As countries seek ways of adding value to primary products, improve firms’ competitiveness, create jobs and explore new market opportunities, universities and research institutes have become the spotlight particularly as generators of knowledge that sparks innovation.
BioInnovate Africa participated in an international workshop on innovation management in universities and research institutions. The workshop was organised by Sida and hosted at icipe from 27–30 March 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The workshop aimed at fostering learning through experience sharing and knowledge exchange to create opportunities for collaboration. Participants were mainly teams involved in Sida bilateral research and innovation programmes in Bolivia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Participants noted that while universities drive the innovation agenda, especially in developing countries (such as those in eastern Africa), their societal impact is often less visible. This is because of their focus on scientific impact, that is, through publications and patents than on societal impact (such as long term environmental sustainability), as well as their inability to articulate the societal impact of their work, resulting from their role as knowledge repositories within the innovation environment. Thus, participants appreciated the need to evaluate and keep track of both scientific and societal impact of universities and research institutes with regards to innovations. Numerous views on possible solutions to the challenges facing universities and research institutes in translating research outputs to innovations were shared.