Tech innovators delve into IP commercial exploits

McLean Sibanda, CEO of The Innovation Hub. (Image source: File)
McLean Sibanda, CEO of The Innovation Hub. (Image source: File)
McLean Sibanda, CEO of The Innovation Hub. (Image source: File)

The Intellectual Property Rights Act has introduced important conditions in South Africa for the commercialisation of Intellectual Property and will impact operations across a number of industries and sectors. A carefully thought-out intellectual property strategy, incorporating full protection of this resource, has a profound impact on raising capital for business.

Additionally, from patented and protected IP to trade secrets that form part of the intellectual capital of a Company, there is opportunity in successfully commercialising IP.

These were among the key takeaways from an Innov8 session, hosted by The Innovation Hub in Pretoria this week, focused on what constitutes a successful IP strategy and how best to commercialise this resource.

A panel discussion between industry experts, entrepreneurs and innovators explored the various facets of IP management, protection and application to build business.

The panel comprised Dr Walter Smuts, founding member of Expertron, a company specialising in innovative product development for information and communication security solution Mr. Brian Mphahlele from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Ms Rapelang Rabana, technology entrepreneur and co-founder of Yeigo Communications, Dr Nicolaas Duneas, a registered medical biological scientist from Altis Biologics, a company focusing on the development of novel biomaterials for tissue engineering of bone and Mr York Zucchi, a Swiss investor and entrepreneur, based in Africa since 2007.

The session was moderated by Mr McLean Sibanda, CEO of The Innovation Hub.

Representing the CSIR Mphahlele reminded delegates that while important, IP is only one component of a broader discussion on business models.

“Although the discussion is about IP commercialisation, IP really is not what the game is about. The game is about the development and validation of viable business models,” he said.

He spoke of the relevance of scientific proof and publishing results as ingredients for success.

Rabana said that IP, particularly within the Internet and mobile web world, defined by quick development and turnaround of product, is not as regulated as it is within other sectors/ fields. “So it is not a case in which patents protect intellectual property… it is really around how well you understand the gap you are trying to fill, the customers you are trying to meet, how quickly you can scale and how well you get what you are trying to do. In that sense, IP remains in the areas of trademark and just protecting and copywriting.”

According to The Innovation Hub, there are a number of critical factors that play a role in identifying the most effective means of commercialisation, including the competitive landscape for that field, freedom to operate, the available resources in a business, exchange control regulations and market strategy.

Chris Tredger – Online Editor