Tag Archives: tech transfer

“Food Security Needs Sound IP”: IPRs critical to meet the demands of a growing population

This article in The Scientist “Opinion: Food Security Needs Sound IP”  starts with the all too familiar population projections for the coming years, and the subsequent pressure this will put on agriculture.  It goes on to point out that techniques and technologies will be required to meet this challenge – and that IPRs will need to be improved in order to promote the necessary technology transfer to areas most in need.

“The effective use of research and IPR can help drive delivery of innovative and productivity-increasing technologies crucial to agricultural and economic growth and achieving future needs for food security. The key is to match the proper IPR mechanisms with specific conditions, and to manage them effectively and efficiently to promote innovative research, technology transfer, wealth creation, and overall societal benefit.”

The authors outline some pathways for  supporting “the sensible introduction and diffusion of new agricultural practices and technologies” which include:

  • encouraging enforcement of national laws that comply with TRIPS
  • proactive access to modern biotech (including patent pools and open source licensing)
  • collaboration (including a supportive community of IPR practitioners!)
  • continued building of IP portfolios by national agricultural research institutions.

This is a great opinion piece, looking forward to reading more results from the studies from Washington State University in this area.

FREE Access to The Journal of Technology Transfer until end of Nov 2010

Access is FREE online to the Journal of Technology Transfer until 30th November 2010.  Visit the following link for more details: http://www.springer.com/business+%26+management/journal/10961

According to the webiste:

The Journal of Technology Transfer, the Official Journal of the Technology Transfer Society, provides an international forum for the exchange of ideas that enhance and build an understanding of the practice of technology transfer. In particular, it emphasizes research on management practices and strategies for technology transfer.

I choose a couple of articles from the most recent listings that I thought might be of interest:

But hurry! The offer will end soon!!

(thanks to Victoria Henson-Apollonio for sending me the link)

Technology transfer in sub-Saharan Africa, IPRs, development and the WIPO Agenda

I should have referenced this item some months ago, but it slipped my attention when it was published back in August on IP Watch.  (I think I was probably off on holiday!)  “The Relationship Between IP, Technology Transfer, and Development“.  Today I spotted the item cross posted on other blogs (thanks CTA and Zunia!)

The author, Cheikh Kane writes:

“In order to better understand the link between intellectual property rights, technology transfer and development, an analysis was recently conducted of the expectations of developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, of technology transfer.”

Interestingly he notes:

“The analysis shows that in order to foster development through technology, it is necessary to put into place an efficient and flexible intellectual property rights system and to promote local innovation.”

I wasn’t able to find the text of the analysis he spoke about, possibly it was in French originally?  If anyone has the link I would be grateful if they could add it to the comments section.

For more info on the WIPO Development agenda visit “Development Agenda for WIPO“.  Including details of the 45 adopted recommendations.

The author sums up by saying:

“The adoption of a Development Agenda by WIPO has to integrate the notion that intellectual property should serve first and foremost the promotion and protection of local innovation. The international intellectual property system as it is devised is not doing enough to support local inventiveness.”

Brand extension: videos from Africa Rice Center (formerly WARDA)

The journal Development in Practice recently published a paper by Paul Van Mele, Jonas Wanvoeke, and Esperance Zossou, Enhancing rural learning, linkages and institutions: the rice videos in Africa.  A peer review version can be downloaded at:  http://www.warda.org/warda/DIP%20Video%20in%20Africa.pdf

Africa Rice Center (formerly WARDA) has built a strong brand over the years, and has established a reputation for delivering high quality products to farmers across Africa.  These videos extend the brand identity by delivering high quality and accessible training to further support farmers.  Capitalising on the trust already gained, the “value” of the brand can reach beyond research alone and ensure more effective technology transfer.

By way of an introduction to this work, the preamble observes that:

Africa Rice Center (WARDA) facilitated the development and translation of 11 rice videos. From 2005 to 2009, WARDA partners translated them into more than 30 African languages. Open-air video presentations enhanced learning, experimentation, confidence, trust, and group cohesion among rural people. The videos strengthened capacities of more than 500 organisations and hundreds of thousands of farmers. WARDA’s integrated rural learning approach also helped women to access new markets and credit. Learning videos allow for unsupervised learning; unleash local creativity and experimentation; facilitate institutional innovations; and improve social inclusion of the poor, youth, and women.

The authors also observe that:

Across the board, the potential role of radio and video in strengthening agricultural innovation systems has not been fully explored. In this article, we present on-going work by Africa Rice Center (WARDA) and partners. Attention is paid to the ways in which video complements rural radio in enhancing learning, linkages, and institutions: the three pillars of an innovation system (see also http://www.warda.org/warda/p3-rurallearning.asp). We conclude by addressing some issues of social exclusion arising with the use of media, and we present potential ways to overcome these.

The paper is a must-read for those seeking to use media to effectively support agricultural development, and it is appropriate that Paul Van Mele, AfricaRice’s Learning and Innovation Systems Specialist, was honored with the 2009 CGIAR Outstanding Communications Award.  Paul’s work was also recognized this year by the International Visual Communication Association, which highly commended the video Cashing in with Parboiled Rice in the category of the Industry Award for Effective Communication.

More information on the video library can be found at: http://www.warda.org/warda/guide-video.asp

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

Of groundnuts, watersheds and technology transfer

This week I spent three days on a farm owned by Nigel and Janey Leakey near Nakuru in Kenya’s Rift Valley.  They run a small company (Leldet) that grows and distributes certified seed, and the recent droughts led them to the conclusion that if they did not irrigate they would not be able to expand.  You can read about them at:

http://www.agra-alliance.org/content/story/detail/1035 (the last story on the page)

The topography of their farm and the surrounding land suggested that a small scale watershed management project might enable them – and the s/h farmers surrounding their farm – to store runoff for irrigation in the dry season.  With the support of ICRISAT, Sefia Jetha, an agronomy Masters candidate from HEPH-Condorcet University, is in the process of conducting a watershed study using techniques that were developed and used with great success in India. 

This followed on the heels of my visit to Malawi, where small seed growers had expressed concern as to how they would shell certified groundnut seed (this must be done with care, as broken seed will not germinate).  In all probability a mechanical groundnut sheller provided by ICRISAT and developed in India will be deployed.

And the WASA team has been working closely with several Indian seed companies to evaluate hybrids developed in India in collaboration with national agricultural research systems and local seed companies. If these prove successful, they can be released and then commercialized across the region as a result of the regional variety release system approved by ECOWAS.

Technology transfer between India and Africa is a happening thing, especially in the agricultural sector;  these are just three of many examples, and yesterday I heard about an upcoming forum on the subject:

EMRC Announces Inaugural Africa-India Economic Mission

EMRC promotes the development of Africa’s agricultural sector with Africa-India exchange .


The Economic Mission aims to foster partnerships between Africa and India in the sectors of Agricultural Research, Soil and Water Conservation and Management, Biofuels, Fresh Produce Management, Knowledge Parks, Seed Value Chain and Equipment.  

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

Father of Grass Root Innovation: Prof. Anil K. Gupta and His Ideologies

Special thanks to Sahida Kamri who is a blogger on the Gen-X blog – a blog created by the budding IP and technology management professionals of India. Bloggers are students of PGD-IPTMA Course, National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), India.  The following post was written and submitted by Sahida Kamri for the CAS-IP blog:

Father of Grass Root Innovation: Prof. Anil K. Gupta and His Ideologies

Prof. Anil K. GuptaProfessor Anil Kumar Gupta, a senior faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad is successfully blending knowledge of grassroot innovators with corporate houses.  He is the executive vice-chairman of NIF (National Innovation Foundation).  In an interview with The Wall Street Journal | India he talks about cross-pollination work of grassroots innovations, ideas on globalization, technology commons and his experience with big industries as well as Government.  The persistent and dedicated work of NIF under his leadership has more than 120,000 grass root innovations and traditional knowledge practices.  These are documented from fields such as agriculture, animal and human medicines, herbal drugs, mechanical devices, rural technologies from the informal and unorganized sector of rural and urban India.  Prof. Anil K Gupta’s contribution for grass root innovators and rural people has been also recently discussed in the blog Gen – X ideas on IP.

How did it start?

In 1986, after a tour of Bangladesh Prof. Anil K Gupta seriously thought about helping poor rural people.  He worked hard to create recognition and awareness around the importance of grass root innovators in the formal system.  He also took the initiative to document traditional knowledge, some of which is now on the edge of extinction.  This vision developed into the National Innovation Foundation. Established under the Department of Science and technology, Government of India on 28th February, 2000, the main aim being to scout, document and scale sustainable innovations, and to help innovators from the informal sector get their products to market through incubation and business development.  NIF helps in protecting Intellectual Property rights of grass-root innovators and documents their various innovations and traditional practices.  It also helps in the technology transfer of suitable technologies.  57 technologies have been already licensed.  The former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam has been a great supporter and guide to NIF since its inception and highly appreciates Prof. A.K. Gupta’s efforts.  A database of innovations and medicinal plants in various languages is maintained by NIF.  Two appendages of NIF are SRISTI and GIAN which provide complete support to it in all its activities.

