When donors fund technology, who owns it?

By Anna Patricia Valerio 14 December 2015

Experts participate in a workshop to design and prototype personal protective equipment hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Agency for International Development. How is intellectual property ownership of a donor-funded technology or innovation determined? Photo by: USAID / CC BY-NC

The global development community is increasingly embracing innovation to aid developing countries. But as donors fund more technology solutions, intellectual property ownership, which can vary across donors and types of awards, also becomes an important consideration.

While there are general rules that guide agreements regarding IP ownership, determining to whom IP rights should belong is still a case-to-case decision.

This holds true for both the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — two of the most active innovation funders — which make IP decisions by determining how an innovation can benefit the most people.

“What’s the best way to treat IP that’s going to further our development objective?” said Gayle Girod, chief innovation counsel at USAID, describing how the agency is evaluating and dealing with IP ownership today.

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About the author

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Anna Patricia Valerio

Anna Patricia Valerio is a Manila-based development analyst focusing on writing innovative, in-the-know content for senior executives in the international development community. Before joining Devex, Patricia wrote and edited business, technology and health stories for BusinessWorld, a Manila-based business newspaper.

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