Intellectual Property Management Capacity in Tanzania: Perception of Researchers in Academia and Research Institutions of Health and Allied Sciences

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Kijakazi Obed Mashoto


Background: Intellectual Property (IP) management is a fundamental element in putting intellectual property to work for the public good. This study aimed at assessing the perception of the research community on intellectual Property Management (IPM) capacity in universities of health and allied sciences, and health research institutions in Tanzania.
Methods: A total of 148 respondents which included scientists, researchers and postgraduate students from 18 institutions in Tanzania returned the filled in self-administered online questionnaire (59.4% response rate).
Results: Most respondents (76.5%) were of the view that social and economic development are the priorities of their institutions but not intellectual property (IP) commercialisation as only a few (18%) reported that their institutions have arrangement with local industries and 22% said that their institutions have functioning intellectual Property Management Office (IPMO). About 30% of the respondents reported that IP policies exist in their institutions. In most cases, respondents were of the view that the need for effective management of IP (86.7%) triggered the institution’s decision to have IP policy. Among the respondents who stated that their institutions have IP policy, slightly over one third to a half acknowledged that their institutions’ IP policies intend to regulate mechanisms for benefit sharing and IP ownership.
Among those who reported that their institutions had IP policies, only 12.8% indicated that the policies were being implemented. Majority of respondents (80.4%) knew the existence of employment contracts but, only 28.4% signed the contract and 12.8% were well informed that they had been employed to invent. Over 20% of respondents said that their institutions had the capacity to exploit and manage IP and only a quarter of respondents reported to have capacity for IP management. Less than 40% of respondents admitted that their institutions had entrepreneurship capacity and 30% affirmed that their institutions were capable of establishing IPMO.
Conclusion: Opinions of the respondents indicate that universities and health research institutions in Tanzania have inadequate capacity for IPM due to inadequate or lack of frameworks, mechanisms, structures and resources for protection of generated IP. Technical and financial support are needed to strengthen capacity for IPM in universities and health research institutions in Tanzania.

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