NOTAP: Moving the economy forward via Intellectual Property to save Nigeria billions of naira

In pursuit of moving the nation’s Science Technology and Innovation (STI) forward, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP)  organised patentees forum in northern Nigeria to brainstorm on moving indigenous Intellectual Property (IP) to the next level. BINTA SHAMA reports.

Study, states that economic theory suggests that providing firms with monopoly rights via patents will result in price increases. And in exchange of any insufficiency, patents are intended to provide the necessary incentives for the development of products in the future.

Recently, patentees in Northern Nigeria met at a One Day Forum in Bauchi State to discuss modalities of moving their inventions and innovations to the next level of commercialization.

The forum organized by NOTAP an Agency under the purview of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (FMSTI), became pertinent due to the numerous efforts made by Nigerian researchers, inventors and innovators that do not translate into products and services.

90 percent of the technologies that powers Nigerian economy are imported

Speaking at the event, the Director General of NOTAP Dr. DanAzumi Mohammed Ibrahim said the forum will address the various challenges faced by researchers, inventors and innovators in moving their findings to the market for the socio-economic development of the nation.

He decried the current situation whereby over 90 percent of the technologies that power the Nigerian economy are imported noting that the tide must be stemmed to save the nations scarce foreign exchange adding that the world has fast moved away from resource to knowledge based economy and Nigeria must not be left behind.

He further said that the forum will also provide the needed synergy between researchers and funding institutions to create the necessary impetus that would ensure that Research & Development (R&D) outputs from the nation’s knowledge centers are moved to the market as products and services.

The NOTAP boss revealed that the agency has through its regulatory role of registration and monitoring of technology transfer agreements saved the nation over 79.6 billion naira that would have left the nation’s borders as capital flight and has initiated various programmes and policies such as; the Local Vendor Policy, NOTAP-Industry Technology Transfer Fellowship (NITTF) and Upgrade of Chemical Laboratories in Institutions of higher learning/research institutes  in a bid to stimulate indigenous skills development in Science, Technology and Innovation(STI).

The Vice-Chancellor Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi, Prof. Mohammed Abdulazeez represented by the Director Research, Innovation and Development ATBU, Prof. Fatima Sawa said Nigeria cannot make any meaningful progress without investment in research, science, technology and innovation. She commended NOTAP for organizing the forum noting that it will help the nation in moving forward technologically pointing out that no one will develop our nation and it therefore behooves on Nigerians to support the patriotic moves by NOTAP to instill the culture of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for our much needed socio-economic development.

She said a lot has been done in research and development but most of them are lying on the shelves without been deployed for use but said the forum will help solve the issues relating to commercialization of R&D outputs. She said ATBU has a strong partnership with NOTAP and that the present North East Zonal office of the agency is domiciled within the university campus.

The Director General Bauchi Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Sani Tahir Hamid said there are many promising businesses developed by members of the chamber but are greatly challenged by funding. He commended NOTAP for organizing the forum which he believed strongly would address salient issues faced by researchers and entrepreneurs in protecting and commercializing their research outputs.

The immediate past Vice-Chancellor ATBU Prof. Saminu Abdulrahman said Nigeria needs to move from the double helix to the triple helix approach noting that the double helix approach was implemented by ATBU in the past but failed to produce meaningful results. He said the idea of bringing Government, Researchers and Industry together to find ways to develop STI which NOTAP is promoting through the forum is the right way to go. He added that NOTAP intervention in providing the necessary infrastructure for research in ATBU was timely as it led to the accreditation of the institution from interim to full accreditation.

Research work to advance economy

In a message to the occasion, the Executive Secretary National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) Prof. Idris Bugaje represented by the Director NBTE North East Zonal Office Bauchi, Hussaini Muhammed revealed that the board recently commissioned an R&D exhibition centre where all the research efforts of technical institutions in the country are on display. While commending NOTAP for organizing the forum to sensitize patentees on the way forward, he suggested that government institutions responsible for co-coordinating and promoting research and development activities in the country should visit the NBTE R&D centre to identify and nurture commercializable research efforts for the economic progress of the country.

In his goodwill message, the Vice-President North, Association of Nigerian Inventors (ANI) Eng. Sadeeq Mohammed commended NOTAP for the tremendous support it is giving to members of the association saying it has given them hope that their efforts towards the technological advancement of the nation is being recognized.

In a presentation on Patent Protection in Nigeria, the Registrar Patent & Designs Registry, Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment represented by Barr. Rabi Garba Sari highlighted the various procedures for the registration of patents. She advised all those with inventions and innovations to make sure they secure them by applying and obtaining their patent certificates from the Patent Registry since according to her failure to do so may lead to the theft of their intellectual assets.

IPR to fast-track economic growth

While presenting a paper on Intellectual Property Rights Exploitation through Licensing, the Director Technology Acquisition and Research Coordination department NOTAP, Mrs. Carol Anie-Osuagwu defined IP according to the World’s Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), as “Creations of the mind -everything from works of art to inventions, computer programs to trademarks and other commercial signs.”   And is a product of human endeavour; intangible (non-material and non-physical), but valuable and original.

The Director who described a license as an agreement between a licensor and a licensee granting the licensee the right to use the IP in a manner that does not infringe the rights defined in the agreement said that licensing of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) will fast-track economic growth, reward entrepreneurship, promote competition and ensure that creative efforts are not copied by others.  She added that it will also protect consumers through ensuring product and service quality, encourage creativity, inventions and technological breakthrough and attract international investments into the country.

She noted that NOTAP supports and guides genuine IP holders who seek its assistance to exploit their IPs and also implements the Federal Government’s policies on Technology Transfer Agreements which has contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of the nation.

Also presenting a paper on CBN Instruments for Commercialization of Patents (Protected R&D Results) Manager Development Finance Office Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) office Bauchi Mr. Umaru Ishaku said the CBN is a development partner and has numerous facilities and grants available to researchers, inventors and Innovators to actualize their enterprise.

He said, the bank has given out loans to farmers and entrepreneurs through its Development Finance Office domiciled in all CBN offices in Nigeria and urged researchers, inventors and innovators to visit to the office for support.

Representative of the Bank of Industry (BOI) at the forum Umar Abdullahi said BOI’s core mandate is the provision of financial assistance for the establishment of large, medium and small projects, as well as the expansion, diversification and modernization of existing enterprises and rehabilitation of ailing industries.

He revealed that the bank has various funding opportunities one of which is the North East Rehabilitation Fund to help businesses, stressing that the fund has provided 186 beneficiaries with loans totaling N575 million which has created about 1100 direct and indirect jobs in the region.

Speaking on the opportunities in the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN) for commercialization of patents, the Deputy Director Engineering Technology and Infrastructure Department of the agency, Engr. Mikhail Salau said the office provides entrepreneurship development training, access to market, business plan preparation, book keeping, access to workspace, networking and advocacy for new businesses.

He said patentees can take full advantage of the opportunities in his agency to commercialize their IP and called for synergy between NOTAP and SMEDAN to facilitate the commercialization of IPR for the rapid economic development of the country.

The forum drew top researchers, inventors and innovators from both the public and private universities, research institutions and business associations in northern Nigeria.

The information for the event was signed by the Head, Public Relations and Protocol, NOTAP, Mr. Solomon Nshem.

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