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Innovation, Makerspaces, and the Future: A Lesson from the University of Pretoria

Creativity is a key ingredient in innovation, and the University of Pretoria’s (UP) makerspace screams it from the moment one arrives; the walls are brightly painted orange and green, there are several large tables surrounded by equally bright chairs, and along the back and side walls lay computers, makerbot 3D printers, and, of course, a coffee machine. Currently, UP is the only South African university with a ‘formal’ makerspace, although many, including the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University, are working to establish their own official makerspaces.

Evidence-based Intellectual Property Policymaking

The intellectual property system is a crucial part of economic policymaking worldwide. It affects matters of profound importance, including health, education, nutrition, culture, science, technology and innovation policy. One might assume, therefore, that the global governance of intellectual property rights rests on a solid foundation of evidence. Think again. For over a century, intellectual property policy has been based largely on theoretical assumptions and political lobbying.

Beyond the Poster Boy of the Maker Movement

Some people tour Europe’s finest vineyards others tour Australia’s sweetest surf spots—I tour South Africa’s pioneer makerspaces; part of the growing global maker movement. The movement is a culmination of people becoming “makers” (someone who uses their personal abilities to create anything from mechanical or electrical to visual or musical) and spaces becoming makerspaces (an interdisciplinary area stimulating people to create by providing resources and idea sharing).

Twitter Recap of the Nairobi Workshop

Last month, Open AIR launched our inaugural case study workshop at the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology (CIPIT), part of Strathmore University’s Law School in Kenya, and one of Open AIR’s hubs. The workshop sought to provide successful case study participants with an opportunity to present their proposals and brainstorm with their colleagues.

Open AIR Case Study Nairobi Workshop

In the first week of April 2016, the Open African Innovation Research and Training (Open AIR) network held a three-day workshop at our Nairobi hub, Strathmore University. The workshop included the Open AIR team and was primarily organized to bring together all the successful case study researchers in order to review, refine, and brainstorm about their upcoming research. There was also significant activity on Twitter, which can be read about here. All the case studies that Open AIR is funding fall under at least one of our major research themes: high technology hubs, informal sector innovation, indigenous entrepreneurship, and metrics and policies.

Drawn Out Battle Over Genetic Resources Dampens Africa’s Hopes

The global South is full of significant, diverse biological and genetic resources. It’s also home to most of the world’s indigenous communities. This is why developing countries are sensitive about protecting their genetic resources and traditional knowledge.

Hani Morsi Presents in Cairo

Hani Morsi, an Open AIR Post-Doctoral fellow at the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) in Cairo, gave a seminar last week entitled “Beyond openness: Investigating the success factors of open approaches to collaboration and innovation”. This was part of the Brown Bag seminar series of AUC’s School of Business.

Prof. Osei-Tutu speaks at the University of Ottawa

Too often, scholarly work and debates relating to Intellectual Property (IP) have focused on the protection and profits of the IP holder, as opposed to promoting open-access and the broader interests of the community. In her talk at the University of Ottawa on February 9th, Professor Janewa Osei-Tutu suggested we readjust the lens through which IP innovation is examined, using human development as the standard.

Open AIR Presents at Fourth Global Congress on IP and the Public Interest

By Victor Nzomo In the midst of two decades of TRIPS and three decades of openness, more than 400 delegates from over 50 countries converged...

Is Creativity and Innovation All About Intellectual Property?

In the recently concluded ‘African Ministerial Conference: Intellectual Property for an Emerging Africa’ organized in part by WIPO (here), one cannot help but think that all roads leading to creativity and innovation are paved with intellectual property (IP) laws and institutions. Put differently, the level of creativity and innovation in a society is dependent solely on how we tinker with and enforce IP laws. This ‘IP parochialism’, as I call it, is manifest in the conference program. Of course, the response would be that the conference was solely about IP and as such there was no need to look beyond IP. This is an erroneous view.