The PATLIB2022 Conference - the highlight of the year for the PATLIB network and a space to connect and exchange knowledge and best practices - took place on 12 and 13 May with "PATLIB in a European context" as its theme.
For the second year in a row, the conference was co-organised with the European Commission and fully digital. The proceedings of day 1 were open to the public and streamed live on the EPO's social media channels and YouTube, reaching a further 2 500 viewers. Overall, the EPO recorded more than 1 300 registrations from 83 countries.
In his welcome address, EPO President António Campinos emphasised the event's major significance in joining up forces to support innovation and knowledge valorisation across Europe: "It is the PATLIBs that will continue to play a key role in helping inventors understand how patents, both unitary and traditional, can help to grow businesses and bring innovations to market, innovations that can help create a more sustainable world." Referring to the importance of sharing expertise beyond Europe, Mr Campinos went on to affirm: "... we're designing a new knowledge transfer pilot scheme to foster co-operation between our PATLIB network and a number of African universities and research centres. With the support of our local partners ARIPO, OAPI and WIPO, this scheme aims to make a real difference when it comes to boosting innovation by local businesses."
The keynote speakers raised awareness of the importance of sustainability within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Highlighting the role of SMEs in the sixth wave of innovation, Anita Krohn Traaseth (EIC) emphasised the need to "innovate faster and validate earlier towards sustainability".
Day 1 of the conference covered more general IP topics such as common values and principles of research and innovation valorisation, including those outlined in the European Research Area Policy Agenda 2022-2024.
In the panel discussion on "Best practices for intellectual asset management" the groups explored how innovation ecosystem actors can incentivise the sharing of IP to foster entrepreneurial and financial know-how. Another panel discussion concerned the Unitary Patent, providing information about administrative/legal aspects and benefits, alongside a practical use case and start‑up case study.
Day 2 of the conference was exclusively for PATLIB centres, the national IP offices of member states and invited observers, with speakers from the PATLIB network and the EPO's PATLIB team.
After a recap of the first year of PATLIB 2.0's existence, discussions touched on the various centres' learnings and positive takeaways over the course of the pandemic with reports from the PATLIB centre Innovation Salzburg, INPI Ile de France and OMPIC Morocco. Notwithstanding the importance of live events to meet and connect, the centres recognised the added value of digital communication channels (social media) to make learning more accessible and reach a wider community.
Best practice examples were shared about funding initiatives from the European Commission for PATLIB centres and their customers. For example, the EUIPO demonstrated the recently established SME fund scheme featured on the EUIPO website.
In the panel discussion on "Promoting technology transfer and innovation: how PATLIB centres support universities and SMEs" the panellists identified the key role of PATLIB centres in educating researchers on adopting a more entrepreneurial mindset and making better use of their IP, not only to take full advantage of the technology's commercial potential, but also to identify the value of technology to create a start-up. The general consensus was that the PATLIBs should raise awareness and offer specialised advice to SMEs. The EPO's PATLIB team agreed to take this into account in learning and developing packages for PATLIB support staff wishing to apply for a professional tech transfer certification, which the EPO collaborates on with the alliance behind the Registered Technology Transfer Professional (RTTP) certification scheme.
To finish up, the EPO conducted a quick survey, receiving a tremendous 86% satisfaction rating from participants confirming the tangible sense of excitement and commitment they exhibited throughout the conference and their readiness to collaborate and further develop the PATLIB network. Some stakeholders even identified the network as a "game-changer". To sum up in the words of Ruzena Stemberkova (University of South Bohemia), "the networks are there to exchange information, solve problems together and find good friends" while "making personal life a little more colourful", and in the words of Cornelius Enuezie, founder of Cozaren, "Happy Networking!".