Agreement aims to unlock African potential to catalyze research-led innovations into sustainable enterprises
Nairobi, Kenya| Thursday, 16 November 2017: The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) today in Nairobi, to create more value and enhance cooperation, interaction, and knowledge sharing in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Africa. The agreement was signed by Ambassador Walter Fust, Chairman of the Board, AIF and Prof. Felix Dapare Dakora, President of AAS. The MoU underpins the commitment by both organizations to catalyze research-led innovations into sustainable enterprises and to create opportunities for collaboration and knowledge exchange between researchers and grassroots innovators.
Africa’s investment in research and development (R&D) is less than 1 per cent of the global investment share, and STI infrastructure and resources continue to fall short. These factors are amongst the reasons that very few scientific discoveries translate into viable solutions that solve real African challenges. Furthermore, there is a need for increased collaboration between researchers and innovators to facilitate knowledge transfer that will enable the creation of more impactful and marketable innovations across the continent.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Prof Dakora said: “This far reaching partnership combines the expertise and knowledge from the AAS and the AIF bringing added value and developing a strategic way forward for rallying support and providing answers for the needs of African innovators. We are thrilled with the partnership.”
Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, commented, “We are pleased to sign the MoU with AAS and welcome them as one of our major science and technology partners. This partnership is a vital step towards enabling research-driven innovation in Africa. Currently, the bulk of emerging scientific ideas on the continent are driven by abstract pieces of research that do not always correlate to African needs, rendering many African innovations commercially unviable. Our partnership with AAS aims to bridge the gap between science and research outputs, and support the development of affordable and accessible solutions needed across Africa.”
The partnership provides a framework for AIF and AAS to harness each other’s expertise and networks to promote scientific capacity building to enhance ownership, support and sustainability of African innovations. It seeks to introduce and implement joint initiatives to create awareness about the role of STI in African countries and strategically support the development and growth of African innovation ecosystems across the continent. The partnership enables exchange and access to key innovation insights, offering AIF’s network of innovators, innovation enablers and partners’ exclusive access to AAS events, scientific information and other opportunities.
As part of the MoU, AAS will extend its support towards promoting the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), a landmark initiative of AIF aimed at spurring growth of innovative, market-driven African solutions to African challenges. In addition to promoting national or regional innovation initiatives, AAS and AIF will seek to mobilize other partners and necessary resources to ensure benchmarking and scaling of innovations relevant for sustainable development in Africa.
During the MoU signing ceremony, AIF and AAS jointly hosted a roundtable on the role of science in driving viable and inclusive innovation opportunities in Africa. Themed, “Catalyzing African Innovations into Sustainable Enterprise”, the roundtable brought together representatives of government, policy makers, business leaders, innovators, academia, and innovation enablers. The panelists included Ambassador Walter Fust, Chairman of the Board, AIF; Prof. Felix Dapare Dakora, President, AAS; Dr Kamal Bhattarchaya, Chief Innovation Officer, Safaricom; Mr. Michael Murungi - Manager, Policy & Government Relations, East Africa (Google); and Mr. Alex Mwaura Muriu, IPA 2015- 2nd Prize Winner who shared insights on how science and research enablers can collaborate with business stakeholders and grassroots innovators to increase the impact of African innovation.
Since 2011, AIF has proactively supported strengthening African innovation ecosystems through collaborative programs and strategic partnerships with governments and innovation influencers across the continent through the IPA. The annual Award celebrates outstanding breakthroughs that deliver practical and commercially viable African solutions that are innovative and sustainable. The call for entries for IPA 2018 is currently underway with a submission deadline of 10 January 2018 at 23:59pm GMT. Innovators from across the continent can submit their applications by clicking on https://ipa.africaninnovation.org or watching the video on https://youtu.be/MdO0I9GKfJU for more details.