The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) has engaged patentees in northern Nigeria to discuss modalities of moving their inventions and innovations to the next level of commercialisation.
Speaking at a one-day forum in Bauchi State, the NOTAP director-general, Dr. DanAzumi Ibrahim, said the forum will address the various challenges faced by researchers, inventors and innovators in moving their findings to the market for the socio-economic development of the nation.
He decried the current situation where over 90 per cent of the technologies that power the Nigerian economy are imported and noted that the tide must be stemmed to save the nation’s scarce foreign exchange. He added that the world has fast moved from resource to knowledge-based economy and Nigeria must not be left behind.
Ibrahim said that the forum will also provide the needed synergy between researchers and funding institutions to create the necessary impetus that would ensure that Research and Development (R&D) outputs from the nation’s knowledge centres are moved to the market as products and services.
The NOTAP boss revealed that the agency has through its regulatory role of registration and monitoring of technology transfer agreements saved the nation over N79.6 billion that would have left the nation’s borders as capital flight and initiated various programmes and policies such as the Local Vendor Policy, NOTAP-Industry Technology Transfer Fellowship (NITTF) and upgrade of chemical laboratories in institutions of higher learning/research institutes, in a bid to stimulate indigenous skills development in science, technology and innovation(STI).
Ibrahim noted that there was a need for researchers, inventors and innovators to protect their intellectual assets through patenting, stressing that NOTAP has, over the years, assisted them to do that free of charge and, as a result, 65 per cent of recent patents acquired by Nigerian researchers and inventors came through NOTAPs intervention.
In his remarks, the vice-chancellor, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi, Prof. Mohammed Abdulazeez represented by the director, research, innovation and development, ATBU, Prof. Fatima Sawa said Nigeria cannot make any meaningful progress without investment in research, science, technology and innovation.
He commended NOTAP for organising the forum noting that it will help the nation in moving forward technologically pointing out that no one will develop our nation and it, therefore, behoves Nigerians to support the patriotic moves by NOTAP to instil the culture of science, technology and innovation (STI) for the nation’s socio-economic development.
Abdulazeez said a lot has been done in research and development but most of them are lying on the shelves without being deployed for use but said the forum will help solve the issues relating to commercialisation of R&D outputs. She said ATBU has a strong partnership with NOTAP and that the present northeast zonal office of the agency is domiciled within the university campus.
She commended NOTAP for the establishment of the Intellectual Property Technology Transfer Office (IPTTO) in ATBU and the input of the DG in the institution’s organized workshop on research funding for universities in the northeast. Also, he noted that it has enhanced the quality and output of research work in the institutions in the region and led to an increase in concept paper notes by researchers in ATBU from 6 last year to 32 this year.
The director-general, Bauchi Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Sani Tahir Hamid, said there are many promising businesses developed by members of the chamber but are greatly challenged by funding. He commended NOTAP for organising the forum which he believed strongly would address salient issues faced by researchers and entrepreneurs in protecting and commercialising their research outputs.
The immediate past vice chancellor, ATBU, Prof. Saminu Abdulrahman said Nigeria needs to move from the double helix to the triple helix approach noting that the double helix approach was implemented by ATBU in the past but failed to produce meaningful results. He said the idea of bringing government, researchers and the industry together to find ways to develop STI which NOTAP is promoting through the forum is the right way to go. He added that NOTAP intervention in providing the necessary infrastructure for research in ATBU was timely as it led to the accreditation of the institution from interim to full accreditation.
In his goodwill message, the executive secretary, National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Prof. Idris Bugaje represented by the director, NBTE northeast zonal office, Bauchi, Hussaini Muhammed revealed that the board recently commissioned an R&D exhibition centre where all the research efforts of technical institutions in the country are on display. While commending NOTAP for organising the forum to sensitise patentees on the way forward, he suggested that government institutions responsible for co-coordinating and promoting research and development activities in the country should visit the NBTE R&D centre to identify and nurture commercialisable research efforts for the economic progress of the country.
Similarly, the vice president, north, Association of Nigerian Inventors (ANI) Eng. Sadeeq Mohammed commended NOTAP for the tremendous support it is giving to members of the association saying it has given them hope that their efforts towards the technological advancement of the nation are being recognised.
In a presentation on ‘Patent Protection in Nigeria’, the registrar, patent & designs registry, Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, represented by Barr. Rabi Garba Sari highlighted the various procedures for the registration of patents. She advised all those with inventions and innovations to make sure they secure them by applying and obtaining their patent certificates from the patent registry, since, according to her, failure to do so may lead to the theft of their intellectual assets.
Presenting a paper on ‘Intellectual Property Rights Exploitation through Licensing’, the director, technology acquisition and research coordination, NOTAP, Mrs. Carol Anie-Osuagwu defined Intellectual Property (IP) according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as “Creations of the mind – everything from works of art to inventions, computer programs to trademarks and other commercial signs.” She called it “a product of human endeavour; intangible (non-material and non-physical), but valuable and original”.
A statement by NOTAP’s head of public relations and protocol, Solomon Nshem, said the forum drew top researchers, inventors and innovators from both the public and private universities, research institutions and business associations in northern Nigeria.