Ghana?s umbrella research institution, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with some 13 research institutes operating under it, is poised to survive in the face of virtual withdrawal of government subvention.
Obsessed by the virtual withdrawal of research funds, the institutes are gradually shifting from a activity-based to performance-based philosophy by linking up with entrepreneurs in the private sector to generate revenue.
They can no longer rely on government subvention, which has plummeted to almost zero, to undertake continuous research, and must of necessity think outside the box to survive.
As a result, the CSIR has established a Technology Development and Transfer Center (TDTC) with support from the World Bank under the Component II of the Ghana Skills and Technology Development Project.
This is being done in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and Innovation and the Council for Tertiary, Vocational Education and Training (COTVET).
The CSIR has developed several technologies and innovations applicable in the broad sectors of agriculture, industry, and services but there is a worrying lack of coordination between the institution and private entrepreneurs who must adopt them for increased productivity and wealth creation.
Dr Wilhemina Quaye, Director of the TDTC, told Xinhua in an interview that ?it seeks to establish a system that encourages and promotes the transfer and commercialization of research results? as well as liaise with international and local actors.
The overall goal of the TDTC is encapsulated in its Vision statement: ?The vision of the CSIR-TDTC is to become a centre of excellence that uses the transforming power of Science and Technology and Innovation (STI) for wealth creation through effective linkages between Research and the Private Sector.?
The mission of the centre is therefore to engage the private sector in partnerships for technology development, appropriation and transfer from the CSIR to industry.
It is thus to ?encourage CSIR research scientists to respond effectively to the technology demands from the private sector through incentive schemes? by creating a platform for intensive research-industry interaction such as fairs, business meetings and online discussions to facilitate commercialization in the CSIR?.
?We began with seven institutes in this project but we now have all the 13 institutes, including the Industrial Research Institute, Water Research institute, Animal Research Institute and the Food Research Institute, among others,? Dr Quaye said.
She mentioned Pozzolana Cement – which is made from clay or bauxite waste and replaces cement by between 25 percent and 33 percent – used for all types of general construction such as block making, culverts, drains, paving blocks, bonding and plastering as one product now popular in the Ghanaian market.
Others are fired clay products such as burnt bricks used as building materials, biogas technology, a combustible gas produced by anaerobic fermentation of organic materials by the action of methanogenic bacteria, and a product of the Industrial Research Institute.
The Crops Research Institute has also developed improved varieties of various crop varieties that are commercialized through the sale of breeder and foundation seeds.
Dr Quaye said Pozzolana, which is produced by the Building, Road and Research Institute (BRRI) of the Kwane Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, is funded by the World Bank.
Speaking at a stakeholder meeting at the centre recently, Dr Quaye said: ?We are using part of the grant to buy equipment to be able to increase capacity and link it with entrepreneurs so they can also increase their output.?
The TDTC, she said, was embarking on capacity training in capacity building, marketing, business and marketing development, as well as in partnership and collaboration to be able to market its products.
?We have no money but we want to make as much noise as possible about our activities. We also get regular feedbacks on our interactions with the private sector after such meetings,? she said.
On the sources of funding, Dr Quaye said the centre?s activities and programs were being funded 100 percent by the World Bank while the government takes charge of salaries.
She however added that the centre also receives support from GTZ, DANIDA, USAID, particularly, especially when it comes to other projects.
Dr George Owusu Essegbey, Director of the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) of the CSIR, said the ultimate goal of the Centre was to improve on productivity through the adoption of science and technology innovations by the private sector and thereby increase revenue.
?We want to demonstrate that things we do in the laboratory also work in the field,? he told stakeholders at the meeting. Enditem