Welcome Address by Chief Executive, IPOS, at the Heads of Intellectual Property Conference (HIPOC)

Mr Naresh Prasad, Assistant Director General, World Intellectual Property Organisation

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Let me start by wishing you a warm welcome to Singapore. It is an honour to host Phase Seven of the Heads of Intellectual Property Office Conference for Countries in South Asia, Southeast Asia, Iran and Mongolia.

  2. It is not often that the Heads of so many IP Offices are able to gather to exchange insights and together consider the future direction of our work. But in a world that is changing so dramatically it is critical that we do this every now and then. I therefore want to thank the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for organising this event, and the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their support for this event under the Singapore Cooperation Programme.

  3. We are living in a world where IP is increasingly moving to the centre of our economy. Value in the global economy is increasingly shifting to intangible assets, like intellectual property, as our economies transform towards innovation driven growth. In fact, global intangible asset value surpassed US$60 trillion in 2018 just last year—more than half the total value of the global economy.

  4. This shift towards innovation is especially strong in our region, Asia. Within a 6-hour flight radius of Singapore where most of you in this room come from, 4 out of 10 dollars for Research and Development (R&D) are being spent and 6 out of 10 IP applications are being filed. From 2007 to 2017, IP filings in Asia grew at an average rate of 12.7 per cent—double the rate of IP filings in the rest of the world.

  5. Asian countries are consistently amongst the strongest performers in the Global Innovation Index. Many ASEAN countries are within the top 100 rankings. India, Malaysia and Thailand are in the top 10 performers in their respective income groups. Singapore is honoured to be ranked 8th this year.

  6. These developments open up opportunities to us as IP Offices. What is our role, and how do we participate or help drive or harness these trends for the good of our people and our countries? For an increasing number of us, this means that we as IP Offices also have to change and adapt—not only to be better registries or more skilful regulators, but also to become innovation agencies that help to build innovation ecosystems and nurture innovation communities.

  7. Allow me to share two of the ways I see IP Offices playing such a role. The first focuses on helping enterprises move their products more quickly to the market and the second focuses on helping governments better translate their innovation investments into economic outcomes.

    Supporting speed to market, especially in fast-moving technology areas

  8. First, IP Offices can support innovators and innovative companies in achieving speed to market. This is especially critical for fast-moving technology areas, like those connected to Industry 4.0.

  9. Regional and international cooperation, such as patent work-sharing, helps innovators to efficiently reach new markets with their technology and brands.

  10. Such cooperation has been an important part of the work for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) or ASEAN IP Offices, which has established the ASEAN Patent Examination Cooperation work-sharing programme, called ASPEC, for the past 10 years. Through the ASPEC programme, IP Offices from participating ASEAN Member States use each other’s search and examination results as references, helping applicants to obtain corresponding patents throughout the region.

  11. Today, I am happy to announce, marks a new chapter in our ASPEC journey. As the Chair of ASPEC, Singapore is honoured to share with you the start of the PCT-ASPEC pilot initiative. The scope of work products that IP Offices can rely on for ASPEC requests will now be broadened to include those under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) for a 3-year pilot phase. This provides another source of quality reports for ASEAN Member States to draw on when examining patent applications.

  12. IP Offices in ASEAN will also be embarking on a technology-specific project: the ASPEC Acceleration for Industry 4.0 Infrastructure and Manufacturing, or ASPEC AIM. Under this 2-year pilot programme, participating ASEAN IP Offices have committed to issuing the first office action for eligible applications within 6 months.

  13. This is a significant milestone for innovation in ASEAN. Industry 4.0, as you well know, is projected to deliver between US$1 to 3 trillion in gains globally. ASEAN has the potential to capture gains worth US$200-600 billion given our region’s significant manufacturing composition and increasing emphasis on innovation.

  14. IPOS has similarly developed specialised services at the national level. Following the launch of our FinTech Fast Track (FTFT) programme in April last year—where we committed to giving a patent grant with six months if it meets the quality standards—we launched a second fast track programme in April this year, the Accelerated Initiative for Artificial Intelligence—AI² for short—that accelerates grants of AI-related patent applications to just six months.

  15. This is part of our response at the national level to the huge interest in AI globally. Patent publications for AI-related inventions have grown at a rate of more than 20 per cent annually, over the past five years.

  16. As IP Offices become more attuned to market conditions and adapt to meet the needs of our innovators and enterprises, such industry-specific initiatives are likely to multiply.

    Facilitating innovation and IP commercialisation in the public sector

  17. Second, I also want to share with you that IP Offices are well placed to take on the role of enabling innovation in the public sector—the theme of our HIPOC event this week. In the search for solutions to meet public needs, significant public resources are invested into science and technology, often yielding a rich pool of knowledge and know-how. However, challenges remain in translating these into economic outcomes.

  18. As a Singaporean, one example that comes to mind are the building designs and technologies developed over the years in our public housing estates—where 80 per cent of our population calls home. Another area where we have developed a lot of know-how is in educational content that is developed by our Ministry of Education. We are beginning to license some of this content to other countries in order to support them in meeting their respective educational challenges.

  19. But in the larger picture, how should we as Governments and how should we as IP Offices manage these intangible assets that we being the Government are creating? How can we maximise them, to produce the greatest public benefit? And how can we do this in spite of our limited resources?

  20. With our technical expertise, IP Offices are in a good position to assist our fellow public agencies with such questions. Singapore has made some efforts in this regard, which I will share on very briefly, and hopefully will spark discussions in our group.

  21. Last year, Singapore issued a new Government-wide National IP Protocol, providing all government agencies, all public agencies with a standard, streamlined approach to managing IP that arises from publicly funded R&D. The approach paves the way for all government agencies to use one way that is flexible but which allows for more effective public-private collaborations, so that publicly-funded IP can be more readily utilised and commercialised for public benefit.

  22. A framework requires skill to execute effectively. Within IPOS, we have grown a team of IP strategists to provide advice and act as consultants to public agencies so that they better understand how to manage their IP in line with the new IP Protocol.

  23. IPOS also organises a Community of Practice on IP Management for all government agencies, where we bring together hundreds of fellow civil servants from agencies across the Government as well as the public research institutes to share and learn from each other’s experiences. These are just some of the examples from the Singapore context.

  24. With the combined experiences and ideas of the 18 countries gathered here in this room, there will be more possibilities we can explore, for the benefit our citizens and businesses and our countries.

    Conclusion

  25. To conclude, the shift in the global economy towards innovation as a driver of growth is an opportunity for IP Offices to evolve and participate in the next chapter of our growth. Intangible assets will become the currency of our future economy, and IP Offices will be increasingly central and critical to this new economy. In time to come, we will not just be technical experts in IP, but also partners and enablers to government agencies and private enterprises on their innovation journeys.

  26. Thank you once again for giving Singapore the chance to be the venue for HIPOC, enriching IP Week @ SG, and as with all HIPOC meetings, I am absolutely certain that there will be stimulating conversations, much sharing of best practices and the renewal of friendships. It leaves me to wish everyone a fruitful HIPOC and a wonderful stay in Singapore.

  27. Thank you.