My name is Margo Edris and I’m a busy working mom in the field of technology, I have two little boys ages 2 and almost 4. If you are a parent or have friends with kids, you remember this age. These toddler, preschool aged adorable little ones are infatuated with the question “why?” They constantly question everything. My son loves mac n cheese – what kid doesn’t? The other night his shirt had cheese all over it, the conversation went something like this:
Me: “Let me clean your shirt.”
Me: “Because you have mac n cheese all over it.”
Me: “Because you used your shirt instead of your napkin.”
Me: “Well, I guess you think that’s easier?”
Oh, the joys and challenges of parenting.
There is so much significance in the word “why.” Many adults never stop asking why, and I find that both inspiring and empowering. When we think of the U.S. BioTech industry, it is filled with “adult toddlers” who keep asking why, as they solve some of the greatest problems facing the world. From an economic standpoint, Biotech is an $108B segment, made up of 449 public biotech companies in the US. These are the creators of intellectual property. For these modern-day discoverers, who create the things that provide tremendously positive effects into our lives, the value of their work is precious.
According to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, “Intellectual property is the lifeblood of the biotechnology industry. Strong patents, and an efficient, predictable, and objective patent system, are critical to ensuring a steady stream of capital to biotechnology companies developing innovative medicines, alternative energy sources, insect- and drought-resistant crops, and a wide range of other innovative biotechnologies that are helping to feed, fuel, and heal our planet. This quintessentially-American industry leads the world in innovation, providing the US with a global competitive advantage and spurring economic growth and the creation of high-paying jobs here at home.”
However, the Biden administration supports waiving intellectual property protections for Covid vaccines, which would allow other countries to manufacture the vaccines independently, outside the labs of the vaccine creators. This consideration produces a ‘why” from adults who understand that IP protections are a source of innovation that must be preserved. There’s an eminent threat to the U.S. BioTech market if that IP is sent out of our country into foreign markets, which would be a shame after the years of effort and funding that has been poured into the innovation up to this point.
Not only is it crucial that we preserve this $108B segment of the U.S. economy, but it isn’t necessary to relinquish the IP around Covid vaccines to accomplish the goal of increasing vaccine availability. There are many ways to get that job done well while protecting IP, and the safety and security of the vaccine itself. It might be easier to just give them the information, sort of like using your shirt as a napkin, but it is a very messy way to go about things.
Margo Edris is an Account Executive for a national cloud-based software corporation, mom, wife and member of the current class of the Dodie Londen Excellence in Public Service Series.