What do we already know?
Important scientific solutions and breakthroughs risk collecting dust on research institutions’ shelves if commercialisation is not incorporated into the research and innovation process and value chain. When it comes to the commercialisation of research and innovation in Ghana, there are many persistent limiting factors, including insufficient funding, a scarcity of resources, inadequate infrastructure, ineffective coordination, and a lack of country-specific policies that are in touch with existing realities and evolving dynamics.
Other issues, such as poor research process management, insufficient capacity building, and a lack of accountability and transparency, remain lingering pain points in our bid to close the gaps between knowledge generation, solution development, sustainable enterprises and mainstream adoption and utilisation of research and innovation.
It is not surprising to hear rhetorical and often straight-faced statements from the mainstream and general populace, such as, “With all the challenges we face as a country, what have all these university professors and scholars in Ghana done with their knowledge?”
A leaf from the playbook of peers and developed economies
Globally, economies such as the United Kingdom, Singapore, and South Korea have made significant strides in transforming their societies into yearn-to-reside developed economies by enacting effective policies and investing heavily in research and development. Their approach and deliberate intent to drive research and innovation output have gone a long way toward bringing about significant transformational change in their economies and elevating the quality of life in their societies.
These economies have demonstrated an unwavering government commitment to commercialising research and innovation by establishing agencies and councils solely responsible for Science, Technology, Innovation, and Research (STIR). In addition, innovative tax measures such as R&D tax credits, collaborative tax credits, research and innovation voucher and loan programmes, and patent boxes have been explored to facilitate access to funding.
Also, these countries have simplified and harmonised their stringent regulatory environments to improve compliance and efficacy in research and innovation commercialisation. Furthermore, IP (Intellectual Property) rights have been strengthened to provide innovators with the necessary financial and legal protections for their work.
Shifting the Paradigm: The RISA Fund
In a paradigm-shifting boost to Ghana’s research and innovation ecosystem, Heritors Labs has been awarded a grant from the Research and Innovation Systems for Africa (RISA) Fund to embark on a project to transform research and innovation commercialisation in Ghana.
The project will run from October 2022 to December 2023. The project focuses on enhancing the commercialisation of innovation and research outcomes, as well as developing communications, advocacy and marketing infrastructure for STIR. The project would significantly improve the research and innovation ecosystem by helping build capacity, create standards, and encourage strong and productive partnerships between universities, businesses, and research institutions.
In addition, through a series of programmes, the project would seek to bridge the gender equality and social inclusion gap by raising awareness among research and innovation stakeholders about the importance of considering the needs and interests of women, youth and people with disabilities in research and innovation initiatives.
Previously, between November 2021 and March 2022, the RISA Fund had awarded Heritors Labs a grant during an inception phase. The grant facilitated the creation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to enhance the quality of research outcomes.
In addition, a coordination office for the visibility and accessibility of innovation support programmes within the research and innovation ecosystem was established with the aid of the grant. A gender mainstreaming policy was also drafted to bring more diversity to the research and innovation space.
The Research and Innovation Systems for Africa (RISA) Fund is by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and funded by UKAid, to support and strengthen research and innovation systems in six (6) African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Ethiopia.
The joint fund originated from two complementary programmes – Strengthening Research Institutions in Africa (SRIA) and the African Technology and Innovation Partnerships (ATIP). The fund’s objectives include research institution and system strengthening, innovation system strengthening, and strengthening synergies between research and innovation systems.
Heritors Labs is a game-changing product development house, software engineering enclave, research centre, and innovation services hub. The organisation provides research and innovation consulting services and builds solutions and platforms that digitally transform organisational operations and engender smarter individual fulfilments.