‘India’s creative economy is now a $30 billion industry’

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Daren Tang, DG of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a forum which promotes invention and creativity, feels that innovation doesn’t just happen in Silicon Valley, but also in New Delhi. Tang, who is half-way in his term, having joined the Geneva-based organisation three years back, plans to make intellectual property more inclusive, diverse and sustainable.In an interview with TOI, he says India can offer much to the developing world in innovation, particularly in climate change-related technologies.
Considering you are the first Asian DG and aim to serve the ‘underserved’, what is your strategy?
The vision of this administration with me as the DG is to build a more inclusive IP (intellectual property) ecosystem. One that is not just for IP specialists and experts, but a catalyst for growth and development, especially for developing countries and the Global South. I think it’s so important that IP is seen as not just something for advanced industrialised nations, but also can accompany the journey of developing countries. And India is one example of how it’s really taken advantage of IP to harness the innovative and creative potential of its people. Consider these three facts: Arijit Singh out-streamed Beyonce last year. Bollywood continues to produce more films than Hollywood. And major streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney are investing record-breaking amounts in Indian content. In all, India’s creative economy is now a $30 billion industry and creative exports are up 20% last year, generating over $11 billion. All this is reflected in India’s performance in the Global Innovation Index.
How do you plan to make the world more inclusive, diverse and more sustainable?
As part of building a more inclusive IP ecosystem, our priority at WIPO will be to focus especially on the underserved. First is women. Right now, only 16% of international patents are filed by women. We need to close that gender gap in patent filings globally. Second is youth, because young people, and especially in developing countries need to know and feel that innovation doesn’t just happen in Silicon Valley, but also in New Delhi. Third is SMEs and startups because the big companies have the knowledge and the pockets to employ the best consultants and to advise them on IP. SMEs make up 90% of companies in many countries, including India, where you’ve got 70 million SMEs – so this is the biggest SME country in the world. And yet, many SMEs don’t know how to use IP as part of their business journey. So we need to help them. The fourth is indigenous communities. As someone from Singapore, a country which has many immigrants coming from Asian civilisations, I know that the knowledge, heritage and wisdom of our ancestors is a very important part of who we are. And this is true not just in Asia, but also in many other parts of the world. So, we are reaching out to support all these traditionally underserved groups.
Do you think that AI will create challenges for policy makers dealing with intellectual property rights?
Let me zoom out a bit first. One-third of all patents are now connected to digital technologies. Not just AI, but also quantum computing, IoT, machine learning. So, AI should be seen in this larger context that digital is really transforming the innovation landscape. Hardware is now merging with software, and the line between the two are blurring. India is not just a strong player in software, but also in hardware and deep technology. As the two start to come together, India is very well poised to take advantage of the synergies that arise from when you combine digital with deep tech. Of course, AI presents a particularly disruptive force, not just in IP, but in many, many other areas. A lot of the AI-related issues are difficult issues. So at WIPO, one of things we do is to bring people together to talk about the issues that they face. We want to be the global forum where best practices are discussed.

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