Durban to host NIMPO Conference, November 2013


There is currently a hot debate about how to best shape the future of innovation and new inventions in South Africa and Africa generally, as well as in the BRICS nations. South Africa and other African countries consider it a priority to motivate domestic inventions to spur economic and social growth, and welcome public discussion and involvement about how to accomplish this national and continental goal.

To this end, The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) along with the National IP Management Office (NIPMO) of South Africa are delighted to announce an upcoming jointly-sponsored conference on “Creating and Leveraging Intellectual Property in Developing Countries: A Power Tool for Social and Economic Growth” (Durban, 17- 20 November, 2013). This conference follows on from the successful meeting of the BRICS Heads of Patent Offices in Durban in May 2013.

CIPC and NIPMO are very pleased to announce that a keynote address will be delivered at the Gala dinner Tuesday, 19 November 2013 by Minister of Trade and Industry of South Africa, Rob Davis.  The Minister of Science and Technology of South Africa, Derek Hanekom, will deliver the opening address of the conference.

The conference will also feature the Inaugural African Exhibition Hall, where inventors and organisations from Africa will showcase their research and innovation. In addition, after the conference, a separate Boot Camp will be provided for selected attendees via a separate registration for capacity building and education of African entrepreneurs. The Boot Camp will be chaired by Professor Stephen Sammut (Senior Fellow, Wharton School of Business and Venture Partner, Burrill and Company) and Professor Venkant Chandrasekar (Clinical Professor,  Entrepreneurship and Executive Advisor – Indu Center for Real Estate and Infrastructure, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, India). Boot Camps are often described by participants as “drinking from a fire hose” but the intensity of the knowledge flow is an efficient way of garnering insights and gathering awareness of where further information and experience is needed before venturing forth into the world of technology entrepreneurship.

“The conference is bringing together an unparalleled list of over 30 African and international key government and industry leaders in the area of  entrepreneurship and innovation to discuss important issues of how to create and leverage intellectual property and patents to advance society.” said Sherry Knowles, international co-chair of the event, and Principal of Knowles IP Strategies.

The conference attendees will be joined via videoconference by leaders of patent offices from the BRICS countries.  Professor Robert Langer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and perhaps the most accomplished engineer in the world, who has created over 200 companies and holds over 800 patents, will be sharing his entrepreneurial expertise with delegates.  In addition, the Chief Intellectual Property Officers of both Johnson & Johnson (Philip C. Johnson) and Pfizer (Roy Waldron), Maaike Van Velzen, the global IP & Standards General Manager, Phillips Group Innovation, Netherlands and Morne Barradas (Lead IP Legal Advisor: Risk and Compliance, Sasol Group Services Sasolburg, South Africa) will discuss the importance of innovation and provide insights on how to African inventors can work with large industries. Gordon Myers, the Chief Counsel, Technology and Private Equity of the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group will address what initiatives the World Bank is taking to stimulate and support innovation in developing countries. Tatiana Saribekian, President of Domain Russian Investments in Moscow who has successfully pioneered cooperation agreements between the Russian government and US venture capital will describe the new Russian initiative to create new companies. Professor Dennis Liotta, the co-inventor of Emtricitabine, the most widely prescribed medicine for the treatment of HIV, will also participate and share his learnings.

In addition,The Effect of the National Patent System on the Perceived Investment Value of a Patent” will be discussed by Elena Zdravkova (Senior Manager, Patents and Designs, Companies and Intellectual Property Commission), Chief Judge James Smith (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board, James Pooley (Deputy Director, World Intellectual Property Organisation), and John Kabare (African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation, Zimbabwe).

The format will be a combination of lecturing, panel discussion, case studies, discussion and, possibly, presentations by local entrepreneurs seeking peer review of their ideas. Participants will receive hundreds of slides in soft copy, and a bibliography of recommended readings.

The conference is Co-Chaired by South Africans Astrid Ludin (Commissioner of Companies & IP Commission – an agency of the Department of Trade & Industry that includes the South African Patent Office) together with Jonathan Youngleson (Head of the National IP Management Office – an agency of the Department of Science & Technology) and international co-Chair Sherry Knowles (Principal at Knowles IP Strategies).

For more information, to view the programme and to register for this event, please visit or e-mail

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