Research and Development in Mexico has historically been a complex mix of political, economic, academic and social factors which knit an intricate net of circumstances that, until today, keeps the country in an impasse that hinders individuals to nurture the R+D cycle and to make the most of the innovation and technology created through this cycle. Despite the innovation potential of the country, the opportunity to generate technology through research and that this technology is able to be commercialized and generate business is still reserved to just a few. This can be seen in the number of patent applications produced by national residents in comparison with countries with OECD economies.
We must remember that an inherent part of human survival throughout history has been commercial interchange with others. Intellectual property is as well an inherent part of commerce. It is the set of legal agreements of Intellectual Property (IP) rights, one of the core aspects which regulate and keep balance in the international free trade agreements established with other countries.
Mexico's platform for innovation is set and settled. The opportunities are there. Thousands of scientific researchers are formed in its different academic and research centers. The Mexican Patent and Trademark Office (IMPI) is one of the ten best operational offices in the world.
However, society in Mexico lacks of trust in that Science and Education are the most strategical tools to generate strong, independent-minded individuals who can, besides attracting investment to the country, to export knowledge and business to other countries, therefore nurturing and making the cycle of commerce to flow and accelerate both the internal and external markets. Unfortunately, there are ideological and political beliefs that scientists and science lack of a social benefit focus, and that are under the order of taking advantage of public resources in their own benefit.
It would seem that there is not a clear idea of how investment in R+D – science, technology and innovation – would help the country to solve the huge problems in the differential of income, the social problems which affect society, and increase of poverty while the richest become richer. The Development Plan in the present political administration does not seem to find how to make the most of the abundant supply of resources generator that science and education represent.
Above these defying circumstances, the knowledge, preparation, and tenacity of individuals stand out and thrive over the limitations. Budget reductions that come from decrees instead of from deep analysis, centralization of the scientific regulation and lack of funding to scientific research projects, a legal framework that does not support scientific development, absence of fiscal stimuli to develop technologically based companies, lack of the triple helix
which bonds academic research with the industrial and government sectors in order to generate solutions to technical problems, among others, are many of the actual limitations that different industrial sectors are facing.
New reforms of the General Law of Science, Technology, and Innovation (LGCTI) are uncertain since the initiative is still in analysis. However, the most important aspect is the proposal to incorporate a humanistic content to the object of generating science in Mexico. The proposal is to change the paradigm that innovation and scientific production are the motor of development of societies. The proposal aims to incorporate social sciences and humanities to the scientific perspective as motors working in parallel to promote national development. Therefore, there is a proposal to change the organic structure of CONACyT, the National Counsel of Science and Technology to be the National Counsel of Humanities, Science and Technology. As well, it has been also proposed to disappear the consultation organs.
Despite these hindering issues, researchers in Mexico have access to the latest and avant garde research trends regarding COVID-19. Being an OCDE member country, Mexico is carrying on research in the pharma sector regarding the treatment of the COVID-19 (SARSCoV2) virus. As well, the country is taking part in the global efforts to find the treatment for COVID-19. Mexico has contributed with 1 million Euros to support the vaccine research being made in the European Union. Now, Mexico's national research on COVID-19 is not focused on obtaining a vaccine. It is oriented to the repurposing of medicines, to the support in the detection of the infection and in improving the design of artificial ventilators and ventilator parts, and detection kits.
The OECD trends include research on already existing vaccine candidates, research on development of vaccine platforms (RNA or DNA platforms), which include recombinant protein vaccines, nucleic acid vaccines, viral vector vaccines, and attenuated or inactivated virus vaccines. We must remember that there is a long way from R+D to people access. The nearest day to have a vaccine accessible to the public is estimated to be at the end of year 2020. It is also important to consider that manufacturing capacity must be built to support the massive production of the vaccine once it is safe and effective. Mexico could play a significant role at this point since the country manufacturing competence is among the best in the world. Another line of R+D is the repurposing of pharmaceutical compounds that are indicated to the treatment of other diseases. These compounds are not being used to prevent the infection. They are being used to provide treatment to patients in initial stages of COVID19. Research is approaching the treatment in three distinct phases of the process of the viral infection:
- Preventing the virus to getting in the host cells. Antibody-based treatments and cloroquine/hydroxicloroquine-based treatments.
