The project will strengthen the capacity of research institutions in the regions towards sustainability of research outputs and effective management of research and innovation activities.
The project will also improve the dialogue between university-based researchers, policy makers and business partners for an improved translation of research outputs into policies, practices and products. This will support the feeding of evidence-based national and regional policies into the regional sustainable development agendas of the five participating regions.
The transfer of technology and new knowledge regarding new products to the commercial sector and so contribute to the competitiveness of local and regional industries is a highly-skilled area in which very few professionals exist in developing countries. Due to a lack of professional institutional support in the form of research and innovation support and management, individual researchers in these regions often find themselves isolated, unable to compete internationally, unable to access sufficient resources for their research, and disillusioned with their career prospects in the region. While pockets of research excellence certainly exist, the lack of consistency and sustainability, and the severe brain-drain seen is a reason for grave concern.
The project will address the following topics for the development of research and innovation management capacity and skills:
- Grantsmanship and the ability to evaluate and develop grant proposals;
- Programme-specific training sessions (e.g. EU Framework Programmes from a third country perspective);
- Project and financial management;
- Ethics in research;
- Facilitating research partnerships; and
- Intellectual Property Rights and technology / knowledge transfer.
Training programmes will be adapted to address the relevant local context. Networking will be facilitated through the establishment of regional associations of research and innovation managers. A staff exchange programme will ensure exposure to international best practice principles and mentorship programmes will provide a continuous monitoring of institutional progress. Accessibility to training materials and coursework will be ensured through effective dissemination strategies, which include electronic resources for easy reference and sharing, as well as the development of electronic tools, which will enable partner institutions to access databases of international funding opportunities focussed on the specific region. Physical training sessions in a wide range of topics will be provided in all regions. Policy dialogue will take place to ensure that work undertaken at institutional and regional level feeds into, and reflects wider policy issues, and that project outcomes are fully disseminated to key stakeholders who are able to influence at institutional, national and regional levels.
The project activities are divided into seven strands. Although these have been devised as a coherent strategy, each could be taken forward individually should the need arise:
- Creation of an Africa-wide and Caribbean communication network for those with an interest in research and innovation management issues, and research and innovation managers employed at institutional, faculty or research group level.
- Further development of existing regional research management structures in Southern and Western Africa, and the establishment of a similar structure in East and Central Africa as well as in the Caribbean region.
- Development of sustained training programmes for recipient individuals, with the long-term aim of providing the first professional qualifications for research and innovation managers on the continent and continuous professional development opportunities.
- Provision of mentoring partnerships, through which experienced research and innovation managers in developed and developing countries will assist with the design of specific projects and management practices.
- Expansion of an expert electronic facility, based in Africa, to provide support in the identification and exploitation of new ideas and training materials, for those institutions without in-house expertise.
- Maintenance and updating of an existing database of international best practice principles in the field of research and innovation management,on which institutions will be able to draw on in order to help design their own structures, and inclusion for the first time of francophone material as well as expanding to serve the Caribbean region.
- Establishment of mechanisms through which African and Caribbean institutions can benchmark their progress and problems with each other, both at operational and strategic level.