Indonesia’s new National Science and Technology Bill

The creation of an innovative society based on innovation and knowledge creation is a key goal of most countries. To achieve this a country needs to set useful and effective policies that assist both the public and private sectors to create new (and usable) intellectual property.

A key issue for all countries is how to own and manage IP arising from publicly funded R&D. Typically countries try to ensure that the state owns IP created through its funding or R&D institutions. But there is more to it than that. If the state cannot effectively commercialize the IP, then such a policy will simply kill off the IP and waste the R&D time and cost. A more subtle second step policy is required allowing licensing by a research body, or spin off companies, or other ownership structures designed to use the IP effectively, usually with the proviso that the IP must benefit the national interests.

Indonesia’s National System of Science and Technology bill is being debated by Parliament now. The new bill was introduced in order to replace the earlier science and technology framework, in Law No.18 of 2002 on the National System for Scientific and Technological Research, Development and Implementation (Siptek Law). 

The new bill provides incentives to produce national inventions and innovations, through scientific and technological research and development.  It targets individuals, groups, business entities (both state-owned and private enterprises), public and private institutions (including higher education bodies).

The new bill is concerned with all activities in the realm of education, research and development.  R&D results are to be published. Assessments of R&D outcomes are provided to see what national goals are met, to ensure testing occurs, as well as clearance and auditing of technologies produced.  The new bill promotes technology transfer arrangements by national and regional governments, including:  

  1. Licensing;
  2. Cooperation;
  3. Provision of science and technology services; and/or
  4. Transfers of technology subject to a public order proviso
  5. Technology intermediation, such as use of incubators, technology-related events, partnerships and promotions.
  6. Distribution and Commercialization of technologies, through incubators, partnerships and science and technology zones.

One specific commercialization tool is government procurement preferences for products with IP from state funded R&D.

All primary data and intellectual property which resulting from State funded R&D must be transferred to the central government. The law also mandates the storage of all data for 20 years.   

The Bill aims to improve coordination of research through the establishment of a National Research and Innovation Body (BRIN). It will offer a more varied set of funding sources to address the shortage of state and regional budget allocations for research.

Whether this all works depends on the ability of the bodies to use IP effectively. Many countries find that the state is not the best body to license or commercialize innovations. Partnerships with private institutions with shared incentives are usually critical.