Innovation policies and ecosystemsback to issues

Policy-makers are faced with the task of translating a wealth of information about innovation, trade, global supply chains, trends in technology, and other factors into laws and regulations. Below we provide business perspectives on what governments can do to support entrepreneurship, attract foreign technology partners, facilitate technology deployment and the diffusion of know-how, and reinforce domestic innovative capacity.

  • Research: Strong Patents Make Wealthy Nations

    A post on the George Mason blog summarizes the key findings presented by Prof. Stephen Haber of Stanford University in his paper entitled “Patents and the Wealth of Nations.” In this piece, the author establishes a relationship between effective patent systems and innovation, then seeks to establish causality by comparing the timing of enactment of patent protections with economic growth and technological advancement. He concludes that because patent systems were, across countries, established prior to periods of growth, they are part of what stimulated innovation, productivity gains, and, ultimately, economic advancement. However, Prof. Haber conditions his finding by saying that innovation is not just a product of the strength of patent rights, but also depends on other aspects of economies that tend to be present only at higher levels of economic development.

  • Report: Measuring Global Digital Development

    Telefónica has released “Index on Digital Life” - a report designed to comprehensively assess 34 countries worldwide on the extent of their digital development. The report challenges the traditional way the digital economy is currently measured by taking a more holistic view of the different socio-economic components that combine to establish digital life within a particular economy. The authors said that its findings “challenge preconceptions that the world’s wealthiest countries exhibit the best digital prowess.” While the US tops the index, it is Latin American countries which show great progress in relation to their economic performance, in particular, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico. José María Álvarez-Pallete Lopez, Executive Chairman of Telefónica, commented on the Index launch: “To unleash the full potential of the digital economy, we need forward-looking, fairer public policies and a better cooperation between all stakeholders, public and private. Without this, we risk a digital divide, which could not only threaten economic progress, but also the lives of citizens globally.”

  • WTO Expert Panel: Stimulating Clean Tech Diffusion

    Speakers at a WTO expert panel on 29 June in Geneva discussed how trade reforms can facilitate the delivery of green tech solutions where they are most needed. The panel members discussed constraints on financing and restrictions on services, identifying these as the biggest challenges in the innovation, deployment, and diffusion of clean energy technologies. Assaad Razzouk, Group Chief Executive of Singapore-based Sindicatum Sustainable Resources, said that clean energy solutions face difficulties in the form of competition posed by subsidized fossil fuels and underscored the need to address this issue. Similarly, Syed Tauqir Shah, Ambassador of Pakistan to the WTO, noted that for many developing countries financing is the key issue for clean energy technologies. As for IPRs, WTO IP Counsellor Jayashree Watal, cited evidence showing the positive role that patents play in the context of climate change mitigation and adaptation technologies. She added that technology diffusion in general increases with IPR protection improvements. The meeting was organized jointly by the WTO Trade and Environment Division and the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London.

  • WIPO SCP Future Work

    The WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Patents (SCP) agreed a future work program today. This is good news, as the SCP provides an important global forum for exchanging information about technical patent law issues and best practices in managing patent systems. Delegates deserve congratulations for getting to this point. At the same time, it's unfortunate that the membership remains starkly divided into camps: pro-patent rights, or pro-exceptions and limitations. Hopefully future work will entail nuanced analysis of how patent systems can best be managed to deliver quality patents in a timely manner, and how IP tools can be used by a range of entities to advance science, knowledge creation and sharing, collaboration, and the broad deployment of innovative and more cost-effective solutions to society's greatest challenges. 

  • Report: Business Could Deliver 60% of Global Climate Goals

    A new research report, "The Business End of Climate Change" by We Mean Business, finds that the private sector could cut greenhouse gas emissions globally by 3.7bn metric tons of CO2 a year by 2030, equivalent to 60% of the total emissions cuts pledged by all countries in the Paris Climate Agreement through their own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This is the equivalent of taking over 1000 coal-fired power stations permanently out of use, almost 75% of the world’s total, the study explains. The authors highlight that businesses are already stepping up action: in total, around 300 companies from all over the world, in all different sectors, have signed up to the five climate action initiatives. The number of participating companies could rise to over 3500 by 2030.

  • Digital Trade Opportunities for SMEs

    Mana'o Nani is a young concept brand from Poland, designing and producing unique toys and products for children. It is a successful example of a small business which has been able to engage global markets thanks to digital trade. To maximise the opportunities that the Internet presents for trade, enabling policy environments are essential. Some key practical deliberations on how European startups can become global brands in the digital age are presented in a report by Global Innovation Forum (GIF) titled “European Startups: Global from the Get-Go.” The study sheds light on the opportunities and challenges that startups and small businesses face and suggests how to address policy issues that impact the ability to do engage in e-commerce.

  • July 5 WTO Workshop on E-Commerce

    The Permanent Missions of Mexico, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Turkey, Australia - calling themselves the "MIKTA" group - will host a workshop on electronic commerce (e-commerce) on July 5, 2016, from 10 am - 4 pm, at the WTO (Room W). The event will focus on e-commerce and digital economy trends and their intersection with trade policy, as well as issues related to economic development and support for SMEs. The workshop will touch on key issues in e-commerce, such as data flows, privacy, cloud computing, data localization, and consumer protections.

  • Standing Committee on Law of Patents (SCP24)

    The Standing Committee on the Law of Patents takes place in Geneva the week of June 27, 2016. The agenda and documentation for this meeting is here. The Innovation Insights opening statement stressed the value of hearing from those with firsthand experience developing and deploying technology solutions, and encouraged the SCP members to integrate the experiences of more, and more types of, innovators from a range of countries and sectors into SCP work (as this could help to better connect the SCP discussions to the real economy). The Committee does not currently have an agreed "future work" program and the path forward for this Committee remains uncertain. This is unfortunate, as the SCP could provide a key global forum for exchanging technical information and best practices about effective patent sytems. 

  • Australia Productivity Commission: Draft Report on IP

    The Australian Government’s Productivity Commission released a draft report suggested possible changes to the Intellectual Property (IP) Arrangements in Australia. The report sets out the Commission’s draft findings and recommendations in respect of a range of IP rights. Questions have been raised by innovators about certain recommendations in the report, for instance a proposal to exclude software from patent protection, and a proposal that would restrict patents to inventions deemed to be "socially valuable” which could be complicated to apply to patent examination in practice. The final report is expected to be handed to the Australian Government in August 2016 and published shortly after.

  • Empowering Midwives Online

    GE Healthcare has collaborated with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to launch an online midwifery training and networking platform. The program will connect more than 700 midwives from 30 countries worldwide to share information on the latest healthcare solutions and prepare these midwives to play a greater role in policy dialogues and advocate on behalf of midwives and the women and children they serve within their countries. The goal is to empower midwives, especially in developing nations, where they are rarely heard or given leadership roles. By giving midwives the voice they deserve, the quality of care for women and babies will also ultimately improve.