Shodh Yatra – A journey to reach knowledge

More than ten years ago Prof. Anil K Gupta learned about a creative idea called “Shodh Yatra”, one he has continued.  Shodh Yatra is a journey on foot through the remote areas of India for the exploration of knowledge, creativity and innovations at grassroots.  The main aim of the journey is to understand and document traditional knowledge and grassroots innovations that have not only simplified the lives of men, women and farm workers but have also significantly contributed towards the conservation of bio-diversity. Prof. Gupta used to conduct Shodh Yatra twice in a year especially in summer and winter to share knowledge across rural India. Our Organization NAARM (National Academy of Agricultural Research Management) with NIF had organized Shodh Yatra (we called it Gyan Shodh) for students of PGD IPTMA (Post Graduate Diploma in Intellectual Property and Technology Management). It was a great experience and learning for us, the report of the Gyan Shodh is available on the internet. His work and noble thought inspired us to join the Shodh Yatra.

India is really blessed having a son like Prof. Anil K. Gupta.  He is a true role model to be followed by the youth of nation.  His many ideologies such as respect to traditional practices as well as grass root innovations, belief in sustainable technologies etc match with that of the Father of Nation – Mahatma Gandhi.  He works for India but his essence of work has spread globally.

Fair Tracing; new branding and tech transfer possibilities?

Fair Tracing Project Blog
This was a project I heard about whilst listening to a podcast this morning.  It’s called “Fair Tracing” — a research project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the UK.  And, as the play on words suggests, the idea is linked to the Fair Trade model of trade.

 The aim of the project is to:

“help bridge the digital divide between Northern consumers and Southern producers by using tracing technology to enhance the Fair Trade model of trade”

It’s not hard to imagine a number of possible benefits if applied to an agricultural development context.  This kind of branding could be used to provide assurances on the quality of seed for example.  Or as a channel for technology transfer by providing latest updates about inputs, storage, pests etc.  Market prices could even be added, as the data can be amended at any time.  And this is an aside to its intended use to support Fair Trade which is a quickly growing consumer category.

How does the system work?  Using digital tracing technology that, according to the blog enables an individual product to be:

“given a unique identity and tracked throughout the value chain from producer to consumer. The information that may be attached to such a “tagged” product is virtually limitless, beginning with details of the product’s date and cost of creation, as well as its individual creator and his/her working environment and pay, through the various steps of its transport to the eventual point-of-sale to the consumer. At each stage of the product’s journey, information may be added and/or edited and, if the information is stored digitally on the internet, may be of various multimedia types. The ability to access this rich information at the point-of-sale will empower the consumer to make an informed comparison between competing products before finalising his/her purchase.”

So far precise details have not been determined, and case studies are to be conducted to determine what form the data, storage and retrieval could take. Their blog includes publications related to the project.

IP case studies from four agricultural research institutions in developing countries


The National Partners Initiative (NPI) of CAS-IP has published this week a compilation of 4 working papers entitled: “Institutionalization of Intellectual Property Management: Case Studies from four Agricultural Research Institutions in Developing Countries”.  The full text can be viewed by clicking on the lead link above. 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 case studies have been prepared as four working papers. The working papers are on the following topics:

Intellectual Property Management Regime in the Indian National Agricultural Research Systems
(R. Kalpana Sastry, India)

This case study presents an overview of the changing environment for public research organizations in the Indian Agricultural Research System with respect to intellectual property management. In its commitment to cater to its broader societal objectives, the system has been challenged with growing sovereignty and restrictions on the sharing of germplasm, privatization of knowledge, and pressures to reduce demands on public finances through the commercialization of research products. Starting with a review of the relevant legal and policy documents to understand the background of the obligations at national and at the international level, followed by a brief review of the role and functions played by some statutory agencies in India, the implications for the National Agricultural Research System were studied. Against the realization of need for IP policy for the large system, the provisions and governance model of the new IP policy of the national agricultural organization like the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was analyzed. Then the implementation of guidelines now in place for two constituent institutes Project Directorate of Poultry (PDP) and Directorate of Rice Research (DRR), animal- based and crop-based institutes respectively, were studied in detail from the IP policy perspective. The study highlights on the implementation of guidelines, structural adjustments in decision making activities in IP management at institutes and at understanding the specific issues of IP management relevant to the research mandate of these institutes.

Establishment of Plant Breeders’ Rights System in Tanzania: Achievements and Challenges
(Patrick Ngwediagi, Tanzania)

The study is on establishment of plant breeders’ rights system in Tanzania: achievements and challenges seeks to review appropriateness of the current plant breeders’ rights system in Tanzania and its contribution to an effective sui generis system, and attempts to formulate an appropriate model in line with the TRIPS Agreement. The results indicate a need for a benchmark review of process of activities to be useful towards the creation and operationalization of a sui generis system. The involvement of the stakeholders in this exercise in Tanzania proved to be very useful exercise and should be continued as many other developing countries develop models to suit the needs in their niche areas. The findings suggest a strong need of such actions to enable policy makers take prudent decisions while complying with the TRIPs agreement. Issues of benefit sharing and access to biological resources especially in PVP context need to evolve if the IP protection systems are to bring the needed changes for the stakeholders.

