Of all the factors driving innovation, organisations across a spectrum of industries find three Cs in common— curiosity, commitment and creativity. At the 2021 Clarivate Virtual Innovation Forum for the Middle East, Africa and Russia region which took place in May, speakers, panellists and moderators emphasised these factors and the power they have to drive innovation and an organisation’s success, particularly in the Intellectual Property (IP) realm.
Featuring 30 thought leaders, the Forum examined IP as a driver of competitive advantage, business growth and economic development. The Forum highlighted how organisations, academic institutions and governments in the region can best integrate IP into their innovation strategies.
Here are the top 10 takeaways from the Forum for organisations in Middle East, Africa and Russia:
- IP fosters business growth and competitive advantage: The keynote session featuring Dr. Kevin E. Cullen, VP of Innovation at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) emphasised the importance of IP in fostering innovation and how IP rights are important to support growth, sustain competitive advantage and contribute to our shared progress. Dr. Cullen highlighted how KAUST is driving innovation through IP by:
- creating IP through research translation,
- creating IP users through entrepreneurship,
- building IP partnerships through industry engagement, and
- fostering IP commercialisation.
- Invest in digital transformation: Digital transformation is not just a capital investment but of creating competitive differentiation, empowering people, and streamlining processes. In the panel discussion on the opportunities and challenges faced by IP offices, Dr. Habip, President of the Turkish Patent Institute highlighted the positive impact of digital transformation in Turkey, as Turkey saw a 45% jump in trademark filings in 2020 as a result of user-friendly digital platforms. Digitisation has also slowly transformed the way IP professionals interact with clients, IP offices and their own internal records. Email, digital dictation, online filing and IP management systems have all reduced the use of paper and manual processes as pointed out by Ahu Guneyli, Partner, Erdem, Kaya & Partners / SCH-Legal, Turkey and Ahmad Saleh, Partner, Head of Patents & Designs (R&D and Innovation), Al Tamimi & Company, United Arab Emirates.
- IP should be leveraged as a ‘power tool’ for a nation’s economic growth: Over a dual presentation, Dr. Nefissa Chakroun, IP & Innovation Program Manager, at Qatar National Research Fund, Qatar and Ms. Menna-t-allah Morsy Hussein El-Kotamy, International Cooperation Coordinator, Academy of Scientific Research and Technology of Egypt reinforced two things: A) IP is important for the economic development of a country, where IP rights have economical value like any other property, and B) federal funding agencies are using IP in assessing research proposals from academic and research institutes.
- Collaboration and education are key to achieving carbon goals: Touching upon a delicate yet vital topic of Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) under the umbrella of sustainability, Dr. Marc Vermeersh, Executive Director at Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI) and Mike Brady, Chief Commercial Officer and Board Director & Secretary at Trillion LLC said that industries, government and civil society need to work together to achieve our carbon goals. Dr. Vermeersh called for advancing climate change education amongst the younger generation to provide a necessary foundation for them tackle the complex issue of climate change. If we look at conventional energy companies, the team at SIBUR, led by Mariia Bogomolova, Head of IP, highlighted hydrogen technologies and efficient production technologies as the emerging trends.
- Data is the new oil: Sean Poulley, VP of Product at Clarivate showed us how and why “data is the new oil,” when seen with an IP lens. We saw how Clarivate is taking the lead in shaping the future of IP information and insights to accelerate innovation and mitigate risk. Clarivate is enabling customers to unlock the full potential of IP by innovating faster, protecting and managing IP and reducing the total cost of operating.
- Academic research programs should align with industry: During a dual presentation from Dr. Amer Al Hinai, Associate Professor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies & Research (DVC-PSR) at Sultan Qaboos University for Postgraduate Studies & Research and Prof. Ahmed Murad, Associate Provost for Research at UAE University, both echoed the importance of aligning research programs with industries. Prof. Ahmed discussed three steps to select strategic research areas:
- Align research with national innovation priority areas
- Focus on current technology trends, for example ‘industry 4.0’
- Prioritise research areas focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Measuring the readiness of an innovation is crucial when bringing an idea to market: Dr. Maged Al Ghoneima, Executive Director, iHUB, Ain Shams University, Egypt walked us through the technology and manufacturing readiness levels of the technology transfer process. He stressed that new technologies do not come into the market overnight; the journey starts with an idea and ends with a product or service through evaluations at different readiness levels.
- Smart IP management systems can reduce costs: Herman van Schalkwyk, Partner, Spoor and Fisher, South Africa highlighted the importance of smart IP management system and how standardisation in operational processes across the organisation can reduce costs. We also had an opportunity to look at worldwide litigation trends in the petrochemical industry, illustrating oppositions on patents related to hydrotreating, paraffins, distillates and feedstocks.
- We must strike the right balance between IP protection and trade secrets: Zayd Alathari at Norton Rose Fulbright recommended maintaining a balance between IP protection and trade secrets by evaluating the value of patent filing and portfolio through a review process, including analysing the impact of patents and costs associated with filing, prosecution and maintenance of patents.
- Patents play an important role in the academic technology transfer process: There is no doubt that patent monetisation has emerged as a promising cash-generator mechanism. Dr. Iyad Alzaharnah, Director General – Innovation & Technology Transfer, King Fahd University of Petroleum Minerals (KFUPM), Saudi Arabia and John Taylor McEntire, Director – Industry Development and Knowledge Transfer (IDKT), Qatar Foundation Research, Development & Innovation, Qatar shared their thoughts on developing effective licensing strategies while underlining the considerations required to become an entrepreneurial university. They discussed the fundamental role of patents in academia and provided examples of technology transfer and commercialisation.
Our key takeaway is that IP does not end with registering a patent or trademark. IP should be included in all elements of an organisation’s strategy and a nation’s economic growth if they want to succeed. To achieve this, businesses and talent should work hard to create and maintain an innovative culture – one that is curious, committed and creative.