The WIPO Academy is committed to supporting and empowering underserved communities in the field of intellectual property (IP), namely women, youth and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). All the Academy’s programs have specifically catered courses and initiatives for these beneficiaries, coupled with a strong record of achievement.
Upskilling women in IP
The WIPO Academy first achieved gender parity among its participants in 2014, and it strives to continue empowering women to use and benefit from the IP system worldwide. The Professional Development Program is particularly known for its strong record of gender parity, with women comprising 50% of all government officials trained.
The Academy runs annual programs and outreach efforts to support women in IP education and skills-building, including:
- 60+ annual scholarships for the advanced distance learning courses for women from developing countries, least-developed countries (LDCs) and countries in transition on the occasion of the International day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11) and International Women’s Day (March 8);
- The WIPO - UNESCO Training Course on IP and the Sciences for award winning women scientists from the L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Programme. This course first took place in 2018, and since then has benefitted around 50 women scientists. The 2023 edition was offered in partnership with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) as a Leadership Course on IP, Science and Innovation for Women Scientists.
To expand the offerings catered to women, the WIPO Academy has fostered new partnerships through its Distance Learning Program and the WIPO IP Training Institutions (IPTIs). In 2022, the Distance Learning Program supported UNCTAD’s masterclass series on eTrade for women-led digital businesses in Africa, by delivering two sessions for more than 50 women entrepreneurs from 14 countries on the competitive advantage of trademarks for businesses. This support continues in 2023 with sessions in Ecuador and Malaysia.
The Academy has also launched five projects in partnership with IPTIs for the benefit of:
- women entrepreneurs in El Salvador;
- women in the visual arts in Ukraine;
- women entrepreneurs and innovators in the Dominican Republic;
- women researchers in Egypt; and
- women in the outlying regions of Costa Rica through an IP based business incubator.
Those projects will help equip 300 women with IP skills and tools, in addition to enabling the development of 35 local business initiatives led by women through mentorship.
Several WIPO Academy core programs and services are dedicated to the youth, specifically the WIPO Joint Master’s Programs, the WIPO Summer Schools, the IP4Youth&Teachers service, and the WIPO IP Youth Ambassadorship Program.
Through its 11 Joint Master’s Programs, the WIPO Academy bridges the gap in access to higher education in IP, supporting young professionals and scholars in jumpstarting their IP careers. The Academy also works with law students associations, such as the European Law Students Association (ELSA) United Kingdom, to provide IP related trainings and introduce new cohorts of young lawyers to the field of IP.
The WIPO Summer Schools are targeted at young professionals and senior university students, giving them an overview of IP and a networking opportunity with peers and IP experts from academia, the private sector and governments.
The IP4Youth&Teachers service, which was first introduced in 2004 and later revamped in 2018, helps teachers and learners on their path to creativity and innovation through IP education in primary and secondary schools. The service includes gamified and age-appropriate educational content and teaching tools that can be customized, in addition to support for national curricula setters in ministries of education, and a centralized hub for governments to share experiences, curricula and resources developed for the youth. To date, more than 2,500 teachers, and over 1,350 participants under the age of 18, have been trained under this WIPO Academy service.
The WIPO IP Youth Ambassadorship Program shines a spotlight on young users of the IP system who are creators, inventors or entrepreneurs. The IP Youth Ambassadors are cast as role models to inspire young people to learn more about IP so they could follow in their footsteps.
In 2022 the Distance Learning Program expanded its efforts under IP4Youth&Teachers to include youth camps, collaborating with Jordanian Ministry of Youth in offering online workshops on creativity, innovation and IP for the Al-Hussein Youth Camps in English and Arabic for more than 70 young participants under the age of 18.
The Distance Learning Program also delivered special sessions of the Primer on IP (DL-001) and the General Course on IP (DL-101) in Portuguese for more than 40 young entrepreneurs from Cabo Verde to help them prepare for the IP Hackathon, which is a special project of the WIPO Regional and National Development Sector.
Key partnerships with other international organizations and through the WIPO IPTIs have also been instrumental in the WIPO Academy’s efforts at reaching the youth. Recently, the WIPO Academy teamed up with the International Trade Centre’s Ye! Community to offer tailor-made editions of the DL-001 and DL-101 in English, French and Spanish, to bridge knowledge gaps among young entrepreneurs on how to safeguard business ideas and transform their innovations and creative works into profitable outputs in the market.
The Academy has also launched three projects for the youth with the IPTIs of:
- Colombia, for the creation of digital resources for kids;
- El Salvador, on an IP videogame project that was developed by university students to help kids build their IP knowledge at a young age; and
- Peru, to build the IP knowledge and skills of Urakusa children in the Awajun indigenous community, helping them protect and promote their collective knowledge, and cultural and artistic expressions.
The WIPO Academy’s programs have shifted focus to practical IP skills geared towards entrepreneurs and SMEs. In 2023, WIPO Academy and the Singapore University of Social Sciences joined forces to offer WIPO’s first Master’s Degree in IP Business for entrepreneurs, SMEs and young IP professionals.
The Distance Learning Program of the WIPO Academy runs several courses addressing IP from business perspectives including:
- the IP Panorama 2.0,
- the Advanced Distance Learning Course on IP Management (DL-450),
- the Advance Distance Learning Course on IP and Exports (DL-730), and
- the Advanced International Certificate Course (AICC) on IP Asset Management for Business Success jointly offered with KIPO, the Korean Invention promotion Association (KIPA), and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).
The advanced and specialized distance learning courses of the WIPO Academy also support the skills development of SMEs in the creative industries. In 2022 over 1,450 participants in courses on collective management, copyright and related rights, and IP and exports came from creative SMEs.
The WIPO Academy is supporting IPTIs in enabling over 40 SMEs, and more than 1,000 entrepreneurs to enhance their IP skills and integrate IP-based business models. This is achieved through 15 projects on:
- IP commercialization in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Peru and Saudi Arabia;
- IP asset identification in Colombia;
- IP for businesses in the technology field in El Salvador and Saudi Arabia;
- University spin-offs and research in El Salvador and Peru;
- IP for the surf tourism sector in El Salvador;
- eLearning for creators and entrepreneurs in ASEAN, Egypt, the Dominican Republic and Georgia; and
- IP knowledge and skills building for entrepreneurs and SMEs from the outlying regions in Costa Rica.
The first training program for the project in Costa Rica was delivered in November 2022 in Limón, a region on the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica, and one of the participants, Ada Yorleny Thorpe Thomas, was inspired to register the trademark for her business. She was the first person from Limón to register a trademark, which is a historical achievement for her region and country.
Also, the Academy has strengthened cooperation at the regional level to enable the use of the IP ecosystem in new areas and for new stakeholders. Central American countries and the Dominican Republic will benefit from a WIPO Academy-led project on IP and gastronomic tourism; and an IP management, knowledge and skills-building program for institutions that provide support to SMEs in their creation and operation, such as chambers of commerce. The new projects will be implemented under the COVID-19 recovery package.
Supporting traditionally underserved groups is a continuous endeavor that is only made possible through the joint efforts and cooperation of the Academy’s partners. More initiatives are underway to better equip women, youth and SMEs, and other beneficiaries such as scientists and diplomats, with the practical IP skills needed to thrive in the market.