The Sensitization Workshop for Universities, TVETS and Research Institutions on Intellectual Property (IP) organised by the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) drew to a successful close on Friday, 3rd February 2023. The five-day Workshop held in the Senate Chambers saw participating institutions share experiences on Intellectual Property management and commercialisation.
Among the wide range of experiences shared include the establishment of a research model around key thematic
areas that all academic staff and students refer to. This research model is driven by thematic and academic leaders. To mitigate funding challenges bedevilling public universities, this research model is supported by the establishment of defined Financial Independent Centres (FIC). The leaders of these Centres are given full responsibility to work out modalities of self-financing. In these institutions, Intellectual Property management is coordinated by FIC.
Some institutions have also established functional Science and Technology Parks which generate funds and run their own
budgets. They also have a Technology and Innovation Support Centre (TISC) Officer who is in charge of Intellectual Property management. Other institutions shared that they have established Innovation and Incubation Hubs, Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Committees, Intellectual Property Committees and Intellectual Property Policies. They also participate in Innovation Fairs, sensitization trainings and seminars among others.
The institutions also shared challenges they face including a lack of awareness of IP, patenting, registration and commercialisation among staff and students, lack of trust especially in revenue access and sharing between innovators and mother institutions, insufficient funds to innovate and knee-deep bureaucracy between universities, innovators and accelerator institutions.
Despite these challenges, however, a raft of recommendations were made. Key among them was the formulation of a commercialisation policy that will feature the establishment of financial centres responsible for commercialising innovations and products. This would be handy to researchers who may not necessarily be entrepreneurially savvy despite coming up with innovations
A shift in the approach to education where industrialisation is introduced to pupils at an early age was also recommended. This approach, if adopted, will prepare the young for experiences in universities and TVET institutions where innovation is domiciled. Apart from this, KIPI, in collaboration with other institutions, was urged to find ways of conducting trainings on IP to undergraduate students. This would expose and grow them in this era of innovations and inventions.
In order to compete globally, institutions should embed Intellectual Property management in their Performance Contracts. Once this is ratified, it would be easier to monitor and measure how many IPs have been introduced in an institution at a given time. In addition, one of the core functions of KIPI is to promote to the public industrial property information for technological and economic development. Towards achieving this, therefore, it was proposed that, just like the Kenya School of Government, KIPI should come up with a standing schedule of specific courses to sensitize institutions and the public on matters of IP management.
On the issue of mistrust mentioned as a challenge, there was need to break the state of non-disclosure in the sharing of knowledge and information. Other proposals entailed the organisation of internal workshops on IP where KIPI can
provide resource persons, relooking the model of funding and the roles of different actors involved especially in the sharing of proceeds, the development of an IP policy to iron out any emerging issues and the establishment of an IP management office.
Participating institutions were also encouraged to establish TISC for purposes of accessing available databases on IP. Towards this, KIPI invited the institutions to a TISC Conference in May 2023.