Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
THE country’s institutions of Higher Learning and Research have been challenged to protect their inventions and researches under intellectual property laws.
Speaking during an Intellectual Property Roving Seminar for Academic and Research Institutions in Bulawayo on Monday, the Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO), Mr Fernando Dos Santos urged Zimbabwean universities to take up the use of ARIPO system like most foreign universities are doing.
The two-day seminar was held at the National University of Science and Technology under the theme: “Fostering Creativity and Innovation for Economic Growth and Development in Africa”.
Mr Dos Santos said the most active institution in Zimbabwe is the Harare Institute of Technology which has filed the highest number of applications at ARIPO, with six patents and seven utility models.
Nust has one utility model while the University of Zimbabwe has three patents and Bindura University has one patent.
“This is how our universities are using the ARIPO system to protect their research and innovation results. We believe that Zimbabwean universities and research institutions can do better than this. This seminar is intended to enhance the intellectual property (IP) protection awareness.”
Mr Dos Santos said as ARIPO, they were aware that there is a lot of creativity and innovation going on in academic and research institutions yet the benefits of this creativity, innovation and inventiveness are not fully realised or adequately rewarded due to lack of awareness on the important role that intellectual property plays in rewarding and promoting creativity and innovation.
Stakeholders were urged to embark on serious awareness drives that inform staff and students and the general public of the value and importance of protecting IP as well as encourage the utilisation of the IP system by researchers and inventors so as to promote and facilitate inventiveness and innovation.
“Such creativity and innovation can result in creating employment and businesses that subsequently contribute to economic development,” said Mr Dos Santos.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Director of TechnoPark, Dr Eli Mtetwa, Nust acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Samson Sibanda said hosting the seminar was a sign of their quest to improve academic research and innovation as well as build a knowledge-based economy in Zimbabwe.
He said Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) are indispensable for social and economic development.
“In modern economies, innovation is a source of ever increasing productivity. It is thus a source for higher standards of living and an indispensable tool for poverty reduction.
“The reason why we have intellectual property law as a social and economic policy is to encourage innovation and to provide a framework within which an idea may be brought from a very incipient stage through to a market reality.
“For Zimbabwe, this seminar is being held at an opportune time when the country is in the process of reviewing its national development thrust and innovation system, hoping the outcomes will later be used to provide valuable inputs in this new thrust,” he said.
The seminar was hosted by ARIPO, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Intellectual Property Office and Nust’s Technopark Department.