Under the masterful guidance of our North African hub leader, Nagla Rizk, six NERGs are currently engaged in research spanning North Africa. Our AUC hub is the lead on research into economics, innovation, and metrics (among other topics). Nagla has been with Open AIR since its evolution from the ACA2K (Africa Copyright Access to Knowledge) group in 2011 and is now looking in depth into the issue of how to measure innovation in a manner that accurately reflects what is happening on the ground in most, if not all, of the African continent.
How the world evolves in the next decade (and beyond) may be dependent upon a new-age movement re-instilling age-old skills: the maker movement. In my ongoing research into the maker movement in Canada and South Africa (see earlier posts here and here), I recently co-hosted a workshop in Ottawa with attendees from the University of Ottawa, representatives of makerspaces in the community, and those with knowledge about makerspaces elsewhere in the world.
In October 2010, Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda, recorded a rap song titled: “Do You Want Another Rap?” as part of his re-election campaign to capture the imagination of young voters. The song was a huge success and may have played a part in his reelection. When Museveni applied for a copyright registration of the song, however, members of the Ankole community filed an objection stating that the song was derived from Ankole folklore. While the Registrar of Copyrights in Uganda eventually allowed Museveni’s copyright application for registration, this case triggered Dr. Anthony Conrad K. Kakooza’s interest in the area of traditional cultural expressions (TCEs) and whether TCEs should be recognized within the domain of intellectual property (IP) law.
Open AIR aims to understand how open collaborative innovation can help businesses scale up and seize the opportunities of the global knowledge economy. This question is important in a wide range of sectors, including agriculture. With the rise of data-driven innovation, facilitated by “digital” or “computational” agriculture, stakeholders need to know whether conventional intellectual property management strategies or more open collaborative approaches will have the most positive impacts on society in both developed and developing regions of the world.
Le travail panafricain comprend plusieurs défis, entre autre la grandeur du continent, sa diversité, les différences juridiques, et la complexité des langues. Les défis sont particulièrement marqués pour l’innovation africaine. Il y a deux organismes régionaux dans le domaine de la propriété intellectuelle, en plus de l’Organisation mondiale de la propriété intellectuelle, ce qui souligne la diversité et les divisions linguistiques et régionales. Pour Open AIR, un réseau de recherche qui travaille dans de différents domaines de l’innovation et la propriété intellectuelle, on rencontre plusieurs défis à cause de cette diversité.
Just last month, I had the opportunity to participate in the 13th WIPO-WTO Colloquium for Teachers of Intellectual Property held at World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland from 13 to 24 June, 2016. I am beyond thankful for this scholarship and enjoyed an intense two week programme, covering eighteen substantive topics touching on all areas of intellectual property (IP) law. There were thirty-nine experts from WIPO, WTO, WHO, UNFCCC, UPOV, NGOs ,and industry who took part in the Colloquium as speakers and I was among twenty-six participants selected from approximately 160 applicants from developing countries around the world.
Creativity is a key ingredient in innovation, and the University of Pretoria’s (UP) makerspace screams it from the moment one arrives; the walls are brightly painted orange and green, there are several large tables surrounded by equally bright chairs, and along the back and side walls lay computers, makerbot 3D printers, and, of course, a coffee machine. Currently, UP is the only South African university with a ‘formal’ makerspace, although many, including the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University, are working to establish their own official makerspaces.
Some people tour Europe’s finest vineyards others tour Australia’s sweetest surf spots—I tour South Africa’s pioneer makerspaces; part of the growing global maker movement. The movement is a culmination of people becoming “makers” (someone who uses their personal abilities to create anything from mechanical or electrical to visual or musical) and spaces becoming makerspaces (an interdisciplinary area stimulating people to create by providing resources and idea sharing).
Last month, Open AIR launched our inaugural case study workshop at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT), part of Strathmore University’s Law School in Kenya, and one of Open AIR’s hubs. The workshop sought to provide successful case study participants with an opportunity to present their proposals and brainstorm with their colleagues.
In the first week of April 2016, the Open African Innovation Research and Training (Open AIR) network held a three-day workshop at our Nairobi hub, Strathmore University. The workshop included the Open AIR team and was primarily organized to bring together all the successful case study researchers in order to review, refine, and brainstorm about their upcoming research. There was also significant activity on Twitter, which can be read about here. All the case studies that Open AIR is funding fall under at least one of our major research themes: high technology hubs, informal sector innovation, indigenous entrepreneurship, and metrics and policies.
The global South is full of significant, diverse biological and genetic resources. It’s also home to most of the world’s indigenous communities. This is why developing countries are sensitive about protecting their genetic resources and traditional knowledge.
Hani Morsi, an Open AIR Post-Doctoral fellow at the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) in Cairo, gave a seminar last week entitled “Beyond openness: Investigating the success factors of open approaches to collaboration and innovation”. This was part of the Brown Bag seminar series of AUC’s School of Business.
In the midst of two decades of TRIPS and three decades of openness, more than 400 delegates from over 50 countries converged in New Delhi for the 4th Global Congress on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest (GCIP). Participants ranged from established academics to students and activists in the field of intellectual property (IP). Over a period of three days, GCIP delegates met at the National Law University to discuss a host of topics under four broad themes: Users’ Rights, Openness, IP and Development, and Access to Medicines.
In the recently concluded ‘African Ministerial Conference: Intellectual Property for an Emerging Africa’ organized in part by WIPO (here), one cannot help but think that all roads leading to creativity and innovation are paved with intellectual property (IP) laws and institutions. Put differently, the level of creativity and innovation in a society is dependent solely on how we tinker with and enforce IP laws. This ‘IP parochialism’, as I call it, is manifest in the conference program. Of course, the response would be that the conference was solely about IP and as such there was no need to look beyond IP. This is an erroneous view.
The Advancement of Training and Research for Intellectual Property (ATRIP) Conference provides a yearly opportunity for international experts and other academics in the field of intellectual property (IP) to come together and exchange current research. The set-up of ATRIP’s conference enables for ease of networking with similar speakers separated into common sessions. Tana Pistorius, ATRIP President, and her team of organizers, did a superb job in ensuring a diversity of, yet connection between, sessions. Sessions covered a range of topics from new ideas for leveraging traditional knowledge (or “innovation knowledge” as Susy Frankel stated), to plant breeder’s rights, to diversity, art and culture in IP and innovation.