KAMPALA â€“ The Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (RIF) has on January 10, 2020, held a consultative workshop for representatives from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) aimed at understanding priority research and innovation needs in the different sectors so as to develop a robust research agenda.
The resulting agenda will help researchers to include new perspectives in research, restructure their processes and produce research that resolves community challenges.
Addressing the consultative workshop, the Chairperson RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC), Prof. William Bazeyo said that the priority areas identified by participants would form the basis for the next RIF Grant Call for Applications due mid-January 2020.
â€śOur objective as RIF is to support research and innovation initiatives that contribute to better delivery of National Development initiatives, guided by the key national and sector-specific development plans and global priorities. We, therefore, thank you all for coming today and we look forward to receiving your input so as to enhance the delivery of our goalâ€ť remarked Prof. Bazeyo.
The Chairperson GMC who is the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Finance & Administration) thanked the Government for utilizing the extensive skills and experience amassed by Makerere Universityâ€™s academia over the decades to find solutions to national development challenges.
â€śThrough RIF, we shall increase the local generation of translatable research and scalable innovations that address key gaps required to drive Ugandaâ€™s development agenda,â€ť he said.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe in his remarks thanked the Government of Uganda for committing to support research and innovations at Makerere University.
â€śRIF demonstrates the increasing importance that the Government attaches to our research and innovations as a catalyst to Ugandaâ€™s transformation into middle-income status,â€ť Nawangwe said.
He added that whereas there was no shortage of research and innovations from staff, commercialisation and patenting of the products remained an unfunded priority.
â€śWe are therefore recommending that the next release of funding for RIF should allocate money for commerialisation and patenting of already existing products such as our solar irrigation pump and others,â€ť he noted.
Prof. Nawangwe shared that whereas the first stakeholdersâ€™ consultative meeting had targeted Government MDAs, the subsequent one would target the private sector and civil society organisations.
â€śOur past experience with the Innovation Systems and Clusters Programme-Uganda (ISCP-U) shows that a triple helix approach that brings on board the Government, Academia and Private Sector is an effective way of transforming our Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). For example, the Katwe Metal Fabricators cluster was able to work with our Professors and improve their production to the extent that they now export inverters and generators to South Sudan and Eastern Democratic Republic of Congoâ€ť explained the Vice-Chancellor.
Contributing to the dayâ€™s discussion, the Executive Director, Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), Dr. Chris Ndatira Mukiza shared that his institution has a lot data that researchers can come together and mine.
â€śWe are open to collaborations with universities so as to turn this data into useful information that can move our country forward,â€ť said Mukiza.