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Rural innovations could yield wealth for communities through IP applications

Apr 22, 2020
Rural innovations could yield wealth for communities through IP applications

Mthatha - African indigenous knowledge systems along with other rural innovations could yield generational wealth for Black communities through Intellectual Property (IP) applications and commercialization, according to Walter Sisulu University (WSU’s) Technology Transfer Manager, Dr. Ncebakazi Galada.

WSU will play its role to educate, equip and encourage its community and general public on the value of IP and innovation as the global community commemorates World Intellectual Property (IP) Day on 26 April,

Indigenous Knowledge means knowledge which has been developed within an indigenous community and has been assimilated into the cultural and social identity, including but not limited to: knowledge of a functional nature; knowledge of natural resources; and indigenous cultural expressions among other things.

“In line with the IP world day 2020 theme " Innovate for a greener future" we will make a call for innovation challenge to WSU community and general public. Successful participants will stand a chance to win innovation support vouchers towards the development of their ideas into commercial products, processes and services” Galada said.

Galada said the understanding and application of IP allows for novel creations or improvements on inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; symbols, names and images which can be used for commercial purposes.

“The IP can benefit people by giving them a competitive edge to their competitors or at least by being acknowledged and being remunerated by the third parties who may wish to use their IP or indigenous knowledge in the case of rural communities,” she added.

Galada added that it is important to first ensure that the IP is protected. This can be done through the Offices of Technology Transfer (OTT) located at public universities across the country, alternatively through the CIPC or private IP law firms.

Through the interventions of WSU’s Office of Technology Transfer, the university’s innovation portfolio has grown significantly. This has led to the filing of a trademark for herbal teas which have been scientifically validated to have efficacy in the management of arthritis and calming the nervous system; these products have been a result of research conducted in partnership with indigenous knowledge holders.

In 2019, two WSU student-led medical innovations supported by the OTT, a Pneumatic-actuated Prosthetic Foot and a Pin-lock Adjustable Pylon, made national headlines as inventions that would redefine physical mobility for amputees in South Africa and internationally.

A number of prototypes have also been developed and these have various applications in agriculture and health based industries.

IP rights can be in a form of Trade Marks, Patents, Designs and Copyrights.