Makerere Researchers Urged on Intellectual Property Rights

Researchers at Makerere University have been urged to drop the approach of aiming more for publishing their work in academic journals than working on innovations that can generate relevant solutions for the country’s development.

Speaking at inaugural Sweden – Makerere Days of Excellence event which will be marked annually to assess the nature of research arising from the partnership between Sweden and the university, Bemanya Twebaze, a lawyer who delivered the keynote address said researchers are only excited about publishing their work in journals. 

Twebaze, who is the Director General of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization, told researchers and students on Thursday that African researchers are publishing more but the expenditure on research does not match growth in innovations.

He said that at the university level, while students are creating intellectual property every day, Uganda’s education system is not training students to manage and protect their innovations. Twebaze says that intellectual property should be taught in all courses at the university.

Currently, he says there are numerous opportunities for research in the area of climate change and food security-related issues where if well studied a lot of innovations can result if the university partners with the right entities such as the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) that would then help in protecting their innovations. 

Mercy Kainobwisho, the Registrar General at URSB reveals only a few researchers have had their innovations filled at the bureau even as the university has already put in place an intellectual property and patenting entity.

She says that Uganda has very good laws on intellectual property but what is still lacking is enough awareness for innovators to see the relevance of having their works patented.

Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe said they have developed the capacity to behave like a university-led research hub where through partnerships they are even allowing lay people to work together on innovations with students.

With the newly established intellectual property management office, he says they will be able to protect innovations such that even when students complete their university studies, they are able to continue developing usable products.

However, Twebaze pointed out that women should be fully involved in research and they should gain as much as their male counterparts noting that data shows that female researchers tend to earn less from their innovations.

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