Against the background of the bureaucratic bottleneck encountered in acquiring patent for research innovations and other challenges , university Dons explained that funding of research innovations, encouraging appropriate organs of the institutions to have units for innovations, as well as evolving a clear cut policy on such meaningful research will do the society a lot of good. Funmi Ogundare reports
Over the years, Nigerian universities and research institutes have been generating some inventions, however, only few of them have been patented because the researchers had probably not been sufficiently motivated. Patent education is also said to be poor in Nigerian institutions because the researchers were uninformed about patent issues. One of the challenges confronting patenting of innovations is a lack of a clearing house of research efforts such that inventions and efforts are not duplicated . Another is the bureaucracy that is involved in acquiring a patent. At the end of the day, this makes the research gather dust on the shelf without adequate effort being made on it .
As a way of mitigating these problems, university dons have stressed the need for funding of research innovations, encouraging appropriate organs of the institutions to have units for innovations and that evolving a clear cut policy on such meaningful research would impact positively on the society.
A Professor of Geography and Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Professor Ayo Omotayo told THISDAY that researches are meant to solve problems or aimed at finding better ways of doing things by bringing new products and services into being.
“It must reflect the society in which it operates. Stakeholders are supposed to be carried along because they should be the final consumers of research output. So, the only way is for researches to be based on those things that would be of direct benefit to the society. If you do that, you would have people waiting to consume the outcome of your research.
He however expressed concern about patenting innovations in the country’s ivory towers saying that products should be locked down for innovation even before the final outputs are perfected and that rooms should be made for reversal, such that if output fails, there would be prescribed outcomes .
“That is what is called patent pending,” he said.
Evolving a clear cut policy Omotayo affirmed that this requires that universities must look for ways or means of relying less on government for research funding, adding, “there are several other research funding entities that universities can approach for funding . If I were running a university, I would pull resources in our best areas of strength and hopefully get to a level where we can acquire a patent that could give the needed breakthrough.”
Asked how institutions can bridge the gap between the town and the gown for the development of research in the country , the director said, “we need to consider the gown as stakeholders whose needs should be the focus of the researches in the first place . If we can achieve that , it means the outcome of researches would have ready off takers. For me, researches should be not be theoretical only, it should administer to the needs and challenges of the town.”
The Vice-Chancellor of LASU, Professor Olarenwaju Fagbohun said his institution had recently inaugurated a directorate of research and innovations, designed to foster impactful research work with the business community.
He appealed to the directorate to focus on innovation and patent, saying , “We must have a patent . We want to sit with the industries and discuss with them the commercialisation of the solutions we have provided.”
Former Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Peter Okebukola said it is on account of research carried out that will make universities either a leader or a follower, adding, “ you must talk about funding and how it is acquired to carry out research and evolve clear cut policies on research and innovations.”
Former Vice Chancellor of Ondo State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTEC), Okitipupa, Professor Tolu Odugbemi said research should not be viewed with trepidation rather it should be seen as part of finding solutions through simple , reliable and repeatable methods to challenges and humans can encounter in life changing scenes.
He also stressed the need for research funding especially at the tertiary education level saying that it is vital for good output that will be relevant to societal needs.
He recalled his research activities carried out in collaboration with outstanding students, scholars, colleagues and remarkable teachers saying that most of them were published in reputable journals , aside attracting local, national and international awards, led to invention for the cure of certain diseases in the country.
“At the College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, my outstanding teachers; Professor Oladeinde Dosumu Ogunbi and Professor Deji Femi Pearse , who were my supervisors sustained my interest in research in topics like diarrhea diseases and pathogens, streptococcal infections, and nosocomial infections. Many research publications on reputable peer-reviewed journals emerged from these studies.
“My research works at the University of Sheffield , United Kingdom from 1976 to 1978 under the supervision of my eminent teachers; Professor Michael McEntegart and Dr. Anthony Jephcott of the Centre on Sexually Transmitted Infection/diseases, Neisseria gonorrhea and Betalactamases, led to my doctoral degree and publications of top -rated articles in high ranking journals contributing to various studies, knowledge and inventions over the years.” Odugbemi who was also the former Vice-Chancellor of University of Lagos stressed.
Research at all levels, the don said, should be encouraged, maintained and sustained, adding, “focus, integrity, courage, perseverance and passion are important behavioral attributes for meaningful research which will impact positively on the society.”
The Vice-Chancellor of Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, Professor Ademola Tayo said the quality of research carried out in his institution has made a big impact.
“For instance, two of our graduates established Paystack; a safe payment system, which offers seamless money transactions between businesses and their customers. Within the first three months of this year, they had processed over N3 billion and generated about N40 billion annually for Nigerian businesses. The company is powering over 9,000 businesses in Nigeria alone and creating about 25,000 jobs. The young graduates of the institution brought this into being with about 50 employees under the age of 35 years. You can imagine what these young people coming up with innovation and learnings will do in the next 10 years!
“There is also ENACTUS Babcock, a student entrepreneurship group in the university. What they did was that they came up with solutions to check road accidents mortality through the use of alcohol detector and car demobilizer. They also presented two smart solutions ; project gel to empower target communities and are also involved in roll back malaria project to curb malaria pandemic in some parts of Lagos State. This project gel involves the use of organic biodegradable material, such as leaves and egg shell to make cooking gel in place of kerosene for local stoves.”
He said the institution trains its postgraduate students to be solution providers who would not just carry out research that will gather dust on the shelf.
“For instance, the students went to Ijebu Ode community, looked at their critical problems and proffer solutions to it. Aside that in our agric department, they invented the integration of Arbusular Mycorrhiza fungi amd poultry manure as alternative to fertilizer in the production of vegetable in Ogun State. This project was co-founded by Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in partnership with Babcock to the tune of $153,448.
“One of our staff in Babcock University Teaching Hospital, received a research grant from the European Development Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCPT) to solve the problem of malaria among pregnant women. The EDCPT career development fellowship is worth 85,875 Euros. There are lots of researches going on here. But these researches are not esoteric but rather they are that which will impact our society and provide solutions. As I talk to you now, we have 30 of our research that we want to patent. Once it is patented, the implication of that is that it is going to have wider impact on people.”