To strengthen the foundations of science and business development in Africa, the Economic Commission for Africa ( ECA ) and the US-based Research Triangle Institute ( RTI ) have set up a program to help promising research undertaken by African scientists, reach the commercial market place.
The initiative, African Science to Business Challenge, will solicit proposals from researchers who are interested in receiving additional training in the United States in order to be able to market their proposals.
The 2009 inaugural Challenge focuses on two categories: biomedical engineering, which integrates physical, chemical, mathematical, and computational sciences and engineering principles for the study of biology, medicine, behavior and health; and water quality, which is central to the human rights and personal dignity of every person. The deadline for submitting entries is 31 May 2009.
“The ECA is proud to partner with RTI International on this important effort,” said Under-Secretary-General Abdoulie Janneh, who heads the Addis Ababa-based regional commission. “This unique collaboration is based on the premise that the African Science to Business Challenge can turn scientific knowledge into viable economic activities and enterprises," noted the Executive Secretary.
The programme is designed to balance the need for scientific research that addresses immediate social and economic needs while building Africa ’s capacity in science and technology.
“We are pleased to support this professional development opportunity for promising researchers seeking to commercialize their discoveries,” said Victoria Haynes, President and CEO of RTI International. Ms. Haynes said: “Creating the link between science and the commercial marketplace is a key component of our mission to improve the human condition by turning knowledge into practice.”
This initiative comes as a result of the
Science with Africa conference held in March 2008 in Addis Ababa , Ethiopia , which placed emphasis on business development in the scientific fields. Its major aim is to support the African development process based on the notion that science is a key strategy to business development, and in creating employment and wealth.
Specifically, the programme aims to provide African scientists and researchers with the business know-how, as well as the technical aspects, such as financial management, intellectual property, project management and market research.
It is also intended to build strong, ongoing connections between researchers and research institutions with industry and investors who can help to bring ideas, inventions and innovations into economically productive use, in a timely and effective manner to yield tangible benefits that contributes to the economy.
A panel of judges comprising prominent African and U.S. scientists will review the proposals and select the winner, based on the significance of the research and marketing potential of the proposed technology.
The selected candidate will be sponsored by RTI to travel to its North Carolina-based headquarters in the United States of America for the training programme.