Symposium: IP Education for Human Resources in Developing Countries

July 2005

Professors, deans and directors from universities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and North America were among the symposium’s panelists.
Professors, deans and directors from universities in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and North America were among the symposium’s panelists.

The potential of a nation’s creative and innovative resources in promoting economic, social and cultural development is increasingly recognized in today’s world. Many countries, however, lack qualified personnel with the knowledge and skills of the IP system required to transform these resources into valuable economic assets. This can often prove a barrier to development. Representatives from 42 countries participated in an international event to address this topic at the WIPO International Symposium on Intellectual Property Education and Research held in Geneva on June 30 and July 1.

At the WIPO symposium, major players in the area of research and education assessed the current situation, identified the challenges ahead, explored the possibilities for enhancing international cooperation and suggested appropriate actions for further development of IP education and research. Participants agreed that much needs to be done to foster partnerships and international cooperation among academic institutions in order to promote the full integration of IP into teaching curricula. This is of particular importance given the cross-cutting nature of IP and the need for an interdisciplinary approach to IP education and IP research.

The students of today are the decision-makers of tomorrow. To ensure that these future leaders are well equipped for the challenges ahead, educators need appropriate and effective mechanisms to boost understanding of IP and ensure that its application mirrors the specific IP needs of individual countries. Emerging situations in different countries require nationally focused and tailor-made solutions. IP research has a major role to play in ensuring the integration of effective IP strategies into the overall national policy framework.

Solutions and Opportunities

The symposium explored ways to improve international cooperation to tackle some of the emerging challenges. It identified coherent approaches and opportunities, such as how a multidisciplinary approach could be reflected in the IP curriculum of universities and how universities could overcome the scarcity of IP lecturers through international cooperation and using more “virtual” professors to service distance learning courses via the Internet. Participants agreed that ongoing efforts should be enhanced to strengthen and expand partnerships and strategic cooperation among academic institutions. The cooperation between academic institutions and different stakeholders – for example private enterprise and government agencies – will also have to be developed and expanded since there is a growing need for an interdisciplinary approach to IP research capacity.

There was unanimous agreement that the allocation of resources for IP education and research at universities, as well as at secondary education institutions, is insufficient, and in many respects is “isolated” from other operations relevant to IP. Governments and users of IP need increased support for human resources development – a critical element, if nations are to benefit from the IP system, its incentives and infrastructure, and thus accelerate the creation of wealth.

Panelists strongly supported an enhanced and more comprehensive approach to IP education and research and suggested more integration of IP into such disciplines as economics, business, trade, sciences, engineering and culture. IP education and research was strongly recommended as a way to leverage the sharing of information and resources among the stakeholders, institutions and governments.

The following actions were among suggestions from panelists:

  • To encourage and advocate at the highest policy level the strengthening of governmental support for IP education and research in the context of development;
  • To help developing countries establish institutional bases (e.g., IP research centers) and more effective mechanisms to collect and disseminate current and relevant documentation for IP education and research (IP libraries);
  • To reflect the interdisciplinary nature of IP in IP curricula, and to bring other areas, such as the field of economics, business management, engineering, science and technology, culture, environment and sociology into that process;
  • To conduct IP research from the nation’s strategic perspectives in developing countries in order to facilitate national debate and policy formulation;
  • To start IP education at an earlier stage, covering the younger generations, with a view to fostering a culture which respects creativity and strives to curb piracy;
  • To explore various new and different sources of funding to enhance IP education and research;
  • To provide IP researchers in developing countries with opportunities to publish their work, both in their country and externally;
  • To conduct joint research operations involving researchers from both developed and developing counties, in an attempt to find common grounds for further developing the IP system, taking into account different needs and interests;
  • To suggest various models of IP curricula for different target groups such as engineers and business managers; and
  • To develop mechanisms allowing universities to collaborate internationally through, for example, programs for exchanging teachers and students and for sharing teaching materials and useful information about IP issues.

The participants recommended that WIPO and the WIPO Worldwide Academy should reflect the outcome and the suggestions from the Symposium in Academy programs and in its collaboration with partners in future initiatives.

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