PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Tumi Ngqondo
 
Comments: 3
Article views: 271
 
 
Latest Badges:

 
View all Tumi Ngqondo's badges.
 

An important conversation SMMEs should start having

09 June 2014, 13:55

The technological innovation space in South Africa has indeed come a long way. From the 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology a number of initiatives have trickled out, perhaps the most significant up to this point, over and above great initiatives like the SKA has been the introduction of the Intellectual Property Rights From Publicly Financed Research Act, which was promulgated in August 2010 and subsequently gave rise to the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO). This piece of legislation is there to effectively ensure that all intellectual property emanating from publicly financed research remains in the hands of the public by ensuring that such IP is owned by organisations and institutions that receive such public funds.

The Act has been in place for about 4 years now and all institutions that receive public funds are aware of its provisions and implications on how they should conduct their day to day activities. Indeed, the number of patents filed by public institutions including universities, has increased dramatically since the introduction of the Act, which of course has had positive spin-offs on the national system of innovation and Patent Law firms are definitely not complaining about increased business

The gradual increase of patents has of course come with a number of challenges for an average public institution that receives research funds from the government, the most pressing of those is patent maintenance costs that are forever increasing every year and in the process putting a strain on limited financial resources available in a typical Technology Transfer Office(TTO). This is partly because of the fact that the initial phase of the implementation of the Act had TTOs primarily focussing on ensuring that ground breaking and innovative IP was first and foremost protected and sometimes without necessarily focussing on the commercialisation prospects that it will have in the real economy.

Basically, the initial phase was more administration driven: Inform researchers about the Act, identify potential IP and facilitate its protection, and as more and more IP disclosures came through, less and less time was designated for purely commercialisation activities. Another issue is the fact that, the small number of Tech SMMEs that the country has is not keen to talk to public research institutions most of the time. In these institutions IP portfolios have generally become very big, especially in the research intense ones. Most of these portfolios are now ripe for a more radical phase inspired by a drive to ensure implementation of these technologies to real world applications, and there are endless possibilities for Small Businesses in the country.

This phase should be driven by a more radical and “open” approach towards commercialising intellectual property portfolios that these entities already have in place. One is of course not suggesting that public institutions are not currently engaged in rigorous commercialisation initiatives, but there is a general feeling that there is more that can be done to facilitate access for SMMEs that are already operational as opposed to forming start-ups for every second technology in the portfolio.

What is suggested here is a deliberate, coordinated approach that will revolutionalise the entire technological innovation space in South Africa and how it interacts with SMMEs. I was very happy when the Small Business Ministry was announced as part of the new cabinet and I believe that this could be one of the first things that it can facilitate in liaison with other stakeholders in the space.  South African entrepreneurs, particularly those in the technology sector should start talking to public research institutions, i.e. universities, science councils etc., there are a lot of technologies that can turn their businesses around which are waiting for them in these institutions. In turn Technology Transfer Offices should actively device ways that they can use to ensure that their offices are less intimidating for local SMMEs to come around for a cup of coffee and have conversations about potential synergies between their companies and the IP portfolio that the public institution has.

How would one do this, given the costs of intellectual property protection?, after all, it is not every day that you meet a young entrepreneur who has the muscle to pay, say R100k per year on IP protection costs, which is probably one of the reasons why they are so shy to talk to public research institutions about these things. My suggestion here is that, the government, through an arm like the SMME Ministry (It could be any other ministry that is willing and able) can offer financial relief to small businesses that are working on commercialising public IP by covering patent maintenance costs for granted patents that they are developing. On the other hand and  given the fact that some public institutions may end up abandoning these “un-commercialised patents” as a result of sky rocketing costs, instead of abandoning, they can license these patents to these small companies for “FREE” on condition that, the SMME will start paying once they start making a profit based on the licensed technology. Again, I’m not suggesting that spin-off companies from public institutions are not “SMMEs” enough, these are welcome, this approach on the other hand would give a life-line to “orphaned” technologies that do not have internal inventors that are interested in pursuing in them, due to the fact that, the inventor may have been a postgrad student and has since graduated and left in case of a university or instances where they were staff and have since left the organisation.

So there you have it, an SMME Ministry funding IP protection costs and public institutions providing patents and only expecting payment when the “external” SMME has started making money from the IP. Generally for a TTO, the focus should be split between the “entrepreneurial inventor” and the random entrepreneur scouting for IP that can assist his/her business.

We all know the story about the important role that small businesses can play in eradicating unemployment in this country. This is the ideal set up that would introduce another dimension towards ensuring that publicly financed IP is put into good use, however it depends on open lines of communication between SMMEs and publicly financed institutions.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Adv Sphamandla Blose
Our heritage, our culture

Celebrating the importance of the Heritage month, Xhosa traditional clothing is one of the most recognised attire that symbolises the rich culture which brings its own vibrancy to our diversity. Read more...

6 comments 183 views
Submitted by
Vulcan Trekkie
What makes you African? Tackling ...

So what makes you African? Is it the colour of your skin? Is it the continent you where born on? Is it your culture, your language or something else? Read more...

7 comments 149 views
Submitted by
Kalos eidos
Obama's UN Speech. How can we bel...

His speech smacked of a New World Order bent, without resorting to the term outright, he used words and phrases like unity, collective, an interconnected world; enforce international norms and so on.  Read more...

24 comments 846 views
Submitted by
luckyluke
Blind loyalty

What is it that Zuma has that instils the blind loyalty we witness from his most senior appointees in his Cabinet? Read more...

7 comments 246 views
Submitted by
Angela Ford
People just don't care anymore

I was on the train. As it started pulling away, it suddenly came to a stop again. We weren't sure why but a couple of minutes later, we heard that someone was "under the train".  Read more...

16 comments 2135 views
Submitted by
Njabulo Mndebele
Following your heart

I have a question why love is so difficult to understand and why we always chose people wrong people to love them?  Read more...

4 comments 513 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2014 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.