From 9 – 13 December over 300 experts from around the world come to the University of Cape Town to explore local solutions to global questions about innovation, intellectual property (IP) and the public interest. The Open African Innovation Research (Open A.I.R.) Conference and Global Congress on IP & the Public Interest takes place at the Protea Breakwater Lodge, home of UCT’s Graduate School of Business and is proudly hosted by our Unit. Conference delegates are also celebrating the launch of two path-breaking publications: Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa, published by UCT Press, and its sister report, Knowledge & Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future. “This event comes at a crucial time when policymakers around the world acknowledge the need for more balanced and locally relevant IP laws that facilitate innovation and development, and respond appropriately to the challenges brought about by the digital age,” says Dr. Tobias Schonwetter, Director of the IP Unit. South Africa, for instance, recently published a draft National Policy on IP. That policy seeks to reconcile private interests in protecting IP with the public’s demand for opportunities to access intellectual goods such as educational material, medicines and indigenous knowledge. Professor Caroline Ncube, the IP Unit’s Associate Director, explains: “The conference reflects a growing spirit of South-South exchange, at both research and policy levels, on innovation and IP matters, as suggested by the large number of delegates coming from Latin America and Asia.” Confirmed speakers include Fernando dos Santos (Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization), Marisella Ouma (Executive Director at the Kenya Copyright Board), Herman Ntchatcho (Senior Director, World Intellectual Property Organization), Michael Geist (University of Ottawa, Canada), Ruth Okediji (University of Minnesota, U.S.A.), Peter Drahos (Australian National University), Mark Heywood.
Interested parties can follow the proceedings via our hashtag #gcongress or on the conference website. Some live streaming will be available and we will share many of the presentations after the conference.