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WIPO Director General meets with the innovation ecosystem and the creative sector

Daren Tang, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), visited the Jožef Stefan Institute, met with representatives of Slovenian collective management organisations and the winners of this year's Innovation Day, as well as with startup companies at the Technology Park in Ljubljana.

The first visit of the Director General of Tang to Slovenia was an opportunity to give him a closer look at the Slovenian economic and innovation ecosystem and Slovenia as an innovative and sustainability-oriented country, in addition to bilateral meetings with the President of the Republic of Slovenia, the President of the National Assembly, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation and the Minister of Economy, Tourism and Sport. 

Round table on the challenges in commercialising intellectual property

Director-General Tang and his delegation visited the Jožef Stefan Institute, where they were received by Director Boštjan Zalar. The WIPO delegation, together with the Director of the Slovenian Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), Karin Žvokelj, and the Slovenian Ambassador in Geneva, Anita Pipan, first toured the laboratories, followed by a roundtable discussion on intellectual property and its commercialisation. In addition to Tang, the panellists included Gregor Majdič, Rector of the University of Ljubljana, Špela Stres, Acting Director of the Public Agency for Scientific Research and Innovative Activities, Sašo Džeroski, Head of the Knowledge Technologies Unit at the Jožef Stefan Institute, and Simon Mandelj, Director of GEM Motors.

In her introduction to the roundtable, the SIPO Director Karin Žvokelj pointed out that in an era of rapid technological progress, the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights is at the heart of global economic developments, especially in knowledge-driven economies. In order to understand value creation in such economies, IP rights need to be valued as important intangible assets. Their interaction with each other and with tangible assets and financial capital needs to be measured, considered and valued in a new way.

Participants in the roundtable agreed that the thoughtful commercialisation of intellectual property can be an excellent source of funding for further research and development. One of the difficulties encountered in practice is the lack of receptivity of companies or investors, where the state can play an important role through additional incentives.

Gregor Majdič, Rector of the University of Ljubljana, pointed out the problems that researchers often face when they want to translate innovations and related technologies into practice. One of the major ones is that investors often have no patience with start-ups, which become profitable only after a long period of time.

Simon Mandelj, CEO of GEM Motors, a company that develops and manufactures innovative electric motors, presented his own experience. He said that he was lucky to have secured a private investor already to develop a prototype. "It is different with banks, which see such projects more as a burden," he noted.

Sašo Džeroski, Head of the E8 Section at the Jožef Stefan Institute, which, among other things, develops advanced information technologies for capturing, storing, managing and discovering knowledge, with a focus on data mining, explained that the section advocates making its inventions freely available. "Open source solutions, for example in the field of artificial intelligence, can have a huge impact on enhancing added value," he stressed.

As an example, he pointed to the special attention given by industry to open source solutions, which then led to a different kind of enhanced cooperation. Tang stressed the importance of branding as a strategic market investment. However, they agreed that scientists and researchers should not be expected to master all aspects of development.

Špela Stres also highlighted the importance of cooperation in the commercialisation of intellectual property. One of the biggest obstacles in Slovenia, she said, is that we have not yet achieved a change in mindset to value intellectual property and the opportunities that arise from it more highly.

Awarding of this year's WIPO National Awards

After the roundtable, Daren Tang and Karin Žvokelj presented the WIPO National Awards to the best innovator and the best company. The WIPO Innovator Award was presented to Denis Đonlagić from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Informatics at the University of Maribor, who works in the fields of laser diodes, optical fibres, sensors, systems and apparatus, and whose discoveries and innovations have been awarded eleven patents with a full examination. The WIPO National Business Award went to Krka, d.d., one of the leading generic pharmaceutical companies, which actively collaborates with domestic and foreign public research organisations throughout its corporate development. The award was accepted by Dr Aleš Rotar, Member of the Management Board and Director of Pharmaceutical Development and Production.

Meeting with collective management organisations

Director-General Tang also had a working lunch with representatives of Slovenian collective management organisations. They presented the successes and challenges of the creative sector in Slovenia, and discussed copyright, which is an important contributor to the growth of the economy and represents a significant part of the national budget.

Meeting with start-up companies at the Ljubljana Technology Park

At the event, chaired by the Director of the Ljubljana Technology Park Jernej Pintar, Director General Tang was introduced to selected startup companies, with whom he discussed the challenges and opportunities of protecting intellectual property rights: designs, trademarks and patents. During the event, Director Žvokelj spoke about the preparation of the first national IP strategy and the projects the Office is preparing together with WIPO for startups in Slovenia: The publication of the IP Guide for Start-ups, which will be tailored to the Slovenian market and legislation and will contain the basics of IP protection and strategic ways to exploit IP rights and manage risks, and the free online WIPO IP Diagnostics Tool, which will help companies identify their IP assets and provide recommendations on how to protect them.

A visit to Aerosol, d.o.o., this year's recipient of the WIPO Global Award

Director-General Tang also visited Aerosol, d.o.o., which this year received the prestigious Wipo Global Award, given annually for outstanding achievements in the commercialisation of intellectual property. Aerosol, d.o.o. was one of seven winners out of a total of 553 applications from around the world. The delegation first toured the company, including production, marketing and sales, Skylab and R&D, followed by a short discussion and exchange of experiences, challenges and perspectives on IPRrights protection.

Meeting with this year's Innovation Day gold winners

In cooperation with the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we also organised a meeting between the WIPO delegation and the winners of the national innovation gold awards. The meeting was informal, with participants discussing the importance of innovation, the business of our most successful companies and the importance of intellectual property for business and society as a whole.