COVID-19 Pandemic

April 26th every year marks the celebration of World Intellectual Property Day or World IP Day, and its theme for this year is “Innovate for a Green Future.” However, this time, there won’t be any physical events organized, and pril 26th every year marks the celebration of World Intellectual Property Day or World IP Day, and its th the World IP Day community shall move all the celebrations to virtual and digital channels. It seems as if the COVID-19 pandemic has hijacked both the event and its theme, which was decided a long time before the date of the celebration. Now, 26th April 2020 can be an opportunity to understand how IP can help us combat and prevent situations of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recently published Patent Index Report of 2019 by the European Patent Office shows a continuously growing trend in the Patent Applications filed. The EPO had received even more than 181, 000 patent applications last year, which is 4% more from 2018, and a new all-time high mark. However, as per a study by the European Commission, currently, 95% of the patents granted in Europe, which account for nearly around three million, are dormant. Still, the efficient utilization of 5% of the Patent Portfolio in Europe has brought a contribution of 42% to the European GDP. Additionally, 90% of the European trade with the remaining part of the world comes from Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)-intensive industries. Therefore, we can say that leveraging the commercialization of IPRs into technology transfer at the moment shall prove to be exceedingly beneficial for one and all. There is a chance to see how we can make better use of our IP and build products based on new opportunities, which shall, in turn, lead to economic growth and tackle the recurrent crisis. Furthermore, the utilization figures of the patent portfolio can be even higher if the innovators achieve the full commercial power of their IPRs successfully. Consequently, without any second thoughts, we require more technology transfer since there is much more to gain for the innovators, and the world, as a whole.

In the recent university evolution, technology transfer has indeed become crucial by gaining the utmost importance in terms of the challenges and opportunities, which it presents to the remarkable efforts of the innovators who find relevant solutions to the problems faced by the individuals of the society. Without any doubt, it is a complex process operating at a high level of uncertainty and an irregular timeframe. For a successful technology transfer process, there is a dire need to go through an adequate research process and generate a sound IP portfolio, a team of highly skilled technology transfer managers, a dedicated Technology Transfer Office, which shall be the meeting point of business and science, and a surrounding entrepreneurial ecosystem exceedingly capable of absorbing creativity and providing ancillary services.

For thriving in innovation and creativity, universities must remain ambitious to achieve excellence in all three aspects, including research, teaching, and technology transfer. A vibrant culture of innovation and technology can drive economic success sustained by research. It implies the need to pay more attention to extracting value from IP. Remember, in the last decade as well we had successfully developed vaccines to fight infectious diseases, and at present, we only require making a few adjustments for having several options and solutions in hand. Another thing that is needed currently corresponds to the proof-of-concept funding to create a sample model for accelerating the commercialization process of the innovations out of the university and into the market by offering money to conduct early-stage and novel research. However, the investment approaches dilemma in the public and private sectors leads to a funding gap, in which the early-stage companies usually end up suffering the most.

Hence, for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and knowing that technology transfer can bring fruitful solutions, we first need to create a robust technology transfer ecosystem for supporting university research, SMEs, and innovators. In the subsequent step, we need to make sure that every early-stage finance or funding is available by both the public and private sectors so that the technology transfer process can proactively prove the concept of brand new ideas that are there only in initial IP filings or scientific papers.