More than 100 participants from all six Eastern partner countries took part in an EU4Digital networking event on 2 March to discuss challenges related to the management, protection and exploitation of Intellectual Property (IP), as well as opportunities linked to IP supervision in the region.
The virtual networking event attracted over 100 participants from around 50 organisations, including national patent offices, business support organisations, technology transfer offices and support organisations, ministerial-level representatives, and agencies coordinating the development of the innovation ecosystem, as well as national Harmonising Digital Market (HDM) Coordinators, EU Delegations and members of the EU4Digital ICT innovation Expert network.
The event included interactive sessions with a focus on promoting IP tools and services for SME support provided by key EU organisations, as well as reviewing opportunities for capacity building of national patent offices, technology transfer centres and other innovation ecosystem actors in the Eastern partner countries. The key EU organisations included:
The meeting began with a keynote presentation on ‘Intellectual Property support for SMEs’ by Mr. Wawrzyniec Perschke, Policy Officer at the European Commission (DG GROW). Mr. Perschke highlighted intellectual property as a valuable economic asset that needs careful treatment, and outlined the EC’s comprehensive approach to support SMEs, higher education establishments and public research organisations in various stages of the IP lifecycle. EC support is provided through the whole spectrum of tools, such as Ideas powered for business, IP Voucher/SME fund, IPA4SME, IP pre-diagnostic EU/RS and many others. Implementation of the tools takes place in close cooperation with business support organisations, private IP advisers and other stakeholders, in order to provide SMEs with better access to services.
Next, ‘The EUIPO’s International Cooperation’ was presented by Mr. Álvaro García Alcázar, International Cooperation and Legal Affairs Department Team Leader at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). He introduced the EUIPO’s general approach to international cooperation, in which the EU policy framework provides the background for the signing of bilateral EUIPO technical cooperation agreements with non-EU countries and EU-funded projects. Mr. Alcázar then cited as an example the recently-launched EU-Georgia Intellectual Property Project (EUGIPP) project, which aims to contribute to an effective level of protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in Georgia according to the commitments of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. Finally, the speaker overviewed EUIPO tools, including the databases and classification tools that can be made available via agreements with national IP offices and users in EaP countries.
EUGIPP representative Ms. Nino Chikovani, who is Deputy Chairperson at the National Intellectual Property Centre (SAKPATENTI) in Georgia, also addressed participants, confirming the project’s readiness to share its experience for potential localisation in other partner countries.
The session continued with a presentation on ‘European IP Helpdesk services and experiences’ by Ms. Claire Fritz, Senior Project Manager at the European IP Helpdesk, whose key beneficiaries are EU-funded research projects, EU SMEs and micro-enterprises engaged in cross border business activities, as well as intermediaries providing innovation support services for SMEs and researchers. The speaker said the scope of services encompassed all forms of IP and included customer-tailored IP support information via the Helpline and awareness campaigns about the importance of IP management. Also, trainings and webinars on IP-related challenges are organised that can assist EaP innovation support actors to build their capacity.
One of the support mechanisms developed by the European IP Helpdesk is the IP Ambassadors acting within the Enterprise Europe Network and covering 28 countries. Knowledge among EaP region SMEs is spread by Dr. Alexander Uspenskiy, Director at the Republican Centre for Technology Transfer in Belarus and Mr. Vadim Iatchevici, Head of Innovative Projects Directorate at the National Agency for Research and Development in Moldova, both of whom have experience as IP Ambassadors. The expertise of the European IP Helpdesk can be channelled by universities, chambers of commerce, regional development agencies, research and technology centres in EaP countries taking the ambassador’s role.
The event ended with a special training session on ‘IP management protection and exploitation in the ICT sector’ for R&D organisations, SMEs and business support organisations, delivered by Dr. Eugene Sweeney, CEO at Iambic Innovation Ltd andSenior Advisor on IP and Innovation at European IP Helpdesk. He highlighted the peculiarities of ICT, the range of possible forms of innovation across all industries, and the many possible forms of IP, as well as exploitation routes and business models. He emphasised that while all forms of IP could be treated as an economic asset, protecting them with legal tools should be seen as a strategic commercial decision for any business. Dr. Sweeney guided the audience through the strategy of decision-making on protecting ICT with IP rights, noting that while trademarks and copyrights dominate in software and services, patenting is more appropriate in telecoms and hardware.
Concluding the event, Anna Pobol, EU4Digital ICT Innovation Lead, summarised that support in ICT-based innovations should consider the commercial importance of IP assets’ strategic management, and include both IP-related training and networking components for national innovation ecosystem capacity building. In practical terms, the new collaborative linkages between national patent offices, universities, innovation support organisations and professional consultants with deep expertise in legal and technological issues would feed synergies and boost knowledge-intensive innovations in the EaP countries. Thus, the first line consultations on IP should be made available to start-ups and SMEs via innovation support organisations, such as business incubators, accelerators, cluster organisations and digital innovation hubs.
ICT Innovation Networking events
ICT Innovation networking events aim to facilitate the establishment of Eastern Partnership communities in the selected ICT Innovation policy areas. In addition to creating networks in the region, they strive for the establishment of bilateral and multilateral bridges between the Eastern partner organisations and EU stakeholders to enable further sustainable joint activities and projects. These efforts aim for overall deeper knowledge and understanding of relevant EU best practices by stakeholders in the region. Therefore, the series of events target a wide audience, including ministerial-level representatives and agencies, associations and networks of relevant policy areas, ICT Infrastructure organisations as well as other ICT Innovation ecosystem actors.
Other ICT networking events: