Yaba Manifesto: Research and development


#1

###Synopsis

The Yaba Tech Cluster is firmly committed to encouraging innovation and seeding new ideas that can grow into profitable companies. We believe that it is through engaging in scientific research, exploring the impact of data, and providing a robust intellectual property protection framework that a research and development strategy can help seed amazing companies that can solve problems and change the world.

Grand Aim: To create a solid research and development backbone to support innovation in the YABA technology cluster.

Key Objectives

  1. Student Exchange
  2. Intellectual Property Salon
  3. Open Data Policy
  4. Support Institutional Research

@temie is the leader and moderator of this conversation. The live document of the research and development article for the Yaba Manifesto is available to view here.

Use this thread to leave your comments, suggestions and concerns. Don’t forget to observe the rules. If you happened to stumble on this, an overview of the Yaba Manifesto is here for you to gain context. Thanks!


The Open Yaba Manifesto is here
#2

Hi everyone,

Amazing efforts all R&D volunteers have put in so far, thumbs up.

First of all, – and if you all don’t mind, @lordbanks, @temie, @bosuntijani, I’d like to disagree with 2 Objectives set for the R&D pillar, as they are more suited to other pillars and leaving them as R&D objectives could distract contributors on the thread from solving the real problems in the R&D ecosystem within the Yaba Cluster over the next 10years.

The first objective which should be repurposed for another pillar is the Open Data Policy for companies; this is more suited to @gbengasesan’s Policy Pillar thread for development; I imagine when it’s developed (amongst other things), it will become a treaty to which we’d collect about 1,000+ signatures/commitment from Yaba companies that subscribe to the cluster’s Open Data policy – just in the same way nations sign up to treaties. But it should be for the Policy unit/thread to develop further.

The second objective which should be repurposed for another Pillar is the Student Exchange (as proposed); this is more suited to @delebakare’s Talent Pillar thread for development. A wise man once said that “a mind stretched to an ideas’ dimension never returns to its original length”; this is the primary objective of a Student Exchange framework – stretching the imagination of young Talents Locally and on a global scale. This should be a Talent development objective not an R&D one.

Moving forward…

A key question comes to mind: What are the problems confronting the R&D ecosystem in Yaba, and by extension, Nigeria?

There are about 8 – and from where I stand, I see that not all of them can be solved instantaneously, but I think we can make reasonable progress within 10years. I’d outline the problems as I have observed them since 2006, put out solutions to a few, and just leave the rest I have no idea how to solve; then the community can decide which we want to tackle first, which next and so on and so forth.

Two have already been beautifully laid out above as objectives. As time permits, I’d reply this thread separately with each 8 combinations of Problem/Solution/Action Steps that come to my mind for community deliberation…

Have fun everybody!


#3

Problem #1: Absence of R&D Synergy
Every year, more than 1,000 research projects are carried out at tertiary institutions in Yaba and neighboring cities in Lagos State, however, many of these projects end up in trash cans or end up gathering dust on shelves in libraries at UNILAG & YabaTech instead of ending up as commercialized products & services for the benefit of investors and end users. There are several reasons why this sad situation persists, one of which is the reality that many of these postgraduate & undergraduate research projects are in tangent (not in sync) with what the private sector and the government actually need.

Solution #1: Organize R&D Synergy Roundtable/Workshop, monthly
During this Roundtable, selected companies and government agencies will share their challenges or challenges in their generic industry and academic researchers in attendance from UNILAG, YabaTech & other neighboring tertiary institutions present can take up some of the issues put forward and embark upon them as their postgraduate Research Thesis or undergraduate research project as the case may be; this, of course, will be subject to the approval of their Professors/Project supervisors, who will also be present at the Roundtable sessions for better engagement.

This way, we’d have more research projects that solve local societal problems, and hopefully we’d be able to get more quality research outputs with commercial potential which companies and investors will be more interested in commercializing.

