Lack of Institutional Infrastructure May Cripple Research Commercialisation


Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Committee on the Commercialisation of Research and Development (R&D) efforts, set up by the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has expressed concern that the lack of institutional infrastructure may impede commercialisation of research findings in Nigeria.

The committee said although quite a number of research and development efforts had taken place in the universities, research establishment, and even private laboratories, most of the R&D efforts had been lying fallow in the laboratories, workshops, with little or no contribution in the socio-economic development of the country.

Chairman of the Committee and Director General of National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. Dan Azumi Mohammed, disclosed this recently while submitting the blueprint on the commercialisation of R&D efforts to the minister.

He said that the minister constituted quite a number of committees to look into how science and technology could contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of the country, having realised the importance of R&D to the Nigeria economy.
Mohammed noted that the committee was expected to see how the mindset of researchers could be changed to take research efforts as a means of economic development for targeting problem and solving it rather than as an academic exercise.

According to him, “Nigeria has for a long time been relying more than 90 per cent of its technological needs from outside the country. The world is moving from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy. Nigeria must have to braced up, come out with strategies to see how our research and development establishment could become significant in the socio-economic development of this country.”

Mohammed added: “I must emphasise that commercialisation of research and development is not easy. Though not peculiar to developing countries, it is also a problem to the developed countries. We must have to put necessary infrastructure in place to see that we must commercialise our research and development efforts.
He noted that most of the surveys conducted by the committee indicated that most of the research efforts are now at pilot stage level, saying that there was need for private sector to come in and move it into the next level.

“From the data we have gathered, we have quite a number of technologies that have the potential to translate into products and services, but because the institutional infrastructures are not there, are not fully there, we may not be able to realise this dream.

“It is when all institutional infrastructures are put in place, then research and development results that have the potential to translate into product and services could now see the end of the light,” Mohammed added.

He stated that when the National Research and Innovation Council bill, which has passed the second reading in the National Assembly is eventually passed, there would be national research and innovation fund that would be able to fund some of the R&D efforts and move them to the next level.

“The report comprises of various steps were expected, the various infrastructures that are needed for the commercialisation of research and development efforts, and the strategies we must have to put in place to see that the research efforts translate into goods and services. It is only when that is done, then we may not have any benefit from undertaking R&D efforts,” he said.

Responding, the minister pledged that the report would be studied carefully and would be implemented so that the nation could benefit from it. He called on all researchers to protect their intellectual property by securing patent, stressing that any research finding that deserves commercialisation should be patented.