Recognising their innovation, an incense maker, a milk processing unit, a baker, and a traditional paper maker, bagged awards at the Bhutan Enterprise Awards coinciding with the World Intellectual Property (IP) day in Thimphu yesterday.

Yoezer Lhamo, who has been running a milk-processing unit in Bumthang since 1991, was declared Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. Lhundup, the owner of an incense manufacturing unit in Chumey, was awarded the BDBL Rural Entrepreneur of the Year. Lama Dorji, who owns the Lama Bakery in Thimphu, won the Cottage-scale Entrepreneur of the Year. Norbu Tenzin, who has been running a traditional handmade paper unit, won the Small-Scale Entrepreneur of the Year award.

The day was dedicated to highlighting and emphasising the importance of creativity and innovation for human progress.

The theme for this year’s World IP Day was “Innovation—Improving Lives” to convey how innovation is making lives healthier, safer, more comfortable and turning problems into progress.

The chief guest at the occasion, Speaker Jigme Zangpo, said that besides promotion and protection of the local innovations and ideas, there is a need to cultivate creativity in institutions.

An official from the economic affairs ministry’s intellectual property department (DoIP) said that the ministry is working towards promoting innovation and creativity in the country, mainly in the technical institutions.

Deputy chief intellectual property officer, Tempa Tshering, said the department will sign an agreement with the College of Science and Technology and Jigme Namgyel College of Engineering towards the end of this year. “We are working to set up a database at the institutions to allow them to use a related invention database for the trainees to help invent or add to previous inventions.”

DoIP officials said the IP system supports innovation by attracting investment, rewarding creators and innovators, and encouraging them to develop ideas.

However, there is a lack of awareness among the general public despite periodic training and workshops the department conducts.

“Let alone the general public, even creators of products don’t have a proper understanding about intellectual property,” said Tempa Tshering.

The department is developing seven major strategies to encourage innovation and creativity and to foster use of invention databases from the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

Tshering Palden