Researches and innovators in the College of Engineering, Design, Art and technology (CEDAT) have been encouraged to take advantage of the services that the University is offering in the registration of their Intellectual Property.
The call was made by Canon Goddy Muhumuza Muhanguzi, the Manager of the Intellectual Property Office, who together with Peter Eneru the Administrator, was at the college to appraise college staff about registration of Intellectual property on Wednesday 25th October 2023 in the College Boardroom.
He said Makerere University established the Intellectual Property Management Office (IPMO) on 15th July 2020 to identify and protect intellectual property within the University. The protection of Intellectual property is key in fostering innovation through the protection of ideas, researchers and individuals and to facilitate them to benefit from their inventions, he noted.
In terms of benefits from the Intellectual Property, Mr. Muhumuza explained that the researcher takes 80%, the university takes 10, while the rest goes to the unit despite the fact that the University pays for the registration of the IP.
“Intellectual Property protection is critical to fostering innovation. Without it the designers, developers, students, staff and authors cannot protect the ideas.” The IPMO Manager explained further.
While explaining the reason what the IPMO was conducting college-based meetings, Mr. Muhumuza noted that the aim was to sensitize and guide researchers, staff and students on Intellectual Property including the identification, the registration and protection of the IP and how they were to benefit from it in future.
“I am here for sensitization 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 and yet if they are registered by Makerere University, researchers would benefit from them because the University intends to commercialize those projects”, Mr. Muhumuza said.
He explained that Intellectual Property (IP) refers to creations of the mind that include inventions like 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, he emphasized.
Further he noted that Makerere University with over hundred years of existence would not be asking for money from Governmental had we embraced registration of Intellectual property much earlier. He encouraged innovators to keep their business ideas secret, document concepts in original form, apply for an IP protection and then register the trade secret after which make the investment.
While explaining the process, he said that once an innovator gets an IP, it is taken to the Intellectual Property Management Office located in Yusuf Lule building room 3.2, both physical and in writing. It is thereafter submitted to Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), and the office pays fees for submission, search and certification. It is after this that the innovator gets notification of certification.
Muhumuza added that since its inception, the office has managed to register, protect and receive 20 certificates for various IPs while 13 IPs have been filed but pending approval by URSB in 2023.
He said Makerere University established the innovation hub on 1st August 2022 under the Vice Chancellor’s office to provide support mechanisms for commercialization of innovations for sustainable industrialization with several projects being implemented. The objectives of the Innovation hub according to Muhumuza are; to create awareness and disseminate information on innovation, develop tailored demand driven programs, mobilize resources to nature and support innovation; develop, commercialize and scale up innovations for industrialization and, strengthen and coordinate the innovation ecosystem through partnerships and linkages.
He further explained thatup to 2.7bn shillings 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 commercialization.
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 the 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.