Bioscience Innovation System in eastern Africa: Opportunities and Challenges Julius Ecuru BIPCEA
Synopsis• A bioscience innovation system is evolving in eastern Africa. The people and organizations are there; they just need to interact better.
Where do we want to be?• Countries in eastern Africa have a common aspiration & vision: – i.e. to achieve middle income country status as soon as possible (before 2030?)• Challenge, “how to get there?”
A shift in paradigms?• For over 2 decades, priority was on Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS) and MDGs. • This was necessary to provide essential social services (expanding access to health, education, infrastructure, etc); but has not been sufficient to build a foundation for long-term sustainable economic growth because outputs desired had to be immediate, short term. – But fruits from research & innovation usually ripen after many years, long term.• But now, dev’t efforts are increasingly characterised by a quest for wealth creation. • from “Poverty reduction” – “Prosperity realisation”
The key drivers• Exploiting the natural resource base – Minerals, – Oil and gas – Genetic resources • Although the question always is in what form? Raw or value added• Capitalising on the growing services sector – ICTs, infrastructure, education, health care, eco- systems services
Rising population, a double edged sword!• Eastern Africa, to be world’s most populous region by 2050 (UNFPA, 2010) – >700 million p’le – >50% urban – >50% below 15 yrs of age• Both sides of the sword demand new solutions through science, technology and innovation: – Productive & competitive private sector – Sustainable eco-solutions
Evolving a modern bio-economy in the region is the more sustainable growth pathway!• Why? – A rich genetic resource base; – Increasing demand for renewable bio-resources brought about by rapid globalization & climatic changes• Calestous Juma’s optimism: – “This opportunity offers Africa another opportunity for technological leapfrogging.” – Juma (2011)
A functional bioscience innovation system is the key building block of bio-economy• i.e. a complex network of people & organizations interacting and learning from each other in developing, adding value and processing local crops & other bio-resources.
Key actors• Public universities and research organizations making progress: – E.g. with tissue culture
• E.g. with converting ag-waste into bio-energy
• International and regional organizations playing a significant role
Lessons• The public sector (universities, research orgs, & government) can catalyse a rapid evolution of an eastern Africa bioscience innovation system, and specifically support the creation of new bio-based enterprises, or significantly enhance the competitiveness of the existing ones.
Role of the public sector remains crucial!• While in developed countries, private sector is a key player in innovation and creating new modern bio-business opportunities, in developing countries like most of eastern Africa, the public sector will for some time have a central role in supporting and engaging private sector in innovation efforts (creating modern bio-enterprises).
What we need1. Responsive policies – Policies should be enabling policies • Share visions, clear goals and sufficient incentives • Safety and quality of products • Intellectual property management systems • Favourable business climate, e.g. taxation regimes2. Stable financing mechanisms – Innovation funding on a competitive basis, make it annual and sizeable; – Government and donor support is absolutely necessary
What we need …3. Competitive products, entrepreneurship skillsenhancement and search for new markets – Researchers & scientists, get into business; • requires flexible regimes at universities/public research organizations – Have in place “business” incubation services, – Financial institutions, enhance capacities to assess bio-based business proposals.
What we need…4. Enhance human & infrastructure capacities – Increase funding to universities, to produce graduates with more practical skills5. Enhance linkages & communication – With all actors in the system; • Especially, universities and public research organizations should be better linked;
What are we doing? Bio-Innovate technological clustersBioscience Innovation Policy Consortium for eastern Africa (BIPCEA)
BIPCEA• Assists in putting in place effective policy support mechanisms at national and regional level which enable commercialization of Bio- innovations. • Identify and offer solutions to critical policy issues • Provide a platform for interaction & sharing ideas • Provide tools for effective management of bio-innovations
Moving forward• Countries in eastern Africa can use bio-resources as a strategic base for sustainable economic growth;• Ultimately developing a more sustainable and resource efficient “Bio-economy”
• Let’s go Bio!• The journey may be rough, but it is not too far.