Awardees gain expert insight into how Intellectual Property drives innovation in healthcare 

2 February 2022.
By the Award program team

While various economic, technological, social, and other factors influence innovative and creative activity, intellectual property (IP) plays an increasingly important role. Broadly defined by the World Intellectual Property Organization as creations of the mind, IP includes new product ideas, attractive designs, distinctive business signs and creations. These creations have been recognized in law as property that the creator can own provided specific legal conditions are satisfied.

The IP system plays a critical role in an entrepreneur’s journey. It allows entrepreneurs to control the destiny of their innovations and is a source of vital technical and business intelligence that is invaluable for making informed decisions throughout the business cycle of a business enterprise. Concurrently, IP rights help to protect against imitators and enable entrepreneurs to create a distinctive identity to strengthen their market presence. While supporting their competitiveness, an IP system also allows entrepreneurs to manage risk. An entrepreneur who ignores IP may infringe on the IP rights of another, be blocked from entering domains and territories already occupied by others and lose critical assets to other entrepreneurs and companies that filed for protection first. Entrepreneurs should fully integrate IP into their company’s business strategy.

However, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is often a crucial but daunting subject for entrepreneurs. While most realize that protecting their IP (patents, copyrights, and trademarks) is essential, understanding how to obtain and enforce IP rights can be daunting, not least because of the complexity of IP rules, and the substantial costs involved in protecting IP rights. This can lead to entrepreneurs leaving their IP vulnerable.

As part of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award programme, an IPR clinic will provide Award winners and participants of the Women Innovators Incubator access to leading IPR expert Manisha Desai, PhD to guide the entrepreneurs on identifying, protecting, allocating, financing and enforcing intellectual property rights.And to answer any questions on IPR the participants may have, this clinic is a way of providing the one-to-one guidance and expert advice on IPR. Manisha Desai is an intellectual property expert who is well-versed in the complexities of patentability, enforcement, and compulsory licensing policies around emerging markets such as Latin America, Russia/Commonwealth States, the Middle East, South Africa, and South Asia. Before practicing law, Manisha conducted biochemistry and neuroscience research for almost ten years in university and industry settings. She obtained a law degree from Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana; a PhD in pharmacology from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia; and a B.A. in chemistry and Russian from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Entrepreneurs will learn the criteria and processes vital to IP registration concerning specific IP rights. Ultimately, IP is critical to incentivizing the continuous development of healthcare innovations and fueling the growth of sustainable solutions to Africa’s various healthcare challenges.