Narrowing industry-academia gulf:  AGI advocates conscious collaboration


The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) has called for deliberate collaboration between industry and academia in order to tailor research for specific needs of businesses.

This, it said, is crucial in the quest to commercialise research and leverage innovation to spur the growth of businesses in the country.

AGI’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Seth Twum-Akwaboah, made the call at a discovery roundtable for Ghana Industry University Research Institutions Collaborative (GIURIC) in Accra, and acknowledged that businesses need innovations to remain competitive; hence, academia must be conscious of industry’s needs.

He also made a point that the world has become competitive and ideas can be picked from the shelves, therefore a cohesive collaboration and understanding of the problems confronting industry by academia will allow for innovative and breakthrough researches which are fit for purpose.

His comments follow heightened calls for industry and academia to collaborate closely, particularly on how to finance relevant studies to meet changing market and consumer demands. Mr. Twum-Akwaboah however said this will only happen if industry and academia work effectively.

“Businesses look at their bottom line because they are doing investment, and when they do they expect returns. So when we talk about businesses investing in research, then that research must be helpful to their operations; support their survival and make it get significant returns. The research must indicate that it can help the course of operations,” he said.

He,therefore suggested a deliberate effort by academia to involve industry, so they will better understand the problem on the ground and spearhead research from that angle to provide the necessary guidance and innovation.

“If we see it to be a national call, and because of that businesses must just jump onto it, then that will not happen. We are dominated by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are struggling daily; so when you say they should commit to research by themselves, it will be difficult.

“That is why it’s important to have a national body or academia which have all the facilities to conduct research and develop products. But that must keenly involve industry, and must have a strong indication that it will help industry for them to be inclined to finance it.

“It is when it solves a problem that industry will implement it. And when it is implemented, it can ensure sustainability and subsequently brings returns; and in that case, they [industries] will be prepared to pay for it,” he added.

For his part, CEO-Private Enterprise Federation, Nana Osei Bonsu, has encouraged government to develop a robust policy framework for protection of intellectual property right, particularly research findings.

He emphasised that intellectual property rights must be entrenched in the country’s growth and industrialisation so as spur innovation.

The discovery roundtable was organised by Heritors Labs in collaboration with the Research and Innovation Systems for Africa (RISA) and Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI).

The General Manager at Heritors Labs, Emmanuel Prince Amartey said the engagement is expected to kick-start a national conversation on how universities and research institutions can forge closer collaboration to bridge the gulf between classrooms and practice; and how the two can pool resources together to promote groundbreaking research.

“We hope that this venture will open the floodgates for intellectual property co-creation and commercialisation of new products and services. Heritors Labs with the support of RISA will continue to play our role as facilitators, amplifiers and accelerators in the research, development and innovation ecosystem,” he added.

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