Protection of IP for Grassroots Innovation

The protection of intellectual property (IP) for grassroots innovation will be discussed at a seminar hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) on 21 May 2019 in Pretoria.

Grassroots innovation differs from mainstream innovation in that it primarily has a social purpose created at the bottom of the income pyramid. Grassroots innovation usually originates in the developing world and is borne out of necessity, adversity and challenges. As such, these solutions address localised problems, usually without a conducive and formal platform to scale up and expand.

Many grassroots innovators use indigenous or traditional knowledge to develop products or services and appropriate mechanisms to govern and support grassroots innovation processes, including intellectual property rights, should be explored.

The seminar seeks to explore how current IP systems and processes work in the South African setting; interrogate how national IP policies can be harnessed or adapted for grassroots innovation; identify mechanisms applied by different institutions to support grassroots innovation; identify IP-related innovation bottlenecks; interrogate IP-related innovation metrics and how these can be adapted when designing policy and regulatory frameworks; look at ways to combine knowledge, technology, innovation and IP with social and economic development objectives in the South African setting; explore how innovation can be sustainable and properly managed to benefit society through IP and other systems, and evaluate the future of grassroots innovation.

The half-day seminar forms part of the Innovation for Inclusive Development (IID) learning interventions aimed at demonstrating how innovative technology solutions may be used to advance local economic development.