Tag Archives: tech transfer

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!

Reversal of the traditional flow of innovation?

This Boston Globe article builds an argument that “innovation’s centre of gravity” is set to move further from developed nations and closer to poorer ones.  It uses current examples of mobile technology innovations, until now unknown in the US & Europe, that are building a financial sector in areas of India populated by those living (until now) in a purely cash economy.  These innovations are unlocking new services and stimulating the market.  Big technology providers are taking notice and are reacting by moving research hubs into the developing world.

The article quotes:

“C.K. Prahalad, a business professor at the University of Michigan, has called [it] “the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid” – the vast aggregate purchasing power locked away in the 4 billion people who make up the world’s poor… companies are confronting the unique challenge of making high-tech products cheaply enough to make a profit. In some cases, this means shifting jobs for talented designers and engineers to the developing world – not just to save labor costs, but in order to better understand the markets they are now trying to reach.

“Developing markets offer the best opportunity for global firms to discover what is likely to be ‘next practice,’ as contrasted with today’s best practice,” Prahalad has written. “The low end is a new source of innovation.””

The start of a reversed trend in TT flow?

Increasing access to biotechnology results

The link today is to a short 4-page report from a symposium that was held in April 2008 at Wageningen entitled “Reconsidering Intellectual Property Policies”.  I wanted to blog a couple of extracts to tempt you to read the entire report!

“Intellectual property protection is caught between the need for valorisation of research outcomes, and the wide availability of these outcomes.  … [the workshop has] emphasized the complexity of the IP debate and the various approaches that can be taken to increase the ‘freedom to operate’ for researchers in developing countries  … the patent discussion needs to be placed in a wider context. Liability issues, weak infrastructure and a lack of control over production processes at most public research institutes in the South seriously weaken their credibility in the eyes of patent holders willing to provide technologies via humanitarian licenses. High transaction costs and the difficulty of finding useful technologies – both patented and non-patented – further complicate the access to technology.  As such, it became clear that access to intellectual property is only a precondition for a wider strategy in which capacity building and institutional partnership can truly contribute to the development in the ‘South’”

The report summarises discussions on:
• Liability; bottleneck for the patent holders
• Lowering the transaction costs
• Open source for fundamental research
• Access to non-patented technology

Pertinent to IP professionals working in the agricultural development environment!

Research advances in Africa not reaching farmers in the field

This is an article that appeared on SciDev.Net at the beginning of the month after the African Green Revolution Conference in Oslo.  The item was entitled “Agricultural developments ‘failing to reach farmers’”.  Chief Executive of the Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation Florence Wambugu was quoted as talking of the “need to plug the gap between the lab and the field”.  The article touches on the way some organisations are hoping to tackle this problem.  Please note that since the article first came out there have been a couple of interesting comments left by readers – well worth a read!

Food aid, food crises and stimulation of functioning market places

There is a blog out there I was reading today called the “Private Sector Development Blog” (strapline; “a market approach to development thinking”).    They have a great line up of writers for their blog and given the new market driven attitude to development (from donors such as Gates) I expect to consult this blog more regularly to hear their take on things.  Anyway, that wasn’t the main reason for my post today.  The specific article I have linked to was looking at a report published by Care International this month calling for reform of the food aid system.  One of the points raised in the report deals with investment in agriculture – and it mentions the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme of which one of the main aims is to “increase agricultural research and systems to disseminate appropriate new technologies, and increase the support given to help farmers to adopt them.”  See article http://www.africafiles.org/article.asp?ID=18554  and NEPAD site http://www.nepad.org for more details of this initiative.  Those who deal with technology transfer in this area might like to keep an eye on this for developments.  Before uploading this post, I showed it to my colleague Peter Bloch, who is a TT specialist, and he had the following comments:

“The report “makes the very reasonable argument that more aid money ought to be spent helping prevent food disasters rather than simply responding to emergencies once they arise” and PSD Blog goes on to observe that political structures in developing countries are a critical factor in the success of food aid projects. The CG’s Change Management initiative has generated a number of reports and opinions indicating that in order for the CG to meets its mission goals it will need to be more effective in engaging with the private sector.  This is equally true of any attempt to develop long-term solutions to food shortages.  One model for this is the West Africa Seed Alliance which seeks to stimulate the development of market driven distribution chains for agricultural products.  Long term approaches to food shortages will need to engage ag research agencies, public organizations such as FAO and the private sector (e.g., seed, fertilizer and  investment companies) and the challenge then becomes the design of PPPs which can serve disparate agendas and, at the same time, build sustainable food supply chains.”