Ghana will host the 2018 GLOBELICS International Conference from the 24th – 26th, October 2016 with a focus on innovation and development through national innovation systems. Critical to national innovation systems is the research and teaching undertaken in the universities and other research institutions. Universities are critical to all national innovation systems and central to most national Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) systems. Therefore, stakeholders should be interested in deliberating on and providing options for strengthening the dynamics of the operations of universities.
Also critical to national innovation systems, is the proper packaging of research evidence for policy formulation, implementation and dissemination.
This leads to the concept of the development university, which seeks to strengthen university relationships with industry, policy and society. Hence, the subject of “Development University and National Innovation Systems,” is one of the sub-themes that will be discussed at the forthcoming 16th International GLOBELICS Conference in Accra. The discussions will present new and recent research findings in the field of university, policy, industries and society.
Presentations will focus on: Institutional Competencies for Research and Development Outputs Commercialization; the Role of the Public Research Infrastructure in University-enterprise interaction in Brazil; the Role of Science Networks in ensuring Social Responsibility of Science; and the Values and Drivers of Innovations. These will be discussed in the light of improving the Ghana and Africa national innovation systems.
Historical perspective of The Developmental University concept and African Universities
The concept of Development University was first articulated at the Association of African Universities (AAU) – sponsored Workshop in Accra on the emerging issues confronting African universities in the 1970s. This was in response to the criticism that the development of African universities in the preceding decade had turned them into white elephants and flashy symbols of modernization. The concept demanded universities to be relevant in terms of curricula and function to the specifics of African circumstances.
During the early 1980s, within Africa itself, there were also calls by experts and the AAU for the reassessment of the roles and missions of African universities to better prepare these institutions to meet Africa’s developmental needs for the 21st century. One reason for the call to reform the mission of African universities was that, “… Universities should shift their emphasis from providing abstract knowledge to problem-solving skills”. Whilst the entrepreneurial universities combine teaching and research, contributing to the economy, particularly in their local regions, the development university seeks to promote a strong linkage between university, policy and society to enhance human wellbeing as the concept of the “triple helix” of university-industries-government interactions.
The development university concept was here to stay and in the years that followed, universities in Africa established faculties for developmental studies. In Ghana for instance, the University for Developmental Studies was established in Tamale, Northern Region to help tackle the developmental challenges facing African communities, with a focus on rural development. The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Small Enterprise Development (CESED) of the School of Business, University of Cape Coast is also promoting entrepreneurship education, business incubation, and entrepreneurship research for socio-economic advancement of Ghana, its citizenry, and allied economies.
African universities including Ghanaian universities have gone through phases and have been labelled as, national, developmental, teaching, vocational and entrepreneurial universities. These universities are now pursuing a “world-class” university mission – “a university which have research as its core mandate and is also high ranked among universities of the world.” The call for universities to play a role in the overall developmental agenda for countries is therefore strong and emerging. Universities in the last year, have created platforms through seminars and conferences for industry and policy makers to present their work and research needs to the universities.
GLOBELICS as a Platform to Enhance the Development University Concept
GLOBELICS and the development university concept, have the same goal: to create a platform and networks between key stakeholders to use innovation systems to solve national and international developmental challenges.
Domestically, Ghanaian universities and research institutions have found a way to partner industries and society to make their research activities known to them. For instance, at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), open days have been instituted. Open days afford the Institutes under the CSIR to exhibit their research and innovations to industry and the public. CSIR has also established Commercialization centers to facilitate the dissemination of its technologies.
The Universities are also doing same – organizing seminars and conferences as well as establishing specific institutes with the goal to enhance the transfer of knowledge, technology and innovation from University research to meet the needs of industry.
By bringing together key experts in the field of innovation, the GLOBELICS International Conference will provide a platform, to brainstorm on how innovations will benefit universities, policy makers, industries and society. Additionally, it will provide the forum for reflection on the role of universities in the emergence, development and impact of social innovations. It will further generate the needed incubations and start-ups that are critical to university innovation systems.
GLOBELICS will afford participants and other stakeholders the platform to discuss how research from universities and research institutions can be adopted for policy and national development. Current challenges to the uptake of research, include the existence of a wide gap between universities, research institutions and industries; lack of trust and the non-involvement of industries and other stakeholders in the development of university research.
GLOBELICS will give all the stakeholders the platform to know the emerging concepts in university and industry relations and ways to strengthen it further. Ghanaian and African universities stand to benefit immensely from this International conference since research in innovation is relatively few and lacks the needed critical mass.
Ghana will have international innovation experts on its soil to discuss relevant issues that can benefit her national innovation systems.
About the Authors
Dr. Harris Andoh is a Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) expert at the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute- CSIR, Accra. He holds a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from the Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs. Justina Onumah is a Research Scientist specializing in agriculture and rural development at the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the CSIR. She holds an MPhil in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ghana. Contact: email@example.com