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Why govt should see innovation as business, protect IP rights for SMEs

For reasons of adding to the national gross domestic product and growing the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), government should begin to see innovation as serious business, experts have said.

Government should also see the need to sign various reviewed intellectual property (IP) laws in order to protect IP rights, encourage and boost the morale of inventors, entrepreneurs and professionals.

This was the position of professionals who gathered all over the world to mark the 2021 World Intellectual Property Day which had as theme, ‘IP & SMEs: Taking Your Ideas to Market’.

The IP Day which is celebrated annually by member-states of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) explores the role that IP rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity, and also ensuring that inventors and creators get fair reward for their efforts so as to earn a living from it.

In Lagos, Nigeria, the Business Assets and Intellectual Property (BA&IP) Valuation division of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) joined partners, innovators, IP owners and users globally to mark this year’s edition which was dedicated to SMEs.

“SMEs are the backbone of national economies. They deliver the goods and services we need everyday and hatch innovations and inspiring creations; they create jobs; some become the world leading businesses of tomorrow,’’ Lekan Akinwunmi, chairman, BA&IP Valuation, noted on the IP Day.

He was of the view that the import of the synergy between IP and the SMEs could not be over emphasized, noting that many times an SME owner did not have the capital to thrive or compete favorably at a time when getting a loan from banks is not easy.

In such a case, the SME owner could go to market with ideas which makes it an IP-based transactions. “Ideas are translated to products we buy in the market place,” he said.

According to WIPO, SMEs make up around 90 percent of the world’s businesses, employ around 50 percent of the global workforce and generate up to 40 percent of national income in many emerging economies, and this could be more informal businesses are included.

But Akinwunmi lamented that many SMEs are yet to discover the importance of IP in their business because the awareness is not that clear to some. They don’t even knows the value.

“The journey to market can be perilous. But with a focus on IP, businesses can anticipate, navigate and better manage the many twists and turns that pave the road to commercialization,” he said.

He surmised that to really achieve optimal returns on innovations in SMEs, IP valuation is critical to develop the market, pointing out that this year’s theme should be an eye opener to finance institutions and insurance firms to design modalities of accepting IP as collateral.

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