Ms Hamdiya Ismaila, General Manager of Venture Capital Trust Fund, has challenged universities and industry to establish synergies of innovation and invention to effectively cope with the accelerating development of science and technology.
She said the long history of academia and industry working at arm’s length was no longer sustainable, particularly in the face of the country’s numerous societal and economic challenges begging for innovative solutions.
“We know that importing innovation is not cost effective and so we need academia to work with industry to ensure we build innovative systems and processes in this country that is economical for us to use to build the country,” she said.
Ms Ismaila gave the suggestion when she delivered the keynote address at the launch of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) at 60 Innovation Report and 2023-2027 Research Agenda and special award ceremony.
She spoke on the theme: “Academia-industry innovation matchmaking: Practical steps for 21st century universities.”
Ms Ismaila observed that the traditional conflict between academia and industry bordering on confidentiality, publishing, intellectual property rights and ownership undermined their partnership much to the detriment of society.
She, therefore, called for a mindset that supported and promoted the seamless flow of knowledge, technology and solutions in all directions across universities and industrial boundaries.
“lmplementing significant change in academia-industry collaborations and the pursuit of innovation, sharing in winning principle should be expanded and an overarching common vision should be developed,” she said.
Ms Ismaila said academia ought to play a proactive role in the conceptualisation, deliberation and design of new systems and ideas to address emerging challenges, adding that, academia played a big role in research and development in industry in many developed countries.
“Industry must be involved in innovations because monies go after where good ideas are and if industry is involved in setting the agenda, there the likelihood that industry will pay for some of the cost because funding has been a very key issue around research in academia,” she added.
Ms Ismaila further raised concerns with the academic system of promotion, mainly hinged on writing, which she observed discouraged practical and tangible innovations and inventions for industry and therefore advocated a reassessment of same.
“If you want to be a professor, you need to go and do the academic research. So, if you are a robotic professor, you must write; you don’t have to build a robot. Industry needs a built robot and not a research paper,” she argued.
Prof Johnson Nyarko Boampong, the UCC Vice Chancellor, said the focus of the school had been informed by global trends in addressing complex existing and emerging challenges.
He said it was evident in the university’s maiden Innovation Report which chronicles its innovations and inventions in its 60 years of existence for the betterment of humanity.
In the same light, he said the school’s 2023-2027 Research Agenda which focused on six strategic research areas was situated within Ghana’s Centennial Development Plan, National Development Plan Commission (NDPC) agenda 2057, The
Africa We Want continental agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).
He said it was critical to make research and innovation a top priority in confronting developmental and societal challenges such as food security and safety, climate change, safe environment and sanitation.
“Emerging challenges in the past several decades and those of the 21st century have brought to the fore the need for African Universities to engage in critical research and innovations which will translate into tangible and usable outputs to improve the quality of life and society on a sustainable basis,” he said.
Professor Boampong said UCC, in furtherance of its agenda, had provided the school’s Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy (DRIC) with one million Ghana Cedis and was improving research infrastructure and equipment to enhance their work.
Professor Frederick Ato Armah, Director of DRIC, said the need for the university to collaborate with other academic institutions, national and international research agencies, industry, government among others to realise UCC’s research mission to impact society positively.
He said research and education were interconnected at UCC and therefore as working environments transformed, the university’s curriculum must respond to same by evolving to support students to adapt to all situations.
“Consequently, creativity, critical thinking, enterprise, intercultural competence and digital literacy are increasingly taking centre stage in our curriculum,” he said.
“The most pressing contemporary global challenges facing the world today are both social and natural, and our multidisciplinary approach places us in a unique position to develop and implement sustainable solutions,” he added.
Professor Armah said that the school’s current research agenda reinforced interdisciplinary collaboration and academia partnerships.
The school honoured over 80 past and present staff and management members including former Vice Chancellors, former Pro-Vice Chancellors, former and present registrars and former and present directors of DRIC for their exceptional contributions in putting UCC ahead of many universities around the world.
They were recognised for their excellence in strategic leadership, technical and administrative support, and excellence in research and citations.