Washington, DC – The International Intellectual Property Institute (IIPI) recently hosted an International Conference on Technology Transfer for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises. On April 4-6, 2001 guests and participants gathered at the George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC for an in-depth examination of how technology transfer can assist developing countries in facilitating economic growth.

Fernando Jimenez-Ontiveros from the Inter-American Development Bank highlights a point
Sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the UN-agency assigned to intellectual property issues, the conference dealt with issues surrounding the transference of public sector-sponsored research into viable commercial products. The conference focused on technology transfer as a tool for economic growth in developing countries. Speakers included representatives from leading academic institutions, federally-funded laboratories, multilateral development agencies, think-tanks, associations and the private sector.

Vicki Allums discusses the USPTO’s experience
The conference was chaired by noted patent scholar Martin J. Adelman, director of the IP law program at GWU. It began on April 4, 2001 with Professors Michael P. Ryan and Paul Almeida of Georgetown University setting the stage by giving a theoretical background for the importance of harnessing intellectual assets and creativity for economic development. The first panel examined and explained the US experience, including legislation, infrastructure and existing programs that facilitate technology transfer. During a luncheon, Ernest Rubio, Director of WIPO’s Development for Cooperation Bureau for Latin America and the Carribean, spoke about WIPO’s activities in this area. Capitalzing on the expertise of the region, Mr. Steven L Fritz presented a case study from his organization, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (Tedco). The day concluded with a panel that emphasized technology transfer experiences in Latin America. Vicki Allums updated the audience on the US Patent and Trademark Office’s activities in Latin America, including their September 2000 “Symposium of the Americas” while Mr. Fernando Jimenez-Ontiveros spoke about the Inter-American Development Bank’s efforts to promote development through investment in technical cooperation activities in the region.

Bob Sherwood delivers a luncheon speech
Day 2 highlighted the experience of countries in other regions of the world, with several exciting presentations. Joseph Battat from the Foreign Investment Advisory Service of the World Bank discussed the relationship between Foreign Direct Investment and technology transfer. His presentation was followed by a panel of noted experts of Chinese and Asian law, Mark A. Cohen of Cohen & Associates and Andy Y. Sun, Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Legal Institute. Mr. Kohei Ishimaru, a vice president of the Japan Technomart Foundation, explained his company’s efforts to harness IP-based assets, as well as the Japanese approach to licensing agreements and technology transfer. Following a coffee break, there was a panel addressing experiences with technology transfer in Arab countries and Africa, with Mr. Sumir Mansour representing the Jordanian Embassy and Mr. Pierre Rosseau of the South East Consortium for International Development.

WIPO’s Wolfgang Starein
The final day of the event consisted of a site visit to Human Genome Sciences, Inc., (HGS) a prominent biotechnology firm located in Rockville, MD. HGS agreed to give a tour of their new facility and host a luncheon. HGS is an excellent example of how technology transfer functions in practice, as it grew from a small business based on the expertise developed by NIH-sponsored research of the human genome.

Dr. Severson shares his expertise about AUTM
The conference resulted in a greater understanding of the importance of technology transfer in economic development. Due emphasis was given to the need for cooperation between universities, governments and the private sector in developing countries and especially the role that international multilateral organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, IMF and WIPO, can play in promoting development through efficient use of knowledge-based resources.

Andy Sun of the Asia Pacific Legal Institute and GWU’s Professor Martin Adelman
To receive conference materials or find other information, please e-mail Stetson Sanders.