Amid the economic flux in South Africa, Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) have often been flagged as a potential source of socio-economic growth to better the livelihood of the marginalised communities. At an Intellectual Property and Indigenous Knowledge-Based Technology Innovations Workshop held by the University of Limpopo (UL)’s Technology Transfer Office (TTO) recently, scholars were implored to foster IKS in the body of their academic activities.
The workshop aimed to communicate the Department of Science and Innovation’s cross-cutting theme of promoting IKS in its 10-Year Innovation Plan while creating awareness about intellectual property (IP) around IKS. Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Partnerships at UL, Prof Jesika Singh said, IKS has an important contribution to make in the socio-economic growth and sustainable development. “It should be promoted and encouraged. Researchers should invest their energy in innovation and research on IKS, thus conserving it for the next generation,” she stated. UL was engaged in a five-year project of producing and commercializing a Marula Fruit Wine that involves six microbiology postgraduate students as secondary investigators and two women from surrounding areas as IKS holders and wine brewers.
Technology Transfer Office Manager at UL, Fredda Makoto, said the university assists its researchers and inventors to protect their innovations while Dr Zolani Dyosi, Programme Director for Applied Research and Innovation at the National Research Foundation (NRF), said NRF funds researchers who conduct studies on IKS to develop new theories and researches. Prof Mogege Mosimege who is Head of School of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology Education at the University of Free State highlighted the challenges facing South Africa on IP and IKS. He said, IKS remains undermined and less preferred in the country’s research fraternity. He said, the government should assist in protecting IKS and compensate all IK holders as part of driving economic growth.
Senior Education Specialist at Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), Mojalefa Khoza warned innovators against intellectual predators, saying they should register their creation before presenting their ideas to anyone. He said, this is for the protection of their innovation from being misused before and during the commercialization process.