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Private sector told to fund research and development activities

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Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment Science and Technology (MEST), on Monday called for private sector collaboration in the funding of Research and Development (R&D) activities to enhance the development in Science, Technology and Industry.

She said such supports would help cater especially for the needs of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which can be nurtured to become the cutting edge for the commercialization of novel products or processes or innovations.

Ms Ayittey, who was addressing an interactive forum between industry and the University of Ghana faculty researchers, urged companies to put back some of their gains into R&D in order to derive maximum benefits in innovations.

The forum, which was organised by the University of Ghana’s (UG) Institute of Applied Science and Technology in collaboration with the UG-Carnegie Next Generation of Academics in Africa Project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, was to strengthen collaboration between academia and industry to ensure innovation and development.

Ms  Ayittey  noted that typically, the MSMEs have limited resources both for financing initial R&D and for transferring technology to or from national to international technology vendors.

“Therefore, it is important that all sectors of the economy, especially the private sector realise the importance of science and technology and provide adequate resources to support such activities stressing on the need to put in place the necessary systems to ensure that such resources are utilized optimally to prevent duplication of research activities.

She said the Ministry is its quest to abate the country’s overdependence on foreign goods has developed a Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy to guide the government.

It has also established a Science and Technology and Innovation Fund (STIF) with a seed capital of two million Ghana cedis to support R&D of products and commercialization.

“It would be subsequently topped-up annually with the commitment of one per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, to ensure that Ghana moved from the mindset of a product- base to knowledge-based development.

Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, Vice Chancellor, UG, said current findings has shown that development, technological and environmental issues involve complexities that require trans-disciplinary research approaches to address, and therefore called on government to support the institute with the requisite infrastructure to undertake the task.

He said the institute has been since its establishment, been collaborating with industries to improve on their products and also bring about innovation.

Prof. Ernest Aryeetey said the University already has a wealth of highly trained human resources from its colleges, faculties and institutes who could be mobilized to undertake trans-disciplinary research to address the industrial development and the socio-economic needs of the country.

He said both the University, industry as well as the nation stands to gain greatly from R&D by exploring science and technology to boost quality and production of products and services.

Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, said government recognises the importance of higher education in R&D and is committed to strengthening the legal framework and policies to safeguard the Intellectual Property and Patent Rights of the academia to maintain knowledge originality of their products and services.

She however stressed that it was important that Ghana prioritises her research and development needs by looking at which products the country needs to ensure effective planning and investment which would be backed by policy and law for maximum results.

Ms Tetteh applauded the UG for establishing the Institute which would explore the use science and technology in enhancing products’ value for consumers and expressed the hope that the collaboration would be sustained to ensure national development.

Source: GNA

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