Director, Agritrace Consulting Limited, Mr Fred Oduke has told scholars that there is need for African countries to gravitate towards knowledge based economies if they are to compete effectively with the rest of the world. For this to be realised, he advocated for greater synergies between governments, academia and private sector.
“As it has been sung from the time of our founding fathers, a country’s economic growth will depend on its ability to bring knowledge, technology, entrepreneurship and innovation to the center of its development agenda,” elucidated Mr. Oduke.
Speaking during the 3rd Innovation Incubation Seminar at JKUAT, September 20, 2018, Mr. Oduke acknowledged that the African ecosystem was ripe for incubation and that academia needed to leverage on technology transfer in order to grow access to research funding and catalyse the development of the country.
He observed that Africa had enough policy papers to support the incubation ecosystem but lagged behind in their implementation, and lacked the necessary human resource to drive the incubation agenda.
“With strategic partnerships between research institutions and industry, universities should play a leading role in building the capacity of technology transfer and incubation management workforce,” said Mr. Oduke.
While lauding the efforts of RUFORUM and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, Mr Oduke pointed out that it was imperative to beef up the networking aspect especially between higher education institutions to increase research funding. “Although a lot is happening at the policy level, research funding is truncated because the efforts are not cascaded to research institutions and universities,” he opined.
According him, it is essential for the research process to be conceptualized with the market in mind to ensure the scalability of its end products. However, he cautioned researchers to understand that not every research output has commercial value.
For incubation and commercialisation to work in institutions of higher learning, Mr. Oduke further noted, marketing and availability of resources was critical. He advised that incubation needed to be run as a not-for-profit entity, earning equity from business spin offs, and have as much autonomy as possible from the university.
To reiterate the opportunity and solid future of incubation in the country, Mr. Oduke informed the participants that the World Bank and Agritrace Consulting Limited were in the process of establishing 47 incubation centers countrywide. He implored the academia to take the lead in ensuring the success of the initiative. “Human resource development in incubation management is vital for the initiative and that’s where universities come in,” he noted.
AFRICA-ai-Japan project is organizing these series of Innovation Incubation workshops in a bid to transform JKUAT into an entrepreneurial University and provide insights on the management and commercialisation of innovation.