The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), in conjunction with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Japan Patent Office (JPO) and Africa University (AU), held the annual Masters of Intellectual Property (MIP) Conference on the theme, Invention and Creation for Business at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare, Zimbabwe from 7-8 December 2022.

The conference, which was targeted at past and present students of the MIP programme offered by the four partners, was conducted in a bid to help illustrate the factors that determine success in intellectual property (IP) entrepreneurship and commercialization and to shed light on how benefits from innovation can be achieved using specific case studies. In an ideas exchange setting, the many MIP generations gathered at the two-day conference, exchanging notes and ideas on enhancing the impact of IP in the real world.

Speaking on behalf of the ARIPO Director General, the Head of the ARIPO Academy, Dr Rapuleng, officially opened the ceremony and stated that the MIP program is dedicated to going beyond just producing IP graduates, as the partnership also follows up to ensure that the graduates are enhancing the network effect of their training in the industry.

“This conference provides a platform to discuss the opportunities within the IP system to support the route from ideation to commercialization, as well as turn intangible assets into business opportunities. It also presents an opportunity for some alumni to share their post-graduation experiences in IP entrepreneurship. The idea is to encourage the current students and alumni to grasp the factors that determine success in IP entrepreneurship and commercialization and to also shed light on how benefits from innovation can be achieved using specific case studies”, he said.

The Japan Patent Office’s Director of the Board of Trial and Appeal in Africa Mr. Futoshi Yasuda addressed the attendees and put on record that Japan is a “partner that grows together” with Africa and is confident of the outcomes of the MIP programme.

He was hopeful that the alumni would use the knowledge and personal connections gained through this event both at home and abroad to become key business people who connect their home countries with Japan and other countries.

“According to a report by the United Nations, Africa is expected to have the largest youth population in the world in the future. For Africa to achieve further development, it is key to create an environment where young people who will lead the future can play an active role. JPO believes that in order to strengthen the IP base in Africa, it is important to create an environment in which young people can flourish, building the needed human resources in IP”, said Mr. Futoshi.

The Senior Counsellor, World Intellectual Property (WIPO) Division for Africa, Ms. Loretta Asiedu, in her remarks, talked of the importance of entrepreneurship in Africa and WIPO’s interventions for development. She noted that “Every product or service that we use in our daily lives is the outcome of a series of human creativity and inventiveness, and regardless of the business you are engaged in, there is always the likelihood that you are using or generating a considerable amount of IP”.

“At WIPO, we are committed to supporting innovation and creativity for all countries’ economic, social and cultural development through a balanced and effective international IP system. We seek to ensure that IP is seen as a tool for creating jobs, attracting investments, driving enterprise growth, and ultimately developing economies and societies for a better and more sustainable future. The vision adopted under our Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2022-2026 is to help create a world where innovation and creativity from anywhere are supported by intellectual property (IP) for the good of everyone”, added Ms. Asiedu.

At the Conference, the participants also got the opportunity to learn from renowned leadership and innovation coaches who made up a great part of the line-up for the two-day program. These included Mrs. Precious Murena-Nyika, an executive leadership coach who taught about taking risks while considering non-conventional perspectives, and Mr. Tinodiwa Zambe-Makoni, a successful Zimbabwean comic-book artist who spoke passionately about telling the African narrative through entrepreneurship.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, participants expressed extreme gratitude to ARIPO, WIPO, JPO and AU for continuously supporting the growth of Human Resources in the field of IP, as it is crucial in the sustainable development of Africa.