PrAEctiCe project is funded by the HORIZON Europe programme under Grant Agreement number 101084248

APLIK: UM Innovation.
“Boosting cooperation between Europe and Africa”

The University of Maribor organised the event APLIK: UM Innovation – “Boosting cooperation between Europe and Africa” under the umbrella of ATHENA European University, Enterprise Europe Network and PrAEctiCe projects, which took place online on 15 September 2023.

The event focused on the importance of protecting intellectual property (IP) and the role of innovation incubators in promoting entrepreneurship in Europe and Africa. Professor Domen Mongus from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Maribor introduced the PrAEctiCe project. He also explained how the project is mapping and profiling the best existing agroecological practices in different climatic zones in East Africa, identifying existing critical barriers and drivers to define transition pathways to further develop existing agroecological practices in the region. Using a theoretical lab, PrAEctiCe evaluates farmers in their transition state and uses the theoretical framework to design a decision support tool. The PrAEctiCe decision support tool consists of an integral application, advisory application and farmer application. Professor Mongus added that “we are now developing an analytics system that is focusing on improving all the three living labs (in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), optimising the water nutrition and reducing electricity.”

The event focused on the importance of protecting intellectual property (IP) and the role of innovation incubators in promoting entrepreneurship in Europe and Africa. Professor Domen Mongus from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Maribor introduced the PrAEctiCe project. He also explained how the project is mapping and profiling the best existing agroecological practices in different climatic zones in East Africa, identifying existing critical barriers and drivers to define transition pathways to further develop existing agroecological practices in the region. Using a theoretical lab, PrAEctiCe evaluates farmers in their transition state and uses the theoretical framework to design a decision support tool. The PrAEctiCe decision support tool consists of an integral application, advisory application and farmer application. Professor Mongus added that “we are now developing an analytics system that is focusing on improving all the three living labs (in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania), optimising the water nutrition and reducing electricity.”

 

Intellectual property is considered a significant solution to challenges and a primary driver of innovation and sustainable development. Miss Nancy (Chauraya) Samuriwo from the Samuriwo attorneys and a consultant for AfrIPI (Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation in Africa) gave a keynote presentation that explored Intellectual Property (IP) in Africa and its correlation to innovation and partnership. AfrIPI is an international cooperation project funded by the European Union. The overall objective of AfrIPI is to facilitate intra-African trade and African and European investment. It specifically aims to create, protect, utilise, administer, and enforce Intellectual Property Rights across Africa, in line with international and European best practices and support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the African Union´s Agenda 2063.

 

Africa has the potential for innovation, and there is a need for the use of intellectual property (IP), in particular, the patent system. Out of the eight (8) pan-African regional economic communities (RECS), 4 have developed IP instruments to foster innovation. Whereas 22 out of the 55 African countries belong to ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organization), 17 belong to OAPI (Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle), and 16 are governed by national laws. The African Union Agenda 2063 places intellectual property (IP) at the centre of its objectives, recognising science, technology and innovation as the drivers of investment. Co-founded and directed by the EU and co-founded and implemented by EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office), AfrIPI across IP in Africa, covers everything from trademark, data, designing and geo-indication since 2020, despite the challenges of Africa’s weak enforcement, legal and regulatory framework to mention a few.

 

Next, Wendy Nabasanga, Chief of Staff at Outbox Hub, discussed promoting entrepreneurship using Outbox Hub as a case study. Outbox Hub is one of the popular innovation hubs in Uganda that gives support by connecting young entrepreneurs, designers and creatives to help them with technical innovation support such as co-working spaces, hackathons, bootcamps that identify current innovation solutions. This has significant impact on the startup transition. By implementing partners, Outbox Hub can reach out to startups and help their businesses grow.

 

In addition to the aforementioned initiatives boosting cooperation between Europe and Africa, Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) also plays a crucial role in helping SMEs across the globe focus on innovation, digitisation and technology. While consulting businesses and giving them advice, EEN also raises awareness about the importance of intellectual property as part of the many services it provides to SMEs.

 

The webinar has shown how the EU is boosting its cooperation with Africa through different projects by promoting innovation incubation programs, adoption of intellectual property and promotion of entrepreneurship for sustainable development.

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