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Editor-in-Chief,   Anatole Krattiger

Editorial Board

Concept Foundation


Fiocruz, Brazil

bioDevelopments-   Institute

The Policy and Legal Environment for Innovation
Topic Guide for Research Scientists

Why This Topic Is Important

This section covers a full gamut of issues that can shape the national policy and legal environment for innovation and technology transfer. These include the oversight of the courts, legislation over IP protection, ownership, and access, and funding of science and higher education, as well as the need for compliance with international agreements, realistic expectations about the amount of revenues that can come from technology transfer, and the delicate and complex dynamics that can lead regional innovation clusters to succeed or fail. By understanding these issues, you will better understand the nature of the innovation environment within you are working as a scientist, and from the examples of other countries’ experiences you will draw inspiration for how you and your institution might influence your country’s innovative environment for the better.

Key Implications and Best Practices: Section 3

  • Global changes in IP regimes, especially changes that affect developing countries, have been tremendous. Within the evolving IP regime, your country has considerable freedom to control the effects of these changes. Indeed, much of the impact of these changes will depend on how countries and institutions respond to the new IP regime.
  • An important response is the creation of an effective technology transfer program. Your role in this process is essential.
  • As a scientist, you understand the interrelatedness of science, R&D, technological advance, and commercial investment. Share these insights with your institution’s technology transfer office, as well as with its senior managers.
  • Countries engaged in reforming their R&D and technology transfer efforts are today often including royalty-sharing provisions for scientists in publicly funded research institutions. This approach also comes with obligations to assign ownership rights to your institution and a duty to disclose inventions. All of these changes should be seen as incentives to turn inventions into innovations that benefit society.
  • As your institution implements IP policies and patenting strategies, your right to publish is not jeopardized. IP protection and licensing are but one form of knowledge transfer that, if well undertaken, can very much be in the public interest.
  • While access to foreign technology is integral to development, it is increasingly important to focus directly on capturing the national (or indigenous) innovation potential of developing countries. Through the activities of your research program, you may be positioned to facilitate such capture and development of the benefits arising from indigenous innovation and traditional knowledge. These efforts should be coupled with benefit-sharing provisions.
  • Understand the obligations that are attached to different funding sources when funds are used within the same program. The impact of joint public and private financial support can be complex but will increase, particularly as your institution positions itself strongly within an innovation cluster and engages in product development.
  • As a scientist, you play an increasingly important role in knowledge-based innovation clusters. Do not shy away from becoming an entrepreneur yourself.
  • Collaboration is often based on establishing personal contacts, for example, building close connections and networks to other scientists and research groups in the same field via conferences and reciprocal visiting arrangements; these all foster the formation of collaborative research projects and are fundamental for effective sharing of knowhow and show-how.

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