A Review of the Nigerian System of Intellectual Property
(Victor M. Ibigbami and Christopher U. Orji, Nigeria)

Nigeria is taking steps to comply with the new IP regime ushered in by the WTO TRIPS and supported by African Union (AU). The issues such as Plant Variety Protection (PVP) and patent for microorganisms are technological in nature and the country should exercise the sui generis option provided in the TRIPS agreement to develop suitable laws. It is necessary that such laws may have instruments to be able to be used beyond the country’s existing IP framework like through the aegis of AU Model Law. This study also points to the need to amend the National Crop Varieties and Livestock Breeds Registration and Release Committee Decree 33 of 1987 in Nigeria to provide space for Plant Variety Protection (PVP), Animal Breeders Rights, and Farmers’ Rights. The Committee is currently administered by the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) in the Ministry of Science and Technology and institutional mechanism should be put in place. Analysis of two grants relating to biotechnological related inventions and consequent efforts for licensing the technology indicate the need for regulation of such inventions in terms of best practices methods. Providing strong legal mechanisms for biotechnological inventions through National Biotechnology Law may lead to institutionalizing the norms for biosafety through institutions like National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA). This will help regulate research on microorganisms in terms of IP creation, benefit sharing and on biopharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals which the patent law presently does not address. It is envisaged that such measures would lead to increased investment in technology development and the resulting products can better the lives of the people of Nigeria.

Establishing a Technology Transfer Office in an Academic Institution in a Developing Country: Experience of Moi University
(Antony S. Mbayaki, Kenya)

The study relates to the experience of Moi University (in Eldoret Kenya) on the establishment of the first technology transfer office in a university or public research institution in Kenya. This study indicates the efforts of the policy makers leading to the establishment of the office at the institutional level. Nuances in the process of establishment, the challenges that faced and continue to open up, the manner of countering and overcoming have been discussed. The success and the roadblocks during the process serve as vital lessons for several other organizations that are now in the process of establishing Technology Transfer Office (TTO) in academic institutions especially in Africa. The study indicates that the benefits accrued through such offices placed in institutions of higher learning are enormous. If technology transfer has to be disseminated to reach to end users in a climate of ‘win-win’ situation, it is necessary to institutionalize the technology transfer in all institutes. Since the provisions in law have to be actualized and enforced, TTOs will have a major role in overseeing that potential and actual through sound IP management reach all stakeholders.

Post written by Karine Malgrand     consultant to CAS-IP

NEW! Post Graduate Diploma in Intellectual Property and Technology Management in Agriculture (PGD-IPTMA)

The news that NAARM, the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management  has launched a specialised course in IP in India was reported on the SpicyIP blog this week.  The blog reports that:

“The course seeks to create a pool of “bridge professionals” who are equipped to develop IP assets in the agricultural sector by integrating agricultural research developments with industry needs, and strategically leveraging these assets for technology dissemination in the agri-food sector.”

For more information you can visit the relevant pages on NAARMs website.

CAS-IP would like to extend special congratulations to NAARM on this important announcement.  We have had the pleasure of working with the course director, Dr Kalpana Sastry, who is an active member of the National Partners Initiative.  Congratulations Kalpana!

IPRs; a barrier to technology transfer?

This article was on SciDev.net today – it’s a Q&A session with Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The article opens:

“de Boer says that getting technology transfer policies right must be one of four central planks of climate policy (See ‘UN climate chief calls for green technology revolution’).”

Whilst this article is specifically about Climate Change policy, parallels to our work in agricultural development could easily be made.  For example the answers put much emphasis on the increased need for partnerships which is something we are hearing a lot about in the CGIAR.   Of specific interest were the following two questions:

How big a barrier to technology transfer are intellectual property rights?
Many developing countries mention it as a major barrier. If we can think about creating mechanisms [in Copenhagen] that make it possible to buy down the intellectual property rights of some new technologies … — it would be an important step forward.
… we need to design mechanisms that make joint research and development between rich and poor countries possible. Both China and India have become major producers [of renewable sources of energy] so it’s not a matter of all the technology being in the North and none of it being in the South: it’s more a matter of finding affordable ways for developing countries to get access to that technology
Are you disappointed with the rate of progress of the technology transfer negotiations?
… there’s a broad realisation that without an advance on technology cooperation, we are just not going to get a result and that is making everybody take this issue much more seriously and look for real ways of advancing it. “

I am a bit confused as to what exactly was meant by creation of mechanisms to “buy down the intellectual property rights”.  If anyone knows please let me know so I can update the post!