Quadruple patent holder Dr Kenny Acholonu has called on regulatory agencies and players in the Nigerian scientific community covering medical, pharmaceutical, and most importantly nutritional products to ensure recognition and protection of intellectual property rights and thereby encourage innovation even as he commended regulatory agencies pushing for enhanced utilisation of patented micronutrient formulations.
Acholonu is the sole Nigerian patent holder for the design and technology of micronutrient powder essential for providing 15 micronutrients as a vehicle for improving the nutritional value of all semi-solid foods consumed at home. He also holds three US patents in organic synthesis of monomers.
Dr Acholonu stated that giving due recognition and compensation for patents would spur even more scientific innovations in Nigeria, increase productive intellectual capital, creation of high-wage jobs and high-value products. Consequently, the promotion of sciences, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) leads to increased patent applications which is now a measure of industrial competitiveness.
Patents are globally recognised as a government authority or licence conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) keeps a count of patent applications worldwide recognised as an index of innovation and productivity. China led in 2019 with 1, 400, 661 applications or 43.4 per cent of global total, the United States filed 621,453 or 19.3 per cent and Japan filed 307, 699 or 9.6 per cent. It is therefore imperative that countries like Nigeria should do more to recognise the few patent holders they have and to encourage more patent applications to compete in the global economy that is now driven by more of knowledge capital and less of financial capital.
Acholonu is the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) of Micronutrient Laboratories Ltd and founder of Bio-Organics Nutrient Systems Ltd 1991-2015. He earlier worked as a director at Hoffman La Roche in Nigeria and with the Stamford Research Laboratory, a division of American Cyanamid Corporation in the United States. He has over 40 years of academic knowledge application to various industries with special emphasis on micronutrient designs and formulation both in the food and beverage industy, animal health and nutrition industry, also the pharmaceutical industry.
Federal and State Governments are working strenuously to ensure that Nigeria develops capacity in various areas relating to malnutrition through food fortification in the wake of support by global financial institutions such as the World Bank- Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) Project. Nigeria is also stepping up efforts to meet the SDGs.
Micronutrient Laboratories Limited launched in November 2020 its Cognito Micronutrient Powder. Acholonu stated then, “Cognito began as a response to a challenge and societal need. Rotary International and UNICEF threw the challenge of local production of micronutrient powder in Nigeria in 2009. No pharmaceutical or food company could take up the challenge. Before and since then, Nigeria imports MNP. They approached me based on recommendation by BASF, the world leader in chemicals. I and my team took up the challenge. We produced Micronutrient powder to global standards. We have patented domesticated technology for producing micronutrient powder in the Nigerian market.”
Acholonu commended MDAs such as the Federal Ministry of Health, NAFDAC and the Nigerian Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) for their adherence to best practices and push for the expansion and growth of indigenous technology companies such as Micronutrient Laboratories Ltd.