Gold Medal for Chile

Maximiliano Santa Cruz Scantlebury
National Director of the National Institute of Industrial Property – INAPI

In 1986 the world heard the breaking news on the field of medicine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of the first recombinant vaccine, product developed to fight the Hepatitis B virus, a potentially mortal infection.

The Chilean biochemist Pablo Valenzuela Valdés was behind this historic scientific achievement. He became a referent of the genetic engineering as well as a pioneer on the technology transfer at the University of California, San Francisco.

The invention was patented and then licensed to pharmaceutical firms who were responsible for distributing the vaccine to dozens of countries. The license agreement has become the most prolific in term of economic results for the University of California, San Francisco in almost two decades, allowing funding new discoveries and further technology development.

Later the protection of industrial property on the vaccine, based on research about yeast, produced a number of tests which transformed the blood banks in a safer source.

Dr. Valenzuela´s contribution still gathers praise. On last October 22nd he became the first Chilean scientist to be awarded with the Gold Medal for Inventors, given by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The award was promoted by The National Institute of Industrial Property of Chile (INAPI), due to Valenzuela significant contribution to the creation of new knowledge and its appropriation, which has meant a truly entrepreneurship engine for development.

The award had a special meaning for the patent system, as was given at the first anniversary since INAPI began operations as International Searching and Preliminary Examining Authority (ISA/IPEA) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This new role, reserved only for 21 national agencies in the world, has meant a stimulus for Chilean universities and inventors in order to globalize their inventions and reach bigger markets.

During this year, 11 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, which are PCT members, have designated the Chilean office as the mandated office to search and conduct the preliminary examination on patents.

Thus, the Chilean agency of industrial property provides services beyond their borders as well as Chile paves the way for the proliferation of new inventors who might impact the world with their technological developments as Pablo Valenzuela did almost three decades ago. He is the undisputed winner of the WIPO Gold Medal.

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