The director-general of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. DanAzumi Ibrahim, has urged Nigerian researchers to concentrate more on research with the potential and capacity to translate into commercialised goods and services for the economic sustainability of the country.
Speaking at a one-day forum of owners of patents, themed “After Patent, what next?” organized by NOTAP in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State recently, he said there was a weak intellectual property (IP) culture in the country caused by poor knowledge of its importance to the economy of the nation.
Ibrahim decried the quality of research and development (R&D) results coming from the Nigerian knowledge institutions which, according to him, was largely caused by poor funding and misplaced priorities. He added that it was expensive to undertake critical research that will metamorphose into tangible products and services; hence the need to increase research funding.
He said developed nations progress as a result of the quality of R&D results emanating from their knowledge establishments. He said their universities and polytechnics are self-sustaining because of the huge resources which go to them as royalties from licensing of R&D results.
Ibrahim said that the office was established to regulate the inflow of foreign technologies into the country through the registration of technology transfer agreements and, at the same time, encourage the development of indigenous technologies.
The DG further stated that in carrying out the responsibilities of the office, the agency observed that over 90 per cent of the technologies that power the Nigerian economy were foreign which, for a country aspiring to be economically self-sustainable, is unacceptable. He said that technologies were products of research and research is undertaken by the knowledge institutions; therefore, Nigerian universities and polytechnics need to lean towards problem-solving research.
He stated that to sensitise Nigerians and bridge the knowledge gap in the field of intellectual property rights (IPR), the office in 2006 in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) initiated the establishment of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTOs) in some knowledge institutions across the country.
The director-general said that the move was geared towards tailoring the minds of Nigerian researchers towards problem-solving instead of engaging in conventional research for career progression. He encouraged researchers to patent their R&D results before publishing, as any research published before patenting is already in the public domain and can be exploited by anybody.
A statement by the agency’s assistant chief public relations officer, Raymond Ogbu, reiterated that patenting of inventions and innovations was a major step towards the commercialisation of research results, adding that it was important for researchers to ensure they commercialize their inventions or license them to venture capitalists. Patents, he said, are liabilities to the owners when they are not commercialised.
Ibrahim encouraged the participants to write bankable research proposals to donor agencies to ensure that they engage in research that will translate into goods and services as government funding will remain inadequate.