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A synopsis of the Graduate Program on Intellectual Property Management and Technology Transfer organized by Society for Technology Management in association with MIHR, ICAR, ICMR, DBT, CSIR and Sathguru.

“The impact that university technology transfer has on the economy at the national and local level makes it increasingly visible to the outside world. It is estimated that the overall economic impact of technology transfer includes the creation of approximately 250,000 jobs and over $24.5 billion in product sales.”
( Sourced from an  article, written by Bob Mullins and Jan Crowe, published in the February 1999 issue of College and University Auditor, the magazine of the Association of College & University Auditors (ACUA) ).

The Impact of technology on modern life has never been more relevant than in these days of globalization. The open market economy and the ensuing competition have awakened many majors to the necessity of perpetual technological innovations. They are in constant lookout for newer technologies to maintain their leadership profile and to look out for opportunities that will allow them to expand their appeal to a wider consumer profile.

This creates a vital role for academic and public research institutions with their intellectual property resources to be a very important cog for technology transfer. Such transfers create funding opportunities for the institutions apart from the incentives for the researchers. The industry on the other hand can have an access to early stage viable technologies and  thereby  focus on the commercial market.

Developed economies have been aware of these needs and technology transfers are at a matured level in these economies, while the countries with economies in transition are gearing up to technology transfer. Emerging economies like India stand to gain a lot from such exchange of intellectual resources.  

Post 2005, India’s compliance to TRIPS and product patents has strengthened foreign investment by global giants in technology development thereby forcing  Indian companies known for their masterful art of reverse engineering to understand the importance of technological innovation.  Furthermore, amendments in the government policies has allowed companies to look into national institutes for sourcing their research needs. The changing times become clearer when global companies express their willingness to have their research centers in India. Here, organisations like Society for Technology Management (STEM, www.stemglobal.org ) play a major role in seeking out technologies and link partners from the private sector to effectively market the product. These organisations also come into play when the institutions have to tread double edged sword “innovations for public good” and “innovations for commercial use” and also compensate the dearth of skilled manpower to handle transactions of such complex a nature.

It is in this backdrop, that Society for Technology Management (STEM) conducted the graduate course in Intellectual Property Management and Technology Transfer at Goa to cognize the importance of technology transfer and build expertise for the emerging technology transfer industry. Focussing the needs of Indian industry, this was a forum for many professionals from India and abroad to discuss and address issues, exchange success stories and the best models for technology transfer.

STEM Hon.President K. Vijayaraghavan commenced the 4 day intensive program with his opening remarks stressing on the importance of technology transfer in the country especially between public institutions, academia and the industry.  

K.Vijayaraghavan addressing the class

Speaking on Global Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Opportunities, AUTM Past President John Fraser , elicited on the “Lessons for Developed Economies”, emphasizing on the need for clear and enabling governmenl policies which can foster technology transfer and thus forging the developing economies on the growth tangent. During the course of the presentation he also, emphasized on the American Bayh Dole act of 1980, which played a significant role in development of patent policy among the many federal agencies that fund research, enabling small business and non profit organisations, including universities to retain title to inventions made under federally-funded research programs. Dr. Fraser encouraged the senior policy makers from the public sector institutions to adopt such measures that promoted innovation through recognition and benefits.

This concept was further augmented by K. Vijayaraghavan during his discussion on the “Lessons for Economies in Transition”, bringing into focus  the necessity for the developing economies to be self reliant in defense, health and agriculture He also emphasized on the need for government’s attention on public funded research and ‘A socialistic economic policy’.  For the last two decades have brought about rapid changes as the economies in transition with a sharp contrast between the phenomenal industrial growth in India and the below par performance of Agriculture and health sector.

In a bid to double food production and provide health care to all the section of the society, Vijayaraghavan called upon the need for policy reforms to attract investments and access to world-class technologies.

