By Juan Carlos Suarez D, Director of the Legal Office of Innovation, IP and Tech Transfer, María Camila Duque D., IP lawyer of the Legal Office of Innovation, IP and Tech Transfer, Sara Sofía Roncancio, IP technical advisor of the Legal Office of Innovation, IP and Tech Transfer Office, University of El Bosque, Colombia
For many years, like many other private and state universities, Colombia’s El Bosque University recognized the importance of intellectual property (IP) but did not make it a priority. However, in 2019, the University ramped up its approach to IP to create a dynamic innovation ecosystem. This involved establishing a hub for innovation, education and entrepreneurship, known as HUB-iEX, where academics and entrepreneurs can work together to improve innovation performance and business growth. In parallel, the University set about designing and implementing an IP management strategy to support its nascent innovation ecosystem as well as its ambition to become a global reference for the management of IP in the academic sector.
To this end, within the framework of HUB-iEX, the University established the Legal Office for Innovation, IP and Technology Transfer (OLIE) to conceptualize and implement its IP management strategy. Over the past three years, OLIE has played a leading role in developing and implementing the University’s IP management strategy, which is tailored to the specific needs of an academic setting. OLIE’s leadership team includes two IP lawyers, namely, Juan Carlos Suárez and María Camila Duque and a bioengineer, Sara Sofía Roncancio. Each member of the team has benefitted from complementary IP training on technology transfer and IP commercialization from WIPO.
The University’s approach is already paying dividends both in terms of the uptake and use of the IP system and in facilitating technology transfer opportunities.
OLIE’s approach is distinctive in that it puts students, researchers, professors, entrepreneurs, innovators, and allied companies at the heart of the IP management strategy, offering them a series of practical support services, tools and resources to accelerate the use of IP across the university and beyond.
The approach is already paying dividends both in terms of the uptake and use of the IP system and in terms and in facilitating technology transfer opportunities.
For example, in 2021, a research team led Jaime Castellanos and Eliana Calvo, developed a cost-effective technology to detect COVID-19. The solution generated very positive results in testing. With the support of the OLIE, the researchers submitted a national patent application in Colombia and subsequently filed an international patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) to protect it in various other markets. OLIE is also helping the researchers gain the necessary regulatory approval for their technology and is further supporting negotiations for its commercialization.
Another of the University’s research teams led by Sandra Perdomo, has developed a promising biosensor for detection of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Again, OLIE supported the team in filing a national patent application to protect the technology in Colombia and in seeking international protection through the PCT. OLIE is currently working with the researchers, guiding them through the technology transfer process for its commercialization.
Auditing the commercial potential of university IP assets
One of the first tasks undertaken by the OLIE was to conduct a detailed survey of inventions under development within the University with potential for technology transfer. Each invention was evaluated from both a technical and a legal perspective to ascertain its potential for commercialization. To date, the University has 13 technologies for which patents are in process or have been secured and which are on a pathway to commercializion.
Other features of El Bosque’s IP Management Strategy
Other important features of the University’s IP Management Strategy include:
- An IP and technology transfer policy: In February 2022, the University launched its new IP and Technology Transfer Policy . This Policy provides all stakeholders with clear guidelines on how to use, protect, and exploit the intellectual property rights generated from University research. The policy also clearly sets out the relevance of IP to innovation and entrepreneurship, the incentives for researchers, inventors and creators, and the university’s approach to technology transfer and commercialization of research results.
- A special IP program for researchers and professors: This short virtual program offers a practical explanation of the key IP moments and considerations in preparing and rolling out an R&D project. Over the last two years, the University has trained more than 150 researchers and professors through this program. The University also offers specialized workshops on the strategic value and use of patent information for researchers involved in R&D projects.
- An institutional IP program for entrepreneurs: The program, known as, “Entrepreneur protect your Trademark” raises awareness among entrepreneurs about why they need to protect their trademarks and how to do so. The program, which runs every semester, offers free expert advice on the protection and management of trademark rights. So far, more than 70 entrepreneurs have benefitted from the program and have gone on to protect and use their trademarks in the market.
- An IP mentoring program for universities: This short, virtual program draws on the University’s IP Management experience and shares the insights gained. The program is designed to support the development of the IP and Innovation ecosystems in universities in Colombia and beyond. Through the OLIE, the University has organized a variety of institutional mentorship programs on how to create and develop an effective IP management system for universities in Colombia, Ecuador (jointly with the Ecuadorian Corporation for the Development of Research and the Academy (CEDIA)), and Peru (jointly with the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI)).
- A certification program on how to use IP in R&D projects: The University recently launched a certification program for companies, public institutions, research centers, and universities on how to use IP in their R&D activities. The practical focus of the program is designed to support skills development to enable the effective use, protection and exploitation of IP generated from R&D projects. Currently, a group of 20 selected participants of the R&D department of the Colombian National Army are following this certification program.
