The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) urged innovators and industry to maximize and explore the value of intellectual property (IP) to fast-track ideas to the market for the benefit of society. The organization also called on South Africaโ€™s researchers, innovators, and businesses to partner with it to develop and commercialize products and technologies.

On 7 July 2021, the CSIR hosted a webinar on IP and industry, focusing on the role of IP and small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in taking ideas to the market. The event, hosted as part of the CSIRโ€™s 75-year celebrations, aimed to highlight the importance of understanding the legal and regulatory framework for effective IP exploitation, close the gap between research and the market, and converting IP into commercial enterprises.

The CSIR event was in line with the World IP Day 2021 theme, โ€œSMEs & IP: Taking your ideas to marketโ€. The theme recognizes that SMMEs are the backbone of national economies and make up a large percentage of job creation, which can be fostered using IP.

Encouraging creativity and innovation in South Africa

The CSIR, as a research organization, believes that IP plays a critical role in encouraging creativity and innovation in the country. The organization recognizes the role that SMMEs play in the economy and is committed to supporting them. The CSIR Strategy invites collaboration with universities, communities, and entrepreneurs by providing access to scientific infrastructure and expertise across the value chain.

Over the years, through its Biomanufacturing Industry Development Centre (BIDC), the organization transferred 109 products to 37 SMMEs. The BIDC has seen more than 300 unique applications from SMMEs in the area of biomanufacturing. Products and technologies include specialty chemicals, biotechnology products with applications such as laboratory reagents or eco-friendly cleaning products, nutritional foods, cosmetics focusing on indigenous natural product-based ingredients, and biopharmaceuticals.

Support to the 37 companies included developing and validating manufacturing technologies for products, including scale-up, piloting and techno-economic assessment, and initial contract manufacture to enable companies to test the market. This support was enabled through funding from the Jobs Fund and the Department of Science and Innovation as part of a national drive towards job creation and sustainable impact through innovation.

The recently launched Photonic Prototyping Facility also provides the necessary infrastructure, skills, and expertise for the prototyping and product development of photonics technologies, which will lead to competitive offerings being available for transfer to established industry and new or emerging SMMEs. The organization further called on South African scientists, researchers, engineers, industries, SMMEs, and entrepreneurs and investors to use this facility to develop photonic-related products.

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