Makerere University Intellectual Property (IP) Management Office has urged researchers to register their IP and commercialise their innovations.

The Office Manager Canon Goddy Muhumuza and Administrator Peter Eneru were on Friday 20th October, 2023 meeting staff and researchers in the College of Computing and Information Sciences. The blended meeting held physically and online attracted over 20 researchers and was moderated by the Deputy Principal, Dr. Peter Nabende.

Canon Goddy Muhumuza presenting to CoCIS staff in the Conference Room Block A.

Muhumuza explained that protection and exploitation of research, research outputs and innovations are increasingly becoming important activities for universities all over the world.

Makerere University according to Muhumuza established the Intellectual Property Management Office (IPMO) on 15th July 2020 to identify and protect intellectual property within Makerere University.

“Intellectual Property protection is critical to fostering innovation. Without the protection of ideas, researchers and individuals would not reap the full benefits of their inventions and would focus less on research and development. Inventors, designers, developers, students, staff and authors can protect the ideas.” The manager explained.

Dean SCIT Dr. Joseph Balikuddembe and a staff member attending the meeting.

Currently, the Makerere University Intellectual Property Management Office is visiting colleges with the aim of sensitizing and guiding researchers, staff and students on Intellectual Property including the identification of the IP, the registration and protection of the IP and how to benefit from IP in future.

I am here for sensitisation on IP management and registration. Many researchers come up with many innovations which when not registered become useless. Books and innovations gone on shelves are gathering dust yet, if they are registered by Makerere University, researchers would benefit from them because Makerere University has an intensive policy of commercialising those projects”, Mr. Muhumuza said.

Benefits of IP and Ownership at Makerere University

 Intellectual Property (IP) according to Canon Goddy Muhumuza, refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works; designs and symbols, names and images used in commerce. Intellectual Property rights grant the owner of the work exclusive rights to exploit and benefit from his or her work.

Some of the Researchers attending the meeting.

The manager explained that IP provides an incentive to the innovators to be able to benefit from the result of their endeavour. The legal protection of innovations encourages the commitment of additional resources for further innovation. In addition, the promotion and protection of IP spurs economic growth, creates jobs and enhances the quality and enjoyment of life.

Muhumuza highlighted that under the Intellectual Property Rights, the inventor can get copyright, patents, designs and, trademarks and trade secrets protection to shield an invention or creation from being duplicated or copied by another individual or business.

The manager highlighted that the creator or originator of the idea, work, or novel invention is presumed to own the IP to their creation. However, if the work was created as part of a work-made-for-hire agreement, or in an employer-employee agreement, a student, the IP belongs to the university.

Manager IPMO Goddy Muhumuza presenting during the meeting.

Once an asset is registered, Muhumuza said, all parties agree on which pathway and benefits to be shared.

“According to the Intellectual Property Management Policy, innovators are getting 80% which is almost all and the university gets 20%, of this, 10% goes back to the innovators department, 5% to management and 5% goes to graduate school. So the university is encouraging as many innovations as possible”, Muhumuza stressed.

Process simplified, Mak Innovation Hub to support commercialisation

The manager said, what the researcher, student or any other individual needs is to declare the IP at the Intellectual Property Management office, and wait for the certificate to be delivered.

“The process is that once you get your IP, you come to the Intellectual Property Management Office, in Yusuf Lule building room 3.2 and you bring your innovation both physical and in writing. And you leave it with us. We submit to URSB, we pay submission, search and certificate fees, and for you, you will be notified that you have got the certificate. You do not need anything to pay. The university pays everything”. The manager asserted.

Muhumuza added that since its inception, the office has managed to register, protect and receive 20 certificates for various IP while 13 IPs have been filled but pending approval by URSB in 2023.

He said Makerere University Innovation hub was established on 1st August 2022 under the Vice Chancellor’s office to provide support mechanisms for commercialisation of innovations for sustainable industrialisation with several projects being implemented.

Dr. Joyce Bukirwa Muwanguzi of CoCIS reading the Innovation Hub and Property Management Office brochure.

The objectives of the Innovation hub according to Muhumuza are; to create awareness and disseminate information on innovation, develop tailored demand driven programmes, mobilise resources to nature and support innovation; develop, commercialise and scale up innovations for industrialisation and, strengthen and coordinate the innovation ecosystem through partnerships and linkages.

Up to 2.7 bn grant from Mak-RIF earmarked for scaling and commercialising innovations

The manager told participants that up to 2.7bn shilling will fund innovation projects that have progressed beyond the proof of concept stage and are at the stage of transition to wide scale application or commercialisation.

To be eligible for funding, Muhumuza said, the   innovation should be ready to transition to scale and where the Principal innovator is an academic or research staff of Makerere University on permanent or full time contract or senior staff member of the administrative unit linked to research.

Accessibility to the grant involves an online competitive application, project check for eligibility and completeness, pitch to Intellectual Property Management and receiving funds supported by the Mak Hub.

Mak IP Policy

The Makerere University IP policy as per section 3.2.3 provides guidelines for ownership, registration, patenting, commercialisation and disclosure.

The Manager explained that researchers shall seek the assistance of the IP unit in applying for registration of copyright, patents, designs or trademarks under the relevant laws or when trying to commercialise the innovation.

Deputy Principal CoCIS Dr. Peter Nabende making the closing remarks.

Any discovery or invention resulting from research carried or under the direction of any employee of the university, supported by the university or results arising from an employees’ duties with the university or has been developed in whole or part of this in the use of the university resources or facilities not available to the general public shall belong to the university.

Also, any IP created by a university employee having an honorary appointment at any other institution during that appointment shall lie with the employer who pays the salary of that employer.

Further, Honorary researchers who are not employed by the university are generally required to transfer any IP they create in the course of their honorary activities to the university subject to terms and conditions of their honorary appointment. Sharing proceeds from such IP shall follow university established guidelines.

Left to Right: Dr. Peter Nabende, Dr. Joyce Bukirwa Muwanguzi and Peter Eneru exchanging contacts after the meeting.

While closing the meeting, the Deputy Principal CoCIS, Dr. Peter Nabende thanked Mr. Muhumuza for the presentation saying, it touched a number of aspects relating to IP.

“It is an exciting presentation that has raised awareness on what staff should know. It is encouraging and motivating to know that the innovator gets 80%. I thank the IP Office for being effective and managing to come here to present”, Dr. Nabende appreciated.

 He encouraged college staff to take on the IP issue seriously imploring the IP office to provide another opportunity to sensitise students on the same matter.

For please click on the link below for the meeting proceedings

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