Lars von Borcke, Business Development Manager from Plant Bioscience Limited analysed the licensing landscape in agricultural technologies. He elicited on the changing market scenario in last couple of decades with the introduction of GM technologies and growth in the Ag biotech sector.  The mid 90’s saw  Ag Biotech industries extravagant sales projections, friendly regulatory and consumer environment, leading to increased  investment in genomics and constant scaling of R&D. Given this changing environment and domination of  a few major players has led to patent thickets retarding access to enabling technologies. However, with changing policies and lands with with 90m ha under GM crops, and 8m growers in 21 countries, immense opportunities exist in geographic locations (e.g. India), novel traits (output / abiotic stress), improved input traits and better enabling technologies.

The second day of the graduate program outlined on the essential components of IP management and its governing Policies with reference to the India vis a vis experiences in other developed economies.

Richard Cahoon, Associate Director of the Technology Trasfer office of Cornell university delved into essential components on IP policy framework in an academic scenario . He argued that an effective institutional IP policy should provide for clarity in IP ownership between the institution and researcher, which is very critical for stability of long-term, sustainable tech transfer and inter-institutional collaboration. Dr Cahoon called for “business model” for technology transfer so as to have a uniform structure in technology transfer. Policy framework should also balance the fine line between “individualism” and “socialism” i.e. technology for public good versus commercialization of technology.

Dr. Shashank Mauria, Asst. Director General for IPR and policy from Indian Council of Agricultural Research spoke at length on the essential components of IP policy in Public system, wherein he discussed the ICAR guidelines, in view of the rapid developments in Intellectual property rights and recognized the need for efficient management for ICAR’s intellectual property.

Dr. K. Satyanarayana, Head of IPR from Indian Council of Medical Research gave an overview of Intellectual Property Management at the Indian Council of Medical Research and RK Gupta, Head of IPR from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research spoke about CSIR’s IP Policy and its implementation. They lay emphasis on the willingness of the public institutions to work with the industry and encouraged the industry to tap the research potential of the government institutions for technology transfer.

On the same note Dr. Anthony  Bunn, from the Medical Research Council Innovation Centre, South Africa , presented a case study on IP Policy Development at the South African Medical Research Council (MRC). The focal point of the address was Bunn’s statement “Ideal process is one of co-creation and involvement at all relevant levels in an organization ensuring optimal buy-in.” He reiterated on the need for engagement of all the stakeholders from the national government, policy makers and IP generators at the same time lucidly underlining the steps for developing a working IP policy while avoiding pit falls but ensuring optimum buy ins.

On Corporate IP policy, K. Vijayaraghavan stressed on the need for corporate IP policies conducive to cataloguing existing IP assests and inlicensing to fill in the technology gaps and maintain competitive leadership. He insisted that the major sources of early stage viable technologies for the industry would be the public research institutes and the academia..

In the following sessions on patent importance and prosecution K. Satyanarayana, elicited on the necessity for patenting and exploitation of same commercially in India. He encouraged the scientific community to work towards generation more IP to leverage India’s contribution to the global mark. Dr.Harry Thangaraj, Director for research  from Centre for the Management of IP in Health R&D (MIHR), Oxford, spoke about patent prosecution through PCT route and then R. K. Gupta from CSIR provided insights on patent searches and FTO analysis as an essential means to avoid infringement liabilities. There was also an informal discussion on IP search and FTO analysis held in small groups lead by Richard Cahoon, Kevin Croft, Harry Thangaraj, K. Satynarayana, John Fraser and R. K. Gupta.

The third day of the program was on IP licensing wherein John Fraser and Kevin Croft, Managing Director  from Croft IP, Australia,  discussed methods and best practices for maximizing economic gains from IP licensing. In a presentation which exhibited absolute synergy between the two, they discussed aspects of public sector licensing. They stressed on the need for management of IP and relationships, encouraged dealmaking through .skilled negotiation practices and also discussed the perspectives on economic gains for the licensor, the licensee and the technology transfer community at large.

