Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Lundeg Purevsuren

583.   We would like to thank the proponents for introducing this important item. South Africa has an active policy that promotes public-private partnership models. We followed a global trend in the popularity of PPPs by establishing a more formal PPP structure within the National Treasury in 1999. 584.   Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2017/18 – 2020/21, the latest annual iteration of a continuous action plan to re-industrialize our economy, sets out the implementation tasks. The plan stresses the pressing need for structural change in the economy. The severe shortage of human resources for R&D has been identified as a fundamental constraint to economic growth and R&D. There has been a distinct, if not deliberate, change in the profile of public (government) funding for R&D in South Africa since 2003. This change reflects an international trend in the role of governments with regard to their support for R&D. 585.   South Africa has a strong culture of innovation, supported by a well-established research base. In the 2019 Global Innovation Index by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), South Africa came in the 63rd place worldwide and first place in the Sub-Saharan region.9 South African universities and research institutions have done exceptionally well in producing world-class research and publications in peer-reviewed journals. However, there is still a gap in the National Innovation System (NIS), as most of the research outputs have not translated to commercially-viable products and services and the creation of new industries. 586.   In 2008 of the Ten-Year Innovation Plan. This plan proposed five 'bold interventions in critical areas', labelled as grand challenges and covering the bio-economy, space science and technology, energy security, global change science with a focus on climate change, and human and social dynamics. The Department of Science and Technology - and more broadly government in general - implemented the plan by directing at least a portion of the additional funding from the South African National Treasury to large projects with close alignment to the grand challenges. These projects included the Karoo Array Telescope (now the SKA) which in its first trail run discovered 1200 new galaxies that had never been observed and whilst 13-member countries are the cornerstone of the SKA, around 100 organizations across about 20 countries are participating in the design and development of the SK, the pebble bed modular reactor, the electric car (Joule), and the development of a HIV microbicide. 587.   The Government via its programs and agencies will embark on an extensive skills development programme aimed at training one million young people by 2030 in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Coding, Cloud computing and Networking. The South African Government’s commitment to ensuring greater inter-ministerial and intra-governmental coordination as well as supporting an Inventor Assistance Programme which was launched in October 2017, in partnership with WIPO to assist inventors to protect their IP with some assistance from IP lawyers and WIPO. 588.   Public funding of R&D has risen from 28% to 45% of gross domestic expenditure on R&D, and is now the dominant source of funds. Much of the additional funding has been allocated to universities, whose R&D performance - as measured by higher education expenditure on R&D - has risen from ZAR 3.6 billion in 2007 to ZAR 7.3 billion in 2012. Universities now account for 34% of the total R&D performance, up from 19% in 2007. South African universities have increased their activities in applied research. They have done so by establishing closer links with the private sector, setting up technology transfer offices, pursuing the registration and licensing of intellectual property arising from their R&D, and adopting the commercialisation of knowledge within institutions as a significant component of their mandates (in addition to teaching and research). Rising levels of public-funded R&D within universities has the additional benefit of producing the necessary human resources to directly support the economy's transition from a resource-based to a knowledge intensive structure. 589.   Higher education institutions are also forging links with private companies on applied research projects. The government’s huge Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (Thrip) embraces government, industry, science councils and higher education institutions in joint ventures to develop new technology and skills for the country. PPP remain an important tool available for the South African government to promote R&D in core areas that will promote the implementation of our National Development Plan and spur economic growth and development for all our citizens. 590.   In conclusions, in relation to the submission IP/C/W/657, we have a few questions:  Could Members share best practices on measures to ensure reasonable pricing agreements for publicly funded R&D?  What remedies do Members employ to mitigate the failure to disclose public funding on patent filings?

The Council took note of the statements made under this item.
65.   The Chair said that the item had been put on the agenda at the request of Australia; Canada; Chile; the European Union; Hong Kong, China; Japan; Singapore; Switzerland; the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; and the United States of America. Since the circulation of the revised draft agenda, this item had also been co-sponsored by Korea. These delegations had also submitted a communication on this topic, circulated in document IP/C/W/657 and Add.1, in order to allow Members to prepare for the present discussion. He invited the co-sponsors to introduce the item.
66.   The representatives of Switzerland; the United States of America; Chinese Taipei; the European Union; Japan; Australia; Hong Kong, China; Singapore; Canada; Korea; China; Brazil; Costa Rica; Norway; South Africa; and Ukraine took the floor.
67.   The Council took note of the statements made under this item.
IP/C/M/93, IP/C/M/93/Add.1

9 https://www.wipo.int/global_innovation_index/en/.