Suggested Action Steps:

  1. Community amends/develops & potentially adopts solution
  2. Identify a host (I’m open to hosting event if possible)
  3. Identify first responders (50 companies + 50 government agencies) for the roundtable
  4. Contact first responders
  5. Put logistics in place
  6. Host maiden edition
  7. Iterate & Improve

#4

Problem #2: Poor Institutional Memory
There is currently no central, local digital archive of research works across 100+ tertiary institutions and research centers in Nigeria (including Yaba), where local researchers can build on the works of past researchers or with which future researchers can build on the works of current local researchers.

Solution #2: The Looking Glass
This will be a searchable, ‘forkable’, digital archive of all postgraduate & undergraduate research works done in public tertiary and other research institutions in Yaba and neighboring cities. The benefit is that future generations of Nigerians will be able to stand on the Shoulders of Giants and build on current and past research projects instead of starting their research from scratch.

Every year when researchers complete their research work, it will be uploaded onto the digital archive in searchable and engaging formats prior to their project defense, in collaboration with tertiary institution authorities.

The digital archive will also have an Anti-Plagiarism Software to safeguard the integrity of the entire process and ensure that only original research theses are uploaded to The Looking Glass. If successful in Yaba as a test case, it can be extended from the Yaba Tech Cluster to 100+ universities & research centers around the country. The Anti-Plagiarism Software component of this solution should be developed locally and be opensource (codes available for free download) for other tertiary institutions in Nigeria & Africa to build upon/enhance.

A small fee can be charged for providing the main digital infrastructure to all tertiary institutions for The Looking Glass project. The fee could go into the costs of sustaining the activities of the Yaba Cluster Project.

Suggested Action Steps:

  1. Community amends/develops and potentially adopts solution
  2. Design ‘The Looking Glass’ digital infrastructure UX
  3. Design ‘The Looking Glass’ digital infrastructure backend
  4. Develop local Anti-Plagiarism software
  5. Determine other logistics needs
  6. Community meets with HOD’s/School Management of UNILAG & YabaTech
  7. Launch project
  8. Iterate & Improve

#5

@Engr_Abel_Akeni
While you have a point re: moving this to the talent pillar. I think there is still a place for it in the R&D section.
If we are going to get to a place where University Final Year Projects and Post Graduate Research can find immediate relevance and application in the local ecosystem, there has to be a way to connect the students (Undergraduate and Post graduates) who are doing this research with the industry.
The SIWES program was meant to help with this, but it has not worked.
What ideas do we have to ensure that students who are doing research can align their research with the needs of the industry? This could allow them unlock a number of things including funding for their projects


#6

i would recommend creating a special university that concentrates on STEM(Science, technology, engineering and mathematics),that way we kill two birds at once getting Talent and R&D.

This can be done by government and private partnership.private companies sponsoring R&D while government spending on infrastructures for creating the university in that way we create talents and also brings in innovative technology that will help in development of not only yaba but also Nigeria.


#7

@Engr_Abel_Akeni
Great contributions!
Was really looking forward to reading the other 5 suggestions :slight_smile:


#8

@Engr_Abel_Akeni I think the structure of your feedback is great, and hope to come back and add more detail to my suggestions; for now though here is my list of the 4 things I would add to what’s been included so far:

  1. R&D Centre/MakerSpace: Create a local space for makers, hackers and the hardware community to collaborate with each other and build. Perhaps bring a GE Garage to Yaba?

  2. Academia-Industry Partnerships: These may already exist, but if they don’t partnerships for knowledge sharing between academic institutions and business should be created, and these must include startups.

  3. Academic Research: Have government, industry, VCs etc fund academic research and pose industrial challenges.

  4. R&D Budgets: Drive an R&D culture by requiring annual budgets to include at least 5-10% for R&D when entrepreneurship funding is received.


#9

Thank you for your kind words. Time happened to me; I’d try to put in the remaining before the end of the week…


#10

Very good points.