Sourcing of biomaterial from India and related IPR issues were discussed by R.K. Gupta in the later hours. He spoke at length on the Biodiversity Act of 2002 and discussed about procedures and regulations on biomaterial licensing from India. He elicited on the provisions of Material Transfer Agreement as outlined in the Biodiversity act of 2002.

One of the most appreciated sessions during the program was by Richard Cahoon who discussed the importance of good license agreements and described the “art” of writing good licensing agreements. He shared his insights and nuances on the anatomy of license agreements, which was followed by informal discussions by the participants with the expert faculty members.

Dr. Michelle Mulder, from the Medical Research Council Innovation Centre (MRC), South Africa presented a case study on IP management for public good. The case study on South African AIDS vaccine initiative SAAVI, Dr. Mulder explained the importance of public private partnership, governance and management of Intellectual Property in a consortium.
 
Deepanwita Chattopadhyay, Chief Executive Officer ICICI Knowledge Park, illustrated the role of Incubators as a way to enhance technology access and enterprise value. She spoke on the utility of  incubators in commercializing technologies and encouraging entrepreneurship. She also discussed a case study on a biotech company and floated the idea of virtual incubators.

 

Michelle Mulder addressing the class (MIHR)

The concluding day discussed the different facets of IP management. Lars Von Borcke pointed on working towards protecting technologies, technology marketing, technology gaps between the academia and the industry and the strategies to mitigate them.

K. Ragunathan, Director from Sathguru Management Consultants a major supporting firm of the event, discussed the nine principles of technology valuation in his presentation on technology valuation, He demystified the complex technology valuation procedures and also illustrated on royalty audits. Kevin Croft and R.K.Gupta meticulously enacted the negotiations between licensor and licensee to give few of the novice participants a feel of the important and much apprehensive subject.

Richard Cahoon delivered a talk on negotiations for technology access for public good , where he stressed on the need for philanthropic and humanitarian licensing of enabling technologies to countries incapable of generating IP.
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Dr.Sadhana Srivastava and K. Satyanarayana from the Indian council of Medical Research presented a case study on global partnerships for addressing health needs wherein they stressed on the emerging health threats, dearth in the availability of new health products and the role of ICMR in forming consortiums of Public and Private stakeholders to mitigate these issues of global concern.

On a similar note of Public Private Partnerships. Vijayaraghavan highlighted on the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II , a Global Consortium for agricultural Development, discussing on the need for bioengineered crops, identification of the consortium partners, the product development cycle, the different aspects involving technology transfer and the project output.

A panel discussion followed on the running of a successful technology transfer office which was presided on by the global experts in Intellectual property Licensing, the interactive session with the participants accentuated the need for skilled manpower and the necessity for IP management.

This was followed by a graduation ceremony and felicitation of speakers.

Also, the program was augured by MIHR as a fine time to present to STEM the recently launced Intellectual Property best practice Handbook brought out by MIHR and PIPRA embodying articles on Intellectual Property Management contributed by professionals from different parts of the world. STEM was acknowledged for its support  and contribution to the field of technology transfer.

Intellectual Property Management in Health and Agricultural Innovation: A Handbook of Best Practices is written by practitioners in the field of IP offering tools, strategies, and case studies. The Handbook is over 2000 pages, with two volumes and 159 chapters with prefatory comments. Themes encompassing innovation in health and agriculture to meet the needs of populations in developing countries.

The program was an eye opener for the participants from public and private sphere as a lot of ideas were exchanged in discussions and also a very effective forum of networking for the professionals. The program stressed on the need for effective regulations from the government to facilitate smooth technology transfer which would in turn help lot of businesses to prosper and provide a backdrop for startups enabling percolation of new technology in the market and thus can effectively used for public good. It is the private sector that stands to gain a lot as a good technology transfers from public institutions can help them expand their reach. Here, the role of institutions like STEM and AUTM can no more be emphasized as they play the major role in ensuring a clear and efficient technology transfer.

 
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