- Technology and Innovation Support Center (TISC): In 2019, the University joined WIPO’s global network of Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISCs). Through its TISC, with the support of the Colombian IP Office (Superintendence of Industry and Commerce), the University offers advice to students, professors, researchers, innovators, and others on how to navigate patent databases and other IP-related information resources to support their R&D activities. In line with the University’s research focus, the El Bosque University TISC has a special focus on health sector. The TISC recently supported the Health Think Tank (INNOS) in creating a series of ten video clips that outlines the common IP issues arising within the health sector. The content is available on INNOS website.
- A special module for students from diverse academic backgrounds: The University has broken new ground in creating a module on IP, innovation and creativity for students from diverse academic backgrounds. The module, which was launched in February 2022 (and runs every semester), allows any student enrolled in El Bosque University programs to learn about IP from a practical perspective, and to discover its relevance to topical issues, including social media, film and television series, music, video games, and technology. The aim is to support the next generation of inventors and creators and to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to leverage the value of their work through effective use of the IP system.
- An IP protection strategy: The OLIE offers technical and legal services to identify, protect, and manage the University’s innovative and creative outputs variously with patents, design rights, trademarks, and copyright. As noted, since 2019, the OLIE has been maintaining a comprehensive catalogue of the inventions under development at the university and their potential for successful technology transfer, especially through private sector collaborations and/or commercial licensing.
- An IP window to join the University’s IP Community: In line with the heightened interest in IP among universities in Colombia and elsewhere, El Bosque University has created a virtual IP window for users to exchange views, share experiences and seek advice on IP-related matters. Anyone linked to the University may join this virtual space to improve their knowledge of IP.
El Bosque University will continue to strengthen its ties with other universities in Colombia and elsewhere to facilitate transfer of technologies […] to ensure that their research results reach the market and benefit consumers.
Going forward, the University plans to build on the successes of recent years in implementing its IP management strategy and to further strengthen its outreach to smaller and younger universities to support them in identifying and managing their IP. The University is also planning to activate special IP management support for entrepreneurs, inventors, startups and institutions operating in the health sector to support the development of Colombia’s health innovation ecosystem. And finally, the University will continue to strengthen its ties with other universities in Colombia and elsewhere to facilitate transfer of technologies developed within the university setting and their commercialization to ensure that their research results reach the market and benefit consumers.
El Bosque University – IP Management Highlights
- An active IP & Technology Transfer Policy.
- An operative Technology and Innovation Support Center (TISC).
- A one-stop shop for the university community to explore issues relating to IP and Tech Transfer (Legal Office of Innovation, IP and Technology Transfer).
- 13 technologies developed by the University with associated patents (9 of them are health-related technologies).
- Four inventions where the technologies are being transferred to private companies.
- 150+ researchers and professors trained in IP and R&D projects.
- 70+ entrepreneurs advised on trademark registration.
- A module for students from diverse academic backgrounds on IP for creators and innovators.
- A certification program on IP and R&D for institutions.
About the HUB-iEX at El Bosque University
HUB-iEX is an innovation center to promote and boost national and regional innovation and entrepreneurship.
The hub was created to connect innovators, companies and universities and to galvanize their creative and inventive capacities to solve technical, social and industrial problems.
Multi-party collaborative innovation is at the heart of HUB-iEX, where IP management and technology transfer are key strategic elements.
HUB-iEX at El Bosque has been recognized by the national government as a specialized node for health innovation.
WIPO’s Role in Supporting Technology Transfer
WIPO supports the transfer of technology from universities and research labs to business and public users by enabling the creation of institutional innovation ecosystems in academic institutions. These ecosystems are designed to support an open, inclusive, multi-stakeholder dialogue among all actors.
In so doing, the aim is to help ensure that the benefits of scientific advances emerging from academia are broadly enjoyed by society. WIPO lends its expertise and draws on its network of experts, practitioners and stakeholders to support universities in a wide range of activities, strategically focusing on the main pillars of innovation ecosystems. These include:
- Creation of a favorable legal framework – support for the development of national technology transfer policies and harmonized templates for university IP policies, including conceptualization and implementation at the institutional level;
- Providing policy and operational support in setting up intermediary technology transfer structures – technology transfer offices (TTOs) / Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISCs), Techno Parkes, TTO/TISC Networks;
- Supporting the development of the human capital and skills required to commercialize research outputs, such as negotiating skills and the ability to appraise the value of intangible assets, to ensure they are widely available;
- Programs addressing market challenges of academic institutions, such as funding;
- Specialized technology transfer resources ̶ IP tools, including in specific areas, such as the life sciences;
- Country/region-related technology transfer projects – assessing identified needs and proposing sustainable solutions;
- Offering ready access to information on good practices and practical tools via the WIPO website on IP and technology transfer and other forums, such as the TISC network.