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WIPO Academy – Building Practical IP Skills for Growth and Development


By Sherif Saadallah, Executive Director, WIPO Academy

The WIPO Academy (the Academy) is the world’s leading provider of intellectual property (IP) training and education. Since its establishment in 1998, the Academy has trained over a million participants from all regions of the world, enabling them to effectively assimilate and take advantage of today’s complex and ever-changing global IP environment.  

Since its establishment 25 years ago, the WIPO Academy has trained over a million participants from across the globe.

The Academy’s people-first approach ensures that IP training opportunities are accessible to everyone interested in using the IP system, including entrepreneurs, innovators, women, local and Indigenous communities, academics and young people.

The Academy’s people-first approach ensures that IP training opportunities are accessible to everyone …

This approach paid off during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that period, the Academy delivered a range of tailored online courses for entrepreneurs to support the use of IP for business development and growth. Notwithstanding the challenges it posed, the pandemic presented a unique opportunity to explore new and more effective ways to deliver IP education.

Students from the Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Intellectual Property (IP), jointly offered by the WIPO Academy and the University of Turin, with the support of the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC-ILO) on a study visit to WIPO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo: Berrod / WIPO)

Reaching out to new target groups

As governments continue to grapple with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and challenging economic headwinds, policymakers everywhere recognize that innovation and creativity are key to global economic recovery and building back better. In turn, we see growing demand for practical IP skills that enable creators, innovators and entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into competitive businesses for economic, social and cultural benefit. That is why the WIPO Academy is now focusing on IP skills training to provide participants with the practical knowledge and tools they need to navigate the IP system effectively.

The WIPO Academy is focusing on IP skills training to provide participants with the practical knowledge and tools they need to navigate the IP system effectively.

Driven by the firm belief that IP is relevant to everyone, everywhere, the Academy is now reaching out to those groups who stand to benefit most from a practical understanding of how to use the IP system, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

While traditionally perceived as a field for lawyers, today, IP is widely recognized as a powerful tool that can support the ambitions and goals of people from all backgrounds all over the world. As such, the Academy is delivering IP training materials that are accessible, easy-to-understand, multilingual, practical and relevant to anyone interested in engaging with the IP universe.

Upskilling entrepreneurs with practical IP tools

According to the World Bank, SMEs represent 90 percent of all businesses and more than 50 percent of global employment.  SMEs operating in the formal sector contribute up to 40 percent of GDP in emerging economies. That percentage is even higher when SMEs in the informal sector are included. However, in today’s challenging economic environment, many of these companies are struggling to survive. Given their economic importance, it is imperative that we do all we can to support entrepreneurs, providing them with ready access to the IP knowledge and tools they need to become successful business owners and employers, creating job opportunities and driving economic recovery and growth.

For this reason, the use of IP in business has become an important focus of the Academy’s programs. Our network of IP Training Institutions (IPTIs) continues to expand rapidly and our training programs now also target the needs of SMEs within the creative and innovative sectors enabling them to take full advantage of the IP system to advance their business goals.

Today, an understanding of IP is central to running a successful business in all sectors.

With a sound understanding of IP rights, SMEs can protect and leverage the value of their innovative and creative products and services, increase the visibility and reputation of their businesses and avoid the costs of inadvertently infringing third-party IP rights. Today, an understanding of IP is central to running a successful business in all sectors.

That is why the programs offered by the Academy’s IP Training Institutions are tailored to local entrepreneurs in core industries, such as gastronomy, handicrafts, tourism and agriculture. Specifically, given the need to support post-pandemic economic recovery, our IP Training Institutions are actively working with local businesses to guide and assist them in identifying and seeking protection for their IP assets through mentorship and other training initiatives.

The WIPO Academy is further expanding its network of academic partners to include business schools, with new Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees focusing on IP, strategy and entrepreneurship in the pipeline. These programs will be available from 2024.

Our mission is to equip learners with the tools they need to deliver success.

While legal theoretical approaches to IP have their place, skills building is now the Academy’s central focus. Our mission is to equip learners with the tools they need to deliver success. We achieve this through programs that feature practical, real-world case studies, hands-on simulation exercises on IP commercialization, licensing, negotiation, branding and patent drafting (such as the new WIPO International Patent Drafting Training Program certification), along with practical checklists (as featured in our new distance learning Executive Course on IP and Exports) and work placements where possible. Through such experiential learning, our participants gain valuable insights about real-world IP challenges, and can apply their learning immediately.

Ramping up digital IP training and expanding participation

In 2020, the Academy pivoted towards virtual and hybrid delivery of its programs. The Academy’s enhanced state-of-the-art e-Learning platform now hosts courses in more than 10 languages, opening up opportunities for learners everywhere.

All of the Academy’s programs now include a distance learning component, offering participants greater convenience and flexibility as well as the opportunity to delve into our condensed micro-learning modules on the move via their mobile devices.

In 2020, the Academy pivoted towards virtual and hybrid delivery of its programs. Its enhanced e-Learning platform hosts courses in more than 10 languages, opening up opportunities for learners everywhere. (Photo: Berrod / WIPO)

Easier access to the Academy’s programs is already boosting participation. As an example, participation in the WIPO Summer Schools, which moved to a digital-only format during the pandemic, witnessed a 160 percent increase in participation in 2020 and 2021.

Greater participation is fueling demand for virtual textbooks and digital IP libraries from our partner universities and IP Training Institutions. To help meet this demand, the Academy established the WIPO International Network for IP Education (WINIPE), which digitally hosts and makes available, free-of-charge, more than 170 IP publications, textbooks and eBooks to all professors, lecturers, experts, current students and alumni of the WIPO Joint Master’s Degree Programs. Together, these exciting new developments are helping to reduce the environmental footprint of WIPO’s education and training initiatives.

Enhancing delivery of IP education through partnerships  

Our drive to introduce new audiences to IP underscores the unprecedented importance of partnerships. The Academy is now also delivering programs that enable countries from different regions to come together as partners to address key IP topics and learn from each other in the process. Over the past twenty years, the Academy has built an extensive network of partners, academics, experts and alumni. This core community plays a central role in enabling the effective delivery of IP knowledge and insights that our participants need to effectively navigate and benefit from the IP system.

The Academy’s expanding alumni community is testimony to the impact of our work on the new generation of IP movers and shakers.

The Academy’s expanding alumni community is testimony to the impact of our work on the new generation of IP movers and shakers. Our alumni come from government, academia, scientific research and business. Every day, they give back to the Academy and pay forward to the next cohort of learners, using their acquired knowledge and experience to support and broaden the effective use of IP by everyone, everywhere proving that IP can change lives.

The journey ahead

The evolution of the Academy’s programs, in particular, our new business-focused skills-building approach, expanded digital learning opportunities, new programs for certification and accreditation of knowledge and skills, our commitment to developing partnerships and our alumni network, are solid foundations for the Academy’s continuing success. There is, however, still a great deal more to be done, so we will continue to keep step with emerging IP training and education developments and pedagogical trends to ensure we continue to deliver high quality IP learning that is accessible to everyone.

Our aim is to grow an empowered community of IP users who share their knowledge and expertise and who inspire others to harness the potential of their innovative and creative ideas for the greater good. By working together to introduce IP and its benefits to new and more diverse audiences, we will continue to support the creation of inclusive innovation ecosystems for the benefit of all.

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