At the FICCI Conference on ‘Empowering Women Inventors, Creators, and Entrepreneurs Through Intellectual Property in India’ coinciding with the World IP Day 2023, Ms Himani Pande, Joint Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, highlighted the four-fold increase in the number of patents filed by women.
Emphasising the growth in women-led patent filings, Ms Pande noted, “Over the last year, 7,698 patent applications were filed by women at the India Patent Office.” She attributed this increase to various government initiatives designed to support and incentivise women entrepreneurs and innovators in innovation and intellectual property.
Ms Pande also mentioned the government’s efforts to expedite patent applications filed by women through the amendment rules of 2019, as well as recognise their participation in innovation through the National Intellectual Property Awards.
While acknowledging the progress made, Ms Pande urged the need for continued efforts, stating, “We should be looking at a far greater levelling field.” The government of India remains committed to creating a sustainable environment for women to participate and lead in intellectual property and creativity, ensuring their vital contributions are recognised and celebrated.
In his keynote address, Dr Unnat Pandit, Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks, Intellectual Property Office, Government of India, highlighted women’s crucial role in the country’s innovation ecosystem. Dr Pandit also shared some impressive statistics to illustrate the growth of intellectual property in India, including a more than 400% jump in the number of patents granted since 2016. In addition, he emphasised the role of women in building India’s third-largest startup ecosystem. He mentioned that 8% of startups are led by women or have a woman as one of the directors. As India moves towards a technology and knowledge-driven economy, the role of women in fostering innovation, enterprise creation, and creativity is of utmost importance. Dr Pandit cited several examples of women using intellectual property tools to protect and sustain traditional knowledge and livelihoods. With women playing diverse roles in society, he emphasised the need for women to take on leadership roles in IP creation and contribute to building a robust innovation ecosystem for India’s development.
In her special address at the FICCI Conference, Ms Taruna Gupta, Head of IP Governance, Training & Assessment at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), emphasised women’s critical role in innovation and the need for an inclusive culture. She also outlined how companies can promote an inclusive culture that empowers women to be effective innovators and entrepreneurs. This involves a long-term vision, commitment from management, and collaboration between corporates and academia to ensure the right STEM education for students. In addition, equipping women with domain and technology skills, providing access to mentorship and guidance, enabling them with funds and resources, and offering rewards and recognition for their efforts and successful outcomes are crucial steps in sustaining momentum and fostering an environment that encourages women to excel in innovation and entrepreneurship.
In his video message, Mr Daren Tang, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), emphasised the importance of celebrating the achievements of women innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs on World IP Day. Despite making up more than half of the global population, women account for only 16% of international patent applications and hold just three in ten jobs related to science, technology, engineering, and math. He urged meaningful, decisive, and impact-driven policies and projects to address the challenges. By working together, the global community can unleash the potential of women and girls everywhere and accelerate innovation and creativity, he said.
Mr Narendra Sabharwal, Chair, FICCI IP Committee & former Deputy General, WIPO, highlighted the many landmark achievements by women inventors globally and stressed government and industry working together to address the challenges that women face and provide them with resources, support and opportunities, while also creating a more gender sensitive and inclusive environment for women in the IP system.