The U.S. Mission Geneva cosponsored today’s discussion on IP as a driver for Innovation at the WTO (World Trade Organization). A panel of four expert speakers looked at how IP incentivizes creativity in the arts, business and technology, unshackling human potential to address the world’s many challenges. The event featured four speakers: Carsten Fink, Chief Economist of the World Intellectual Property Organization, Dr. Keith Nurse, Senior Fellow at the University of the West Indies and founder of the CaribbeanTales incubator, Dr. Jonas Pollard, head of the Hemolytics project at the Adolphe Merkle Institute, and Jason Kang, CEO and Co-Founder of Kinnos. The session was moderated by Philip Stevens, Director of Geneva Network.
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In the run up to the 2019 general election, the Indian government has prioritised healthcare delivery and promoting innovation and competitiveness in the country, including in the health and life sciences sector.
To feed into this discussion, Geneva Network organised a half day roundtable in Mumbai to assess the state of play, and also to brainstorm policy reforms that could accelerate progress. The roundtable included 15 thought leaders from Indian think tanks, universities and NGOs, in addition to participation from around 20 individuals from the private sector.
The second panel, moderated by Aman Gupta of Strategic Partners Group, examined the reforms necessary to make India a leading life science investment destination and to promote innovation within the country. The discussion focused on intellectual property reforms, regulation and trade policy, with a particular reference to the lessons from China’s policy reforms.
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Galen Centre’s Azrul Mohd Khalib gives an overview of Malaysia’s Government Use License
In 2017 the Malaysian government issued a Government Use License for a Hepatitis C medicine. Following the recent change of government, Geneva Network in collaboration with local partner the Galen Centre organised a half day round table to assess the impact of this policy and to emphasise the important role of intellectual property rights in facilitating access to, and innovation of, new medicines.
Geneva Network’s Philip Stevens began the day by outling the linkages between innovation, IP and economic development, followed by Azrul Mohd Khalib’s, of the Galen Centre, overview of the timeline of the government use license and its negative impact on various international IP and innovation rankings. This theme was further explored by Chew Phye Keat, past president of the Malaysian Intellectual Property Association, who emphasised the need for predictability and transparency in the deployment of flexibilities in IP law, which is arguably lacking in the Malaysian context.
The Geneva Network delegation visits the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia
Prof. Mark Shchultz of Southern Illinois Law School explained the important role of IP in protecting the market-building investments necessary to launch a medicine in a new country, while Indonesia’s Widya Wihardijono emphasised the importance of IP to pharmaceutical innovation. Ong Mei Ching of cancer access charity, the Max Foundation, concluded by explaining the complexity of getting drugs to patients, particularly in resource-poor settings in Asia.
During the visit to Kuala Lumpur, Philip Stevens of Geneva Network, Azrul Mohd Khalib and Prof. Shcultz also visited the offices of local stakeholders to share views on Malaysian innovation, access and trade issues.
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WIPO DG Francis Gurry makes introductory remarks, next to Geneva Network’s Philip Stevens
As WHO member states gathered in Geneva for the 2018 World Health Assembly, Geneva Network co-ordinated a summit for pro-innovation think tanks and thought leaders from around the world. Thanks are due to the World Intellectual Property Organisation which kindly offered meeting facilities and lunch in its headquarters building.
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry started the day with an overview of the main challenges and opportunities facing the global IP system, and subsequent panelists discussed, amongst other topics, the role of IP in facilitating investment and economic development; the real barriers to access to medicines; IP-related developments in the global trading system, including NAFTA; and a discussion of how IP is being used by entrepreneurs in developing countries to fulfil unmet health needs. While in Geneva, some participants met with country missions to discuss how best to advance pro-innovation policies at the World Health Assembly.
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Prof Sarjiker stresses the importances of well crafted IP legislation for economic development
For South Africa to join the ranks of high-income countries in the longer term it needs to start building a knowledge economy. That means ensuring its frameworks for the protection of intellectual property are of the highest standard, to attract international investment and know-how, and provide certainty to local innovators.
South Africa’s journey to a knowledge economy was the theme of a half day symposium in Johannesburg, co-hosted by Geneva Network and the Free Market Foundation of Southern Africa, attended by a wide range of stakeholders from the private and public sector, academia and the media.
The keynote was delivered by Prof Sadulla Sarjiker, professor of law at Stellenbosch University. Prof Sarjiker shared his concerns about the quality of the draft amendments to the copyright act, which he argued would inflict serious damage on local knowledge industries and scare off foreign investment.
Patrick Kilbride of the Global Intellectual Property Center presented the 2017 edition of its International IP Index. The index benchmarks IP-related laws and their enforcement across 45 countries, allowing policymakers to compare the quality of their institutions with peer countries. South Africa’s entry is here.
Prof Kelly Chibale of the University of Cape Town gave an overview of the importance of IP in his drug development work. IP, he argued, gives certainty to all the disparate players in drug development and commercialisation, while ensuring high standards and quality in manufacturing.
Jetane Charsley of the National IP Management Office stressed the importance of IP for the commercialisation of publicly-funded innovations. South Africa has for some years had technology transfer legislation modelled on the US Bayh Dole Act which has helped both South African universities and companies deliver several useful new products to consumers.
Above all, participants stressed the huge innovative potential of its people. South Africans can drive the country’s transformation to a knowledge economy, but it needs the right policy environment to unlock that potential. A strong framework of intellectual property rights is fundamental.
Many thanks to the Free Market Foundation for their excellent organisation of the event.
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