However, in my opinion, the problems that the private sector and government face (and require solutions for) are very different from the solutions the academics in universities are looking for. The former (mostly) require adapted forms of solutions that already exist, the latter are looking for new solutions to publish papers.

One way they could work is if the private sector and government were prepared to fund such work.


#11

i totally agree with the re-organisation of the objectives.


#12

Hello @Nke_ise and everyone else, here are the remaining suggestions for improving the R&D ecosystem in Nigeria (presented as problem/solution combinations - continued from my initial post)…

Problem #3 - Misplaced priorities:
While the Federal Government is making commendable efforts in terms of appropriating funding to R&D (N169bn in 2017, N107bn in 2016 & N58bn in 2015), a closer analysis of the micro data for R&D over the last 3 years will reveal significant misplacement of priorities. For example, in the 2017 budget cycle, Yaba College of Technology requested for N293m for R&D from the National Assembly, however, it was only allocated N3.6m representing a 99% budget cut. Whereas, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs which requested for only N40m for R&D funding was allocated N1.5bn - a 3,760% increase. University of Lagos received only N5m for R&D; University of Ibadan and many other institutions which have adequate research personnel & a bit of infrastructure received zero, zilch from FG’s N169bn allocation to R&D in 2017. See who got what from the R&D allocation

Solution:
Yaba Cluster Initiative should work with Budget office and NGOs active in the R&D space to utilize Participatory Budgeting tools & best practices for all R&D allocations; this way all MDAs will aggregate inputs on priority areas for research & development from (a.) citizens, (b.) researchers and (c.) industry via (1.) simple online voting and (2.) offline engagement forums for relevant MDAs before figures are inputed into the budget proposal sent to future budgets cycles. This way, we won’t end up with a situation where Ministry of Justice HQTRS got an entire N10bn allocation for R&D whereas Ministry of Science & Technology HQTRS, a measly N1.8bn for research.

Problem #4 - Misappropriation of R&D funds
[High-Level Misappropriation] Another key problem with the R&D value chain in Nigeria is that monies allocated for R&D are NOT actually used for basic, applied or experimental research & development; some are spent on frivolous ‘trainings’, purchase of ‘vehicles’ and ‘construction of administrative buildings’.

[Low-Level Misappropriation] After majority of the R&D priorities have been misplaced, funding misappropriated, un-disbursed or stolen through shell companies at a high level, little funds still gets to real researchers & research companies. Here, unfortunately, a new layer of misappropriation can be observed even among researchers. Quite sadly, many researchers (and in fact, Nigerians generally) do not understand that when you misappropriate N100m put in your care there is an opportunity cost - a cost in terms of the forgone alternative, which, in the case of R&D is a better quality of life many Nigerians would have had if the money is spent on real research.

Solution
Yaba Cluster Initiative in collaboration with NGOs in the R&D space should advocate for evidence-based budgeting for R&D at NASS in future budget cycles; this way every of the 220+ MDAs that typically get R&D money will be required to produce a video and/or pdf documentation of research outputs achieved with the previously allocated funds; these documentations should be presented to the relevant committee of the National Assembly during budget review before any money is released for future budget cycles. This way, niggas that get R&D grants will sit up.

Problem #5 - Last Mile Solutions

Despite all the problems with the R&D value chain in the country, there are still a couple of researchers who are doing great stuff, but unfortunately there are no last mile solutions to bring their research outputs to consumers. For example, there is Justus Nwaoga of the University of Nigeria who developed an innovation for manufacturing solar panels (using photo receptors in Mimosa weed), there is Ebenezer Meshida of Afe Babalola University who developed a soil stabilization flux for boosting the life-span of Nigerian roads by preventing potholes before they occur; and many more innovations from professors, undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Solution
Yaba Cluster initiative needs to work with international development organizations and local companies to create market frameworks, e.g. a pre-order platform, so when a researcher has developed a working prototype of his/her product, we can put it up on the portal and aggregate orders (you can think of it as a kickstarter for the academia). For some products & services, high-volume preorders can serve as market validation and thus be useful for attracting investors to scale innovations.

