Francis Gurry led WIPO as Director General from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2020.

Openness and Economic Success: WIPO Director General Gives Keynote Speech in Denmark

November 14, 2019

Openness is a critical factor in economic and technological success, with a new WIPO report showing an increase in international collaboration among global innovation hotspots, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said at the opening of a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Mr. Gurry’s keynote speech on the conference theme – can the intellectual property (IP) rights system deal with its own success? – included findings from the 2019 edition of WIPO’s World Intellectual Property Report. The report analyzed millions of patent and scientific publication records across several decades to conclude that innovative activity has grown increasingly collaborative and transnational, while originating in a few large clusters located in a small number of countries.

In the early 2000s, teams of scientists produced 64 percent of all scientific papers and teams of inventors were behind 54 percent of all patents, the report showed. By the second half of the 2010s, these figures had grown to almost 88 and 68 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, collaboration was also becoming more international in nature, the report concluded.

“I think there is an argument, at least it is one to which I subscribe, that openness is the key to success economically and technologically. And I think there are many historical examples that serve that point,” Mr. Gurry told conference attendees.

Some 30 metropolitan hotspots alone accounted for 69 percent of patents and 48 percent of scientific activity during the 2015-2017 period, the report showed, mostly located in five countries – China, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America (U.S.).

“All of these places are extremely connected. There are a lot of reasons why you would go to a hub: Skilled labor, exchange of ideas, good institutions,” said Mr. Gurry. “But they need to be connected.”

About the conference

The IPR Conference ‘IP-Rettens Dag 2019’ gathered IP experts from around the world in Copenhagen on November 13 and 14, 2019, to discuss the importance of the growing popularity of IP rights systems for businesses. The event was organized by the Danish Patent and Trademark Office, whose Director General Sune Stampe Sørensen met with Mr. Gurry. Mr. Gurry also visited Denmark’s Ministry of Culture for meetings with senior officials, among other activities.