Forward Thinking: supporting the academia. What can be done?

16 de September de 2020

Figure 1 © Unsplash/Ramon Salinero

The active role the universities are playing to provide solutions to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in the country shows clearly that the social responsibility of the academia goes beyond training students. The determination shown by several universities across the country, to serve the general public, at local and national level, are, in our understanding, what we can expect from the academic community during good and challenging times.    

Apart from all the technological and scientific steps taken so far against the coronavirus , the scope and effect of the pandemic also meant that every supply chain is hit hard by the disease, causing import tariffs to skyrocket and goods to take longer to be delivered. In other words, acquiring most raw material in the country to develop those innovations has been a struggle for the innovators, as the key material needed rely on importation. The impact of these temporary restrictions is translated to the price of the final product, when moving to a commercial level, causing some challenges for scaling up, replicating and expanding the technology.   

Another equally important aspect worth mentioning is that, although the investigators behind the interventions are relatively young and come from diverse academic backgrounds, the number of women accounting to the core teams was very low, or nonexistent in some cases. This data does not represent the whole profile of the country, but can be used, perhaps, as an indicator for reflection on the (gender) gap that still requires some calibration.  

Figure 2: © Unsplash/ThisisEngineering RAEN

Nevertheless, on a more optimistic note, these solutions mapped within the academia can be taken as an evidence of what can be done in the country- even within difficult working conditions, as the ones we are living in.  

Hence, a recent partnership that UNDP Angola has established with MESCTI outlines the creation of an innovation and technology network that is expected to support, initially, 2 pilot incubators in public universities. This is expected to be the first step to foster the creation of more incubators and, also, an incentive to the emergence of new entrepreneurs- transforming their ideas into commercially viable products.  Additionally, the partnership will also include joint efforts towards the mobilization of funds to support the activities and other common goals. Therefore, any harvested investment directed towards local and regional research institutions is expected to be greatly valued and applied. 

We hope you have enjoyed the reading that follows:

Part 1: What are the universities doing in times of COVID19?  An Angolan overview.

Part 2: What´s happening? How academia is responding to the COVID 19 pandemic?

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