Universities tipped on intellectual property commercialisation


South Africa-based intellectual property (IP) specialist McLean Sibanda has asked universities in Malawi to commercialise intellectual property and technology transfer for Malawians to benefit from research and innovations.

Sibanda made the remarks in Lilongwe on Friday on the final day of the two-day National Conference on Intellectual Property and Innovation.

“The society gets to benefit from research that is done in universities, which is their primary purpose,” he said.


The IP specialist gave the example of a university professor in South Africa who, through her research, created an ointment which cures skin conditions.

Sibanda, however, said it takes time for the process of commercialisation to start bearing fruits.

“The money will come but it does take time. For this to happen, you [universities] need to do more research and the context of the institution is also important. You cannot just copy what happened, say, in South Africa,” he said.


Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences Vice Chancellor Nancy Chitera said the university is reviewing its curriculum and has added entrepreneurial and innovation skills.

“We, as a country, need human capital that can solve problems and create innovations that can benefit Malawians. We have also come up with a department of innovation and research specifically to coordinate innovation activities on campus, as well as at industry level,” she said.

Chitera said the university wants to start doing research that goes beyond teaching and publishing.

“We want our research to result in commercialisation as well as the transfer of knowledge. With the help of the United Nations Development Programme, there is now what we are calling the ‘unipod’. We also have a technology transfer office which is open to the public,” she said.

The conference, held under the theme ‘Building Innovative Capacity for Economic Transformation’, attracted senior government officials, representatives of international and local organisations, academic institutions and the private sector.

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