Jaipur: Stating that innovation is the central theme to long run performance of any economy, experts at the conference on “Fostering Innovation for Sustainable Development” pointed the need to strengthen the foundation of the innovation eco-system in the developing world with an objective of achieving sustainable development.
Delegates attending the CUTS-CIRC 5th Biennial Conference on Competition, Regulation and Development here, felt that drivers of an innovation-based eco-system are disrupting traditional market transactions across almost all sectors. These developments are posing challenges for the regulators to catch pace with growing changes in the market dynamics. The experts have gathered here to discuss the role of regulation and competition in creating appropriate incentives for fostering innovation for sustainable development.
In his keynote address at the three-day conference Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Suresh Prabhu emphasised on the importance of new ideas on trade, competition, regulation and development. Praising the role of CUTS in this regard, he said it was an important conference which could deliberate on the necessity of an optimal regulatory regime that could preserve incentives for innovation.
Delivering his welcome remarks, CUTS Secretary General, Pradeep Mehta pointed out that the idea for biennial series was conceived to highlight and discuss steps to address regulatory failures and weak institutional capacities in emerging economies. The first conference was organised in Delhi in march 2007 and the last was organised in December 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.
He said the sectors chosen for the theme “Revisiting IPR and Competition” include Information and Communication Technology, Pharmaceuticals and Agriculture. Similarly, focussed topics chosen for the theme on disruptive technologies and optimal regulation include Digital Payments and Multi-Sided Platforms (Transport and e-commerce).
Mr. Mehta said innovation, competition and IPR are intrinsically related to each other. Robust competition ensure that present competitors and upcoming market entrants constantly innovate to attain better returns from production differentiation. Absence of adequate IPR protection could discourage firms to invest in research and development and may negatively impact their incentive to innovate.
Former President, Federal Competition Commission, Mexico, Eduardo Perez Motta, Deputy Secretary General, UNCTAD, Isabelle Durant, and Former Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and Nitin Desai, former Under Secretary General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations.
Speaking on the merits of innovation based eco-system, Eduardo Motta highlighted the benefits of innovation and emphasised that it has the potential to have positive social impact. He said there is overlap between intellectual property and competition but stated that awareness on importance of intellectual property rights which do not harm competition is needed. However, an important issue to ponder over was how competition authorities would deal with the data markets. These and other issues need to be discussed at international forums such as UNCTAD, OECD and ICN, he added.
Isabell Durant agreed with his views and mentioned that new digital technologies have created immense benefits for consumers. However, without optimal governance and regulation, dealing with such issues can be challenging, as they deal with topics like data protection and privacy. The developing countries have to deal with additional constraints such as lack of capacity, access to finance, weak infrastructure, poor research and development and ineffective policy frameworks.
Mr. Desai highlighted that there is lack of evidence on impact of intellectual property on productivity growth and spending on research and development. The number of patents does not constitute a measure of innovation. Big breakthroughs in development have come through competition and not through intellectual property and patent protection is becoming an instrument for corporate warfare. In view of this, the system is constraining innovation and not promoting the same and there is a need to modify the rigorous intellectual property regime.