On 20 March 2019, Wessel van Wyk was privileged to present at a Water Research Commission workshop of South Africa. The workshop, entitled “A Framework for Management of IP Emanating From WRC-Supported R&D”, was aimed at strengthening the intellectual property (IP) understanding of all research and development stakeholders of the WRC. Deliberations included IP identification, protection, commercialisation and effective management, all contingent on the frameworks created by the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Act of South Africa and the WRC’s IP Policy. Wessel examined the “Principles of Intellectual Property” in South African and abroad, and advised stakeholders on the identification and protection of such, as well as bridging the gap between the academic and commercial worlds. The WRC aims to host similar workshops annually, recognising IP as an integral asset in the innovation value chain, and Smit & Van Wyk looks forward to continuously supporting the Water Research Commission workshop and such IP-awareness events.
Water Research Commission Mandate
The WRC was established in terms of the Water Research Act (Act No 34 of 1971), following a period of serious water shortage. It was deemed to be of national importance to generate new knowledge and to promote the country’s water research purposefully, owing to the view held that water would be one of South Africa’s most limiting factors in the 21st century. In 1971 when the WRC was founded, water research and development (R&D) in South Africa was limited to a few institutions and the funding level inadequate. There was no research co-ordination and an apparent neglect of some key research fields. In addition, there was little strategic direction or leadership that would provide for the identification of priority areas or appropriate technology transfer. It was to address these issues, that the WRC was established. Currently, South Africa is still under threat of a lack of sufficient water, while water quality and availability issues are becoming more acute. However, the country is much better prepared to deal with this problem owing to the WRC’s meaningful contribution to the development of the capacity of the water sector, the broadening of the country’s water-centred R&D base, and the WRC’s continued commitment to direct and fund research on critical issues.