31 March 2022
On 31 March 2022, EPO President António Campinos and ARIPO Director General Bemanya Twebaze launched the online University IP outreach and capacity-building pilot project.
The idea of the pilot came out of last year's EPO-ARIPO heads of office meeting when President Campinos and the DG Twebaze recognised the challenges faced by most African universities in commercialising their IP rights.
The Reinforced Partnership Memorandum of Understanding agreement signed by the EPO and ARIPO in 2019 supports ARIPO in two aspects: firstly, building capacity in examination in ARIPO and its member states' National Patent Offices and secondly, supporting the development of the national and regional innovation systems. Under the latter, the heads of offices agreed to implement regional train-the-trainer programmes to develop institutional knowledge of the IP and patent systems and disseminate patent information to create capacity in universities and academic and research institutions.
"We believe that building sustainable capacity in science, technology transfer, and innovation is essential to support local industries to flourish in today's increasingly integrated and knowledge-based economy" said President Campinos.
Some 25 universities from the ARIPO member states participate in the pilot, as well as universities from Angola, Ethiopia and Nigeria.
The first part of the pilot establishes a basic understanding of the IP and patents systems. This train-the-trainer course is based on the IP Teaching Kit developed by the European Patent Academy.
In the second part of the pilot, participants will be trained to use patent information search tools, particularly Espacenet, the largest single source of technical information in the world. A dedicated course was developed for the pilot with a strong train-the-trainer element.
As an additional measure, President Campinos invited the universities to take full advantage of the learning resources and tools available in the PATLIB network. The network consists of 330 patent information centres spread in the EPO Member States, 40% of which are based in universities.
The pilot will run from 31 March to 1 June 2022 and is likely to be extended to more countries after the results have been measured and evaluated.