- Prevent the virus to replicate inside the host's cell. Treatments with antivirals.
- Comentado [Ui1]: No sé si más bien debería decir que la propuesta intenta incorporar a las ciencias sociales como motor del desarrollo nacional a la par de la inovación y desarrollo Comentado [RB2R1]: ¡listo! hice la modificación conforme al comentario. ¡Gracias!
- Prevent the cytokine storm, which is the over-reaction of the immune system to the virus. This is the case of treatments to suppress immunity.
Mexico is an important player on industrial design patents in biomedical devices. 15 billion USD in medical devices are exported from Mexico to USA and Central and South America.
Among other extraordinary efforts from research centers and governmental offices all over the country, it is worth to mention that CONACyT has released calls to promote funding of scientific research projects for COVID-19-related research. The UNAM, among other public universities, has as well released calls to funding of 5 research scientific projects through an extraordinary emergent Support Program to Research and Technological Innovation Projects (PAPIIT). The Universidad de Guadalajara (UDG) has released a support program for research projects involved in the generation of technologies that support health, projects for developing medical devices, and projects for data science.
Mexican biomedical and industrial design researchers are innovating in the lines of artificial ventilators, ventilator valves, creation of rapid test kits for positive COVID-19 detection, mask prototypes and protection suits. Important actors in this academic branch of research include UNAM, UAM, the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California (UABC), the Tecnologico Nacional de México (TecNM), the Universidad Autonoma de Sinaloa (UAS). They are making use of Artificial intelligence tools and 3D printing technology to innovate. The industry sectors are also focusing their efforts to support and face the COVID-19 pandemic. The industrial automotive, aerospatial, and manufacturing sectors began collaborating and directing actions to produce high technology N95 face masks. The automotive industry is making use of its 3D printing capacity to produce parts for protection equipment and to produce filters and parts for artificial ventilators. These actions required reengineering and adaptation of the installed infrastructure to supply these fundamental products. The manufacturing sector is making efforts to nurture the supply chains of plastic parts for ventilators.
We need all the momentum of the T-MEC and the Modernized EU-MEX agreement, international treaties that Mexico is renovating. The efforts of the Mexican Patent and Trademark office (IMPI) will be fundamental, critical and vital in order to give priority to Mexican devices – as it is defined in the COVID 19 contingency official agreements that have been published in the Mexican Official Gazette – and to push and give movement to the internal economy.
The IMPI must align to support the national residents in order to expedite as possible, the path for them to obtaining IP rights for their technologies, and use all the leverage it has worked upon through the years and provide the online services and platforms necessary for the Mexican residents to generate technology, and from there, the ability to transfer it. We
must consider that the official activities suspension due to the COVID-19 contingency will greatly affect proceedings and pending actions. Another important aspect to consider is what will the IMPI do to coordinate the filings of the promotions that are pending since March 2020. As we speak, the IMPI is developing a strategy to cope with the large amount of procedures on inventions, distinctive signs and IP enforcement matters that will be filed when activities are retaken. The Institute is facing a great challenge. There are logistics issues, as well as all the backlog that has accumulated since the closure of its headquarters. It is still to be seen if the IMPI's strategy will suffice the demand of the users of the IP system and how will they solve eventual conflicts about the titularity of users' IP rights.
The Secretary of Economy and the Tax Office (SAT) must also support the Mexican technologically based startups and ease the fiscal compliancy in order that these businesses thrive in the shortest term possible.
If science, technology, and innovation are the answer to support Mexico and give them tools to survive in this intricately knitted commercial relations tissue, wouldn't it be wise to give strong and solid foundations both macro and micro economically? Public policies, fiscal, regulatory matters, the triple helix of research investment from the industrial, academic and government sectors must keep working collectively to give the momentum that Mexico needs to rise through the storm.
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