Yaba Cluster initiative needs to advocate for capacity building for all key personnel operating in the last mile within the R&D value chain. For example, we can work with National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) to ensure that every university and research institution has at least 15 Certified Technology Transfer Professionals in its Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office (IPTTO). For now, many of the staff in the IPTTO offices are civil servants who are neither trained nor enthusiastic about transferring innovations from Universities to the industry.

Stakeholders in the R&D value-chain need to understand that Technology Transfer professionals are to innovations, what trained midwives are to pregnant mothers - without midwives, too many mothers will experience still birth of their babies; its the same with ideas.

Problem #6 - Absence of Consequence Management Frameworks

While there are a many researchers doing good work, broadly speaking, I still see a lot of plagiarized research projects - with no consequence to the perpetrators. Efforts have been made to curb plagiarism in the past; for example, 4years ago, the Committee of Vice Chancellors signed an MoU with TurnItIn to deploy anti-plagiarism solutions across 70+ Nigerian universities. However, widespread implementation of this MoU has not seen the light of the day in many universities for a variety of their internal political pushbacks I will not delve into in this piece.

Solution
Yaba Cluster initiative can work with developers to create an open source, web-based anti plagiarism software and provide this for FREE to ALL tertiary institutions in Yaba (and other States later on). At the same time, we should also work with the government to ensure that as a precondition for all cadres of researchers in universities (professors, postgraduate students, undergraduate students) to receive direct R&D funding from the Federal Government, there must be a widely adopted anti-plagiarism software in place in that institution - from any provider of their choice.

Problem #7 - Absence of an R&D culture in the private sector

Majority of the indigenous companies (both established ones and startups) in Nigeria do not yet see a business case for them to set up in-house R&D centers or partner with academic or research institutions to do so. The few academia-industry R&D partnerships in Nigeria are led by foreign companies like SPDC;

Solution
Yaba Cluster initiative needs to work with NGOs operating in the R&D space to carry out evidence based advocacy campaigns targeting Nigerian companies; the short term objective of this campaign will be to get up to 500 of the biggest companies and startups to commit 10% of their CSR spend to R&D. This commitment can then be used to directly fund mutually beneficial research initiatives undertaken by ALL cadres of innovators (undergraduates, postgraduates, professors, graduates etc ) within and outside the academic world.

End

Sorry people it took this long to post…


#13

Greetings to everyone,

It has been an absolute thrill reading the comments and contributions made to Research and Development pillar of the manifesto. It goes to show our depth of thought and our yearning for progress.

The great ideas proposed, if properly implemented, can truly grow our tech ecosystem and greatly increase the quality of products.

What are the next steps?

Over the next two week (Aug 7th - Aug 18th), the volunteer committees for each team, coordinated by pillar leads would collate all the suggestions made here and across social media. They would refine it and make the additions to the existing draft.

We are using this opportunity as well, to ask people who are interested in being volunteers for each pillar to do so by dropping their email addresses. You would be contacted by the pillar leads.

After the collation of all elements of the manifesto, the committees would create a sample implementation plan for executing the ideas we have proposed during this process.

Simultaneously, Dele Bakare and his team would create the website that would house the manifesto.

Further information about the progress of the manifesto would be provided as time goes by.

Shoutouts to everyone who contributed to this thread; @Engr_Abel_Akeni @nke_ise @jamesbond @jay_oaks @ideadibia @LayeMicheals , if possible I would advise we indicate interest to be a volunteer and take a part in seeing these ideas to fruition!!

Cheers,

Francis Sani. (Manifesto clerk)


#14

volunteer, yes! Policy cluster...gbemmisorlar@gmail.com


#15

Yaaaay… :raised_hands::raised_hands::raised_hands:
That’s awesome.

Email received.


#16

Can I volunteer for Research and Development? - ehiosao@gmail.com