'Intellectual property rights, climate technology transfer and innovation in developing countries' with Kerstin Hötte & Su Jung Jee

Past Event

25 May 2023, 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Online & Manor Road Building
Manor Road, Oxford, OX1 3UQ

INET Oxford
© iStock/Leszek Glasner

Does the current international Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) system inhibit or promote climate technology transfer and innovation in developing countries?

This talk will draw from the recent study that summarises insights from a systematic review of the theoretical and empirical literature and 20 semi-structured interviews with key innovation experts (entrepreneurs, IP officials, and policy makers) in four developing countries (Bangladesh, Kenya, India, and South Africa). We identify three areas where IPR systems may matter: (1) climate technology transfer from foreign countries, (2) indigenous innovation by domestic inventors, and (3) follow-on adaptive innovation building on imported technology.

The results show that the relevance of IPRs in the climate context is likely overstated and often perceived as distracting rather than helpful. Inventors in developing countries are frequently not aware of IP systems. There is insufficient evidence that weak IP systems hinder (climate) technology diffusion when market opportunities are sufficiently high. Further, most mitigation technologies needed in developing countries are old, low-tech, or nature-based, and IP protection does not play a significant role. Instead, demand-pull policies fostering the diffusion of existing solutions (e.g. policies for creating climate-supportive innovation ecosystems) rather than the invention of mitigation technologies appear more relevant.

Adaptation technologies differ, as local needs are more specific and foreign inventors (especially from the Global North) have little incentive to develop these solutions. Indigenous innovation creating original solutions tied to local needs matters more. Our results show trade marks and utility models, instead of patents, have great potential to motivate indigenous and follow-on adaptive innovation that meets the local needs.

While the current debate from literature focuses on technology transfer from the Global North, recent technology trends highlight the increasing importance of climate technology innovation and transfer originating from the Global South. Trade policy could play a more significant role for these technologies than IPRs. We do not find any clear rationale in favour (or against) weakening the current TRIPS regime, for example, by expanding IPR waivers to climate technologies. The study concludes with proposals of how policy in developing and developed countries can promote climate-friendly development.

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Kerstin_Hotte 2022

Kerstin Hötte
Postdoctoral Researcher, Finance and Economics Programme, The Alan Turing Institute

Kerstin is a postdoctoral researcher in the Finance and Economics Programme at The Alan Turing Institute, an academic visitor at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the University of Oxford. She is also affiliated with Bielefeld University as an associate researcher at the chair for Computational Economics and Economic Theory.

She studied economics at the Universities Tübingen and Bonn in Germany and obtained her PhD in a joint degree programme from the universities Paris-1 Sorbonne-Panthéon and Bielefeld. In 2020-2022 she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Martin School before joining the Turing Institute.

Kerstin's research focuses on technological change and, more specifically, on technology transitions when incumbent technologies are replaced by emerging alternatives. She is interested in the empirical and theoretical foundations of substitution patterns in economic and technological networks. Major applications of her work are climate technologies.

She has published empirical and theoretical work using macroeconomic, agent-based simulations, patent citation and input-output networks, and other applied empirical analyses. An overview of her research can be found on her Google Scholar profile. In her current role at the Turing Institute, Kerstin is exploring a novel data set based on granular financial transaction data of businesses in the UK, that may be used to study the evolution and resilience of supply chains.

Kerstin also worked as an academic consultant for business and policy on renewable energy, on climate and digital policy, and on climate technology transfer and IP in the development context.

Sr Su Jung Lee

Dr Su Jung Jee
Assistant Professor of Technology Management & Analytics, Bradford School of Management

Su Jung is an Assistant Professor of Technology Management & Analytics at the Bradford School of Management and an Associate Fellow at the INET Oxford. She received her BS and PhD degrees in Industrial Engineering (with a specialisation in Technology Management and Analytics) from Yonsei University, South Korea. She was a visiting fellow at the INET Oxford, University of Oxford (2021) and a visiting PhD student at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex (2018).

Her research focuses on intellectual property strategies and policies for innovation, with a particular interest in the context of open innovation, industrial dynamics of AI and climate technologies. She is also broadly interested in the design and development of frameworks and measures for supporting decision-making in relation to innovation management, particularly by using patent/bibliometric analysis. She has published in leading innovation journals including Industrial and Corporate Change, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Journal of Small Business Management, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Scientometrics, Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, and Journal of Informetrics.