Open A.I.R. has so far engaged in two types of research: Case Studies and Future Foresighting. (View our Research Ethics Policy.) The resaerch has resulted in two publications: Innovation and Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa (UCT Press, 2014), and Knowledge and Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future (Open A.I.R., 2013), both of which are freely available for download under Creative Commons licences.

Case Studies

The case studies completed (with findings published) to date are as follows:

Thematic AreasCase Study Titles

1. From social commons to digital commons: Egypt’s independent music industry

2. Copyright and open scholarship in Kenya


3. Rethinking the failure of African states to examine and collate patent applications

4. IP in relation to biofuel technology adoption in Mozambique

5. IP strategies and bioenergy innovation in Egypt


6. Geographical indications (GIs) and open development in Ethiopia and Ghana

7. Feasibility of communal trademarks for textile and leather products in Nigeria

Informal Mechanisms

8. Innovation transfers between formal and informal sectors in Ugandan automotive engineering

The Traditional Knowledge (TK) Commons

9. The Kukula Healers and their TK commons, South Africa

10. The policy context for a TK commons in Kenya

IP from Publicly Funded Research

11. Researcher perspectives on IP and generating value from publicly funded research in Botswana

12. Effects of the IP regime on generating value from publicly funded research: a study of two South African universities

13. IP and university-industry linkages in Ethiopia

Personnel based in 14 African countries (listed below) are directly involved in the project (see the Team page for participant profiles):

North AfricaWest AfricaEast AfricaSouthern Africa

Future Foresighting

The Open A.I.R. foresight research has generated three scenarios for future interactions in Africa among IP, open/collaborative creativity and innovation for development. The foresight research data collection was conducted via open-ended, semi-structured qualitative interviews with key actors. In addition, foresighting exercises were conducted at Open A.I.R. researcher meetings in Cape Town, Nairobi, Dakar, Rio, Washington and Geneva.

For the foresight interviews, most of the interviewees were residents of Africa or diasporic Africans although a number of non-African global leaders were also interviewed to provide wider context.

The foresighting work has been inextricably linked to the case studies. The case studies were designed to identify existing problems and opportunities in relation to the six Open A.I.R. research themes, while the foresighting was designed to generate future scenarios, for the year 2035, in relation to the problems and opportunities elucidated by the case studies.

Foresighting techniques are not entirely new to research into IP or into development, but before this project they had not yet been intensively applied to exploration of the intersection between IP and development. This component of the Open A.I.R. research methodology has thus been integral both to answering the project’s research questions and to broadening and building the capacity of the researchers in the Open A.I.R. network.