Kenya Joins the Inventor Assistance Program

May 11, 2023

Today in Nairobi, the throbbing heart of East African innovation, the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and WIPO took a giant leap to support local inventors. These institutions teamed up to launch the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP) in Kenya. The Program puts patent protection within reach of individuals and small businesses.


Kenya becomes the ninth IAP participating country, joining Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore and South Africa. The Program pairs inventors with volunteer experts to navigate the patent system at no cost, increasing the odds of securing a commercial asset. More than 45 inventors received patents with the Program’s help. According to John Onyango, KIPI Acting Managing Director, the IAP holds the potential to push Kenya’s innovation ecosystem forward. “The Program will allow our inventors and innovators to harness their ideas for social and economic development of our country.”

Each year, more than 300 Kenyan inventors apply for patent and utility model protection. The most recent Global Innovation Index points to tremendous potential, with Kenyan innovation outputs outperforming levels of investment for the 4th year in a row. However, relatively few of these ideas make it through the patent system. Many local inventors represent themselves before the patent office and get stuck on the technicalities. The IAP stands to change that, providing professional support and the opportunity for Kenyan inventors to have their ideas evaluated on their merits.

“Patents and other intellectual property help inventors and businesses attract investments, scale up, and compete on a global stage,” said Allison Mages, Head, IP Commercialization Section, IP for Business Division, IP and Innovation Ecosystems Sector, WIPO. “The partnership between KIPI and WIPO will allow inventors to secure rights within Kenya and beyond.” Through the IAP’s global network of volunteers, inventors currently benefit from pro bono support in other IAP participating countries as well as Europe and the United States.

Volunteers who donate their time to the Program reap huge dividends too. As David Kappos, Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore s – the IAP Steering Committee Chair, shared, “from my experience, the person who gets the most benefit out of this Program is the attorney preparing the patent application.” Volunteers get many opportunities, like meeting potential clients, building professional networks and technical skills, he explained.

Building these skills is another focus of the KIPI-WIPO growing partnership. In January this year, KIPI agreed to recognize the International Patent Drafting Training Program. Kenyan participants receive a professional certificate after successfully completing the 8-month hands on training program. As demand for the IAP and local patent professionals grow, the two organizations will use both programs to enhance Kenya’s innovation ecosystem.

Kenya’s innovation-powered future is bright. The launch celebrated potential, with representatives from Magna Quest, Gavo Foods and Hello Tractor, sharing their journey. Each described the essential role patents played in the growth of their ventures and expressed the massive benefit the IAP could deliver.

The Program’s impact could be felt immediately. Inventors attending the launch had the chance to discuss their inventions with one of the Programs 16 local volunteers. These consultations are expected to lead to Kenya’s first IAP beneficiaries.

Video Messages

David Kappos
Partner, Cravath, Swaine & Moore – IAP Steering Committee Chair
Corey Salsberg
Global Head of IP Affairs, Novartis – IAP Steering Committee Member

Want to learn more about the Inventor Assistance Program (IAP)?

Visit the IAP Online Platform to learn more about how to become an IAP beneficiary or volunteer, or to find more information on the Program.