Infrastructure challenges, others affecting research output, says expert

The Chief Technical Officer, 9Mobile, Mr Baqi Salihu, has said infrastructural challenges such as lack of power and research laboratories and an unstable academic environment are affecting technology research output.

While mentioning other problems affecting the evolution of research into innovation, he said lack of entrepreneurial spirit, lack of synergy between knowledge centres and the tech industry, and lack of local industry interest in the nation’s research and development were also challenges impacting on research output.

He disclosed this during a paper presentation at Nigerian Communications Commission’s ‘Roundtable with academia, industry and other stakeholders in the Southern region.’

Part of the paper titled, ‘Improving adoption of research output for commercialisation through collaboration,’ said, “To receive the benefit of knowledge and to receive returns from investments in research and development findings, resulting innovations must be sold, bringing good ideas to the marketplace.

“For such innovations to be appealing, they must be addressing a gap in the market, holds profit potential, implementable, and scalable for growth. Irrespective of commercialisation model, engagement and collaboration among stakeholders is key to achieving economic value in findings coming from our knowledge centres.”

It disclosed that less than two per cent of R&D in Nigeria had been commercialised. The paper revealed that Nigeria was not a top innovation economy in the sub-Saharan Africa region which was led by South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania.

It stated that improving research output adoption would require stakeholders’ collaboration to allow for focus on market-led research and development, bridge the information gap between industry, academia, and regulators, create access to incubation centres, and improve the chances of better funding.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said the roundtable was to encourage the commercialisation of locally developed telecommunications innovations as a way to foster and deepen the indigenous technological capabilities of Nigerians, support the overall growth of the industry, and create wealth for the companies that would benefit from the adoption.

Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, NCC, Ms Josephine Amuwa, said, “The academia is a key driver of innovation in all spheres of human endeavour.

“But in specific terms, the ideas, inventions and improvements that emanate from the academia are required by industry for improved efficiencies and productivity. With this in mind, the regulator as a critical component of any ecosystem aims to ensure all stakeholders are protected and the industry nurtured for maximum benefit to business and society.

“Faced with the challenges of commercialising research prototypes, it is clear that the commission will have to make a commitment to facilitate the contributions from academia, by supporting the commercialisation of these prototypes, to deepen the indigenous technological capabilities which would support the overall development of the industry.

“While appreciable impacts have been achieved since the commission reinvigorated the award of research grants for the telecommunications-based research innovations from Nigerian academics, it has become imperative to focus on the successful commercialisation of these locally developed telecommunications innovations, which is fundamental, to achieving the overall objective of the programme.”

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