Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Linkages between industry and academia - all talk and no action?

Universities have long served as the traditional seats of innovation
and birthplace to many world changing technologies and businesses.
This has proven to be true in almost any country that can boast across
most 'developed' countries and even in some that are still 'developing'.

This phenomenon, however seems to have no traction in Africa as most
private sector players tend to spend millions on inhouse innovation
and R&D while bright and innovative uni students conceive,
conceptualise and experiment with potentially earth-shaking ideas that
generally tend to get filed away into some archive or stored in dusty
folder in a lecturers heap of unread student projects.

So I take the statements made by the Chair of the Kenya Private Sector
Assocation at this year's annual engineering students conference and
exhibition with a large pinch of salt. By his saying that the Kenya
Association of Manufacturers wants partnerships with colleges I fail
to see how this theme can be moved from talk into action.

The exhibition which is usually organized by the Chair of the regional
chapter of the IEEE, Kevit Desai, has yet to receive the kind of
presence and significance that such events should carry. I think that
besides simply calling for students to come up with new, exciting
ideas that they can demonstrate year after year (this year there were
250) it would be better to add on by having some kind of investment
matchmaking pitch to try and fund some of the more promising projects
and turn them into businesses. There could then be an annual review of
such projects that have received funding and inevitably, success
stories that would inspire students and investors alike to take each
other more seriously.

I think I'll go look for Kevit and share these thoughts with him so
that next years event can have a bit more spice and so that we can
start moving this into less talk and more action.
Sent from my iPhone


HASH said...

Wait, so you typed that whole post out on your iPhone!? ;)

The guys in university have a lot of good ideas, the drive to create them, and generally only lack the funding to implement them. It would take very little for the private sector to grow some goodwill, provide short jobs and training, and likely make a lot of money by tapping into the local universities.

Bryo said...

Imagine I typed it all on my ka-small iphone.... Desperate times call for desperate measures... I just 'had' to put the thoughts down and had no other means - the option post by simply emailing a special address unique to the blog is quite cool...

On the uni students - yes! I agree totally - can I engage you 'offline' in a discussion on some thoughts I have in this area?