Academics from Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia visited Cambridge in a programme facilitated by Cambridge Global Challenges that focussed on how innovation ecosystems can result from university-industry partnerships in the SADC.

The programme has reinforced my belief that there is never a uniform approach, particularly when working internationally...

Vibhuti Patel, Head of the Bioscience Impact Team at the Research Operations Office

The visitors brought specific cases addressing challenges such as malnutrition, air pollution, climate change and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, for which collaboration opportunities were identified with Cambridge researchers and with Cambridge Enterprise supporting the development of knowledge-exchange models and commercialization. 

“New doors were opened during the programme: the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency showed interest in adopting SignCoach for access by the Deaf society to their services, I was invited by the local radio station to present my work and both the level of adoption and of feedback from the general public significantly increased,” Lucia Otsetwe, researching Deaf-assistive technology at Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation said.    

"It was clear that there is a high level of motivation and inventive spirit within the academic community, which is ready to flourish with the support of experienced practitioners from the University of Cambridge, in spite of the R&D capacity constraints and the lack of a well-developed entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region" said Shirley Jamieson, Head of International Relations and Outreach Programmes at Cambridge Enterprise.     

The SADC Academia-Industry-Society Programme started with a workshop in Botswana in May, reflecting on local practices, infrastructure and policies. Cambridge researchers and knowledge-exchange practitioners contributed expertise ranging from open IP models for local sustainability to the political economy of agrarian change.   “The workshop gave me a great opportunity to learn what aspects of my research are important to people outside of my discipline. It also gave me an opportunity to get valuable feedback on both my research and ideas for future research.” said Jostein Hauge, working on African industrial policy and global value chains at the Institute for Manufacturing and Centre for Development Studies.  



João Salavessa of Universidade Lúrio in Mozambique explained: “The SADC Academia-Industry-Society Programme has had a key role in the strategy that our University is establishing to tackle regional development and environmental issues – such as drought periods, heavy rains, soil and coastal erosion and cyclones  – and it has already led to the design of a joint project with colleagues at Cambridge on microbial and electrochemical energy production systems.”  

The SADC Academia-Industry-Society Programme has captured key elements of Southern African innovation ecosystems addressing societal challenges, in which Universities have a fundamental role.

“We witnessed how Universities are uniquely positioned – due to their long-term commitment to their pursuit of knowledge – to trustworthily convene research and implementation partners that, together, can deliver solutions to societal challenges that are not attainable within most short cycles of political and economic growth agendas”, said Cambridge Global Challenges Progamme Manager Sara Serradas Duarte.

“The programme has reinforced my belief that there is never a uniform approach, particularly when working internationally, and that by adapting approaches academic-industry partnering could provide considerable solutions to societal needs in the SADC region” said Vibhuti Patel, Head of the Bioscience Impact Team at the Research Operations Office.

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