State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes- Abrahams, says the licensing of technology, if properly managed, can be a key source of wealth generation for the country.
“Technology licensing is a means of exploiting our intellectual property (IP) assets to maximise the potential value inherent in such assets. As with technology development, technology licensing should be managed creatively for the best possible results,” she said, while addressing the opening of a training programme on technology licensing, at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies (UWI), in St. Andrew, on December 3.
Technology licensing entails an agreement whereby an owner of a technological intellectual property allows another party to use, modify, and/or resell that property in exchange for compensation or something else of value.
The State Minister noted that taking advantage of IP is considered to be an efficient and pro-competitive undertaking, because it fosters the efficient commercialisation of new products, and increases the incentive to engage in research and development.
According to an article on the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website, entitled: ‘Licensing and Technology Transfer’, licensing not only creates an income source for the patentee, but also establishes the legal framework for the transfer of the technology to a wider group of researchers and engineers, who may, in turn, further contribute to the development of the technology concerned.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said that over the years, the country’s focus on technology has been based, to a large extent, on capital goods and equipment, rather than on the transfer of technology, which involves the transfer of skills and know-how to use, operate, maintain as well as understand the technology hardware, so that further independent innovation is possible at the level of the firm.
“For us, therefore, one of the most important aspects of technology transfer is the building of local capacity, which will allow us, whether in government or private sector, to use and to design technologies that can be diffused in the local economy,” she said.
The State Minister, however, pointed to certain limitations in maximising technology,including the need for greater knowledge of technological issues, the high cost of certain technologies, and of course, intellectual property rights issues pertaining to the effective transfer of technology.
“All of this means that technology licensing is an area in which we certainly need to grow, in terms of knowledge and experience and to that extent, our strategies for growth in this area must involve: harnessing the creative capacities of our people; facilitating an environment that rewards their efforts, and honing their skills in using the best tools and practices possible to maximise inventive output,” she said.
Meanwhile, Head, Innovation Structures Section, Innovation Division, WIPO, Olga Spasic, noted that technology licensing is the most frequently used means for transfer of knowledge and technology, particularly in collaboration between universities and industry.
“It is also a necessary tool for participating in new forms of international innovation. This is what we call open innovation or networking innovation between different actors from the public and private sectors,” she said.
Manager, Intellectual Property Management Unit, Office of Research , UWI, Dr. Beverley Pereira, told JIS News that WIPO, Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO) and the university collaborated to offer the four-day advanced training programme on successful technology licensing, geared primarily at researchers, “so that they are sensitised to the business aspect of research.”
“It’s fine to do the science, but we need to understand the business aspect and we have invited lawyers, private practitioners, persons from the University of Technology (UTech) and Northern Caribbean University (NCU), and a few others who are interested in the area,” she said.
Dr. Pereira further noted that over the period, several experts will guide participants through the various areas involved in technology licensing.
“We are looking at how do you license technology; what are the best terms that you should aim for; how do you value intellectual property, so that you know what your licensing fee and royalties should be,” she informed.