350. Australia welcomes the opportunity to introduce the discussion on intellectual property, inclusive innovation and micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs). Australia acknowledges our fellow co-sponsors: the European Union, Switzerland, Japan, the United States and Chinese Taipei.
351. This overarching topic recognises the positive role MSMEs play in the global economy and the wider contributions they make to trade, growth, investment and competition; as well as social and economic development. As foreshadowed in document IP/C/W/622, it is proposed to consider three elements of this important topic, Inclusive Innovation and MSMEs, at each of the TRIPS Council Meetings to take place this year; firstly, MSME collaboration; secondly, MSME growth; and, thirdly, MSME trade. Australia extends an invitation to all Members to share national experiences, policies and practices under each of these themes, with a focus on intellectual property and innovation.
352. Australia is pleased to introduce the first theme: Innovation and MSME Collaboration, as set out in document IP/C/W/625 for discussion today. Australia acknowledges that MSME collaboration has many benefits for developed, developing and least developed countries. Through collaboration, MSMEs can share information, ideas and research and can establish themselves in global value chains. Collaboration models can take shape in many forms: from public-private and inter-firm partnerships, research and development opportunities, start up or accelerator hubs and entrepreneurial ventures.
353. Intellectual property rights play a key role in MSME collaboration. Intellectual property frameworks encourage creative endeavour, incentivise investment, and promote the sharing of ideas and knowledge. Australia has established a number of IP and innovation initiatives to encourage MSME collaboration. Australia will take the opportunity today to outline some of these initiatives.
354. National Innovation and Science Agenda – Global Connections Fund: Under the National Innovation and Science Agenda, Australia introduced the Global Connections Fund ( GCF) to support SME collaboration. As part of the GCF’s Bridging Grants Programme, a researcher from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (RMIT), was awarded AUD50,000 to collaborate with an Indian research and biotech business to develop an eco-friendly solution to control powdery mildew and downy mildew, two diseases that devastate grapes in both countries. Both partners to this collaboration have created a framework under which intellectual property rights are shared. The expected outcome of the collaboration is a product that can be marketed globally.
355. National Innovation and Science Agenda - Global Innovation Linkages: Australia recently introduced the Global Innovation Linkages programme. It provides funding to assist Australian researchers and businesses, including SMEs, to collaborate with global partners on strategically focused, leading-edge research and development projects. It will advance Australia’s international collaboration and encourage Australian businesses, including SMEs, to leverage entrepreneurial expertise found in key locations overseas. Collaborations are encouraged in a range of economies including Brazil, United States, Singapore, Viet Nam, Israel, China, India, the EU and others.
356. National Innovation and Science Agenda – Landing Pads: At the November 2016 TRIPS Council meeting, Australia introduced the Landing Pads Program which is an initiative set up by the Australian Government to connect export ready Australian start-ups with access to some of world’s most renowned innovation and start up ecosystems in Berlin, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore and Tel Aviv. This Program has already produced some excellent results. For example, Event Workforce Group, a small, Australian-based technology start-up that develops apps to assist large businesses connect with talented staff members, has benefitted from the San Francisco Landing Pad. Through the collaboration established through the Landing Pad, Event Workforce Group has been able to develop its technology and services. Agreements relating to the protection of intellectual property have fostered this successful collaboration. Event Workforce Group has recently signed a contract to assist staff the 2018 Super Bowl in Minnesota, and the 2017 Alpine Skiing World Cup in Aspen.
357. IP Toolkit for Collaboration: IP Australia has developed an IP Toolkit for Collaboration, designed to simplify the management of IP in collaborations between researchers and businesses, including SMEs. It provides collaborations with checklists of key matters to consider when establishing a partnership and includes template contracts, confidentiality agreements and term sheets, as well as guides on developing partnerships and advice on the management of IP. This toolkit is specifically designed to assist small and medium-sized businesses and researchers to develop and build effective collaborations. The Toolkit reduces the need for legal advice, freeing up resources to focus on building the partnership and attracting funding. A Mini IP-Toolkit is also available for lower value or less complex collaborations.
358. Today, I have provided some examples of Australian IP and innovation initiatives that have promoted MSME collaboration within Australia and abroad. We encourage other Members to join us in sharing national practices today and under future discussions on MSME Growth and MSME Trade.