below in their entirety (emphasis on partnerships, PPPs, regional efforts as well as general donor/funding themes).  There is no comment from our team as yet.  Of course it’s hard for anyone to predict how this will translate into action on the ground.  For now here are the points that seemed most pertinent FYI:

5. Sustained and predictable funding and increased targeted investments are urgently required
to enhance world food production capacity. Commitments to increase ODA must be fulfilled.
The tendency of decreasing ODA and national financing to agriculture must be reversed. We
are committed to increase investments in short, medium and long term agriculture development
that directly benefits the poorest and makes best use of international institutions. We support
public-private partnerships with adequate emphasis on the development of infrastructure aimed
at increasing resources for agriculture and improving investment effectiveness.

8. Strengthening global and local governance for food security is key to defeating hunger and
malnutrition, as well as to promote rural development. Improved global governance should build
on existing International Organizations and International Financial Institutions, making use of
their comparative advantage, enhancing their coordination and effectiveness and avoiding
duplications. To this end, we support the UN High Level Task Force on the Global Food
Security Crisis. At the same time, we support the fundamental reform processes underway in
the FAO, the Committee on World Food Security, the Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research and the global agricultural research system through the Global Forum on
Agricultural Research.

9. By joining efforts with partners and relevant stakeholders around the world, we can together
design and implement an effective food security strategy, with priority on the world’s poorest
regions. We agree to support a global effort whose core principles are country ownership and
effectiveness. We pledge to advance by the end of 2009 – consistent with our other actions
aimed at an improved global governance for food security – the implementation of the Global
Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security.

10. We support the implementation of country and regional agricultural strategies and plans
through country-led coordination processes, consistent with the Accra Agenda for Action and
leveraging on the Comprehensive Framework for Action of the UN High Level Task Force and
on existing donor coordination mechanisms. Building on the experience of FAO, IFAD and other
Agencies, special focus must be devoted to smallholder and women farmers and their access to
land, financial services, including microfinance and markets. Sustained efforts and investments
are necessary for enhancing agricultural productivity and for livestock and fisheries

Priority actions should include improving access to better seeds and fertilizers, promoting
sustainable management of water, forests and natural resources, strengthening capacities to
provide extension services and risk management instruments, and enhancing the efficiency of
food value chains. In this regard, the increased involvement of civil society and private sector is
a key factor of success. Investment in and access to education, research, science and
technologies should be substantially strengthened at national, regional and international level.
Their dissemination, as well as the sharing of information and best practices including through
North-South, South-South and Triangular cooperation, is essential to promote knowledge-based
policy and national capacity. We recognize the opportunities and challenges associated with
renewable energy production from biomasses. Related investment should be promoted in a
sustainable way compatible with our food security goals.

11. In Africa, NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) is an
effective vehicle for ensuring that resources are targeted to a country’s plans and priorities.
Local ownership must begin with the national political will to develop and implement
comprehensive food security strategies, based on sound scientific evidence, inclusive
consultation, domestic investment and clear directions. We also acknowledge the positive
contribution of African-led public-private partnership such as the b We commit to provide
resources – whether financial, in-kind or technical assistance – in support of CAADP and other
similar regional and national plans in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia.”

Development 2.0 – blend of economic and social objectives

Referencing a item that was posted back in March, the PSD blog talks again about “development 2.0” and the opinion that in the future this model may gradually replace the traditional-style development model.  The lead link also mentions a recent report by the US Chamber of Commerce, “Development 2.0: Changing the Way Globalization Works“.  There is much talk of partnerships, crossover planning and role of multinationals in emerging markets.

“Private-sector action is not simply altruistic, but reflects a growing overlap in interests as development challenges are increasingly impacting the ability of firms to operate effectively.”

All this concentration on partnerships and crossover planning will no doubt raise many IP issues!