………Getting government regulatory agencies and research institutes to work hard is the way to go.
That was the consensus reached yesterday at the breakout session on Commercialization of Science and Technology Products organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology at the ongoing Nigerian Economic
Summit (NES) in Abuja.
According to them, the Federal Government must insist on increasing local contents in all facets of the nation’s economy, as Nigeria boasts of thousands of creative minds who remain unknown due to the absence of strong platforms on which they could showcase their talents.
In his remarks at the event, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Maurice Iwu said the country a standard national framework for commercialization, backed up by strong legislation and a robust machinery for Research and Development.
Iwu, a Professor of Pharmacy, also lamented that research institutes in Nigeria were in low states operationally, stressing that adequate funding and the creation of a nexus between researchers and commercial experts remain key if the country must wean herself from over-dependence on foreign skills.
Iwu noted that researches in developed climes were mainly private sector driven and adequately funded by both individuals and government agencies.
He said: “You don’t commercial researches and discoveries. The only thing you commercialize is inventions and products. Countries give investors grants and incentives to encourage them to use local products. They also back them up such that if anything goes wrong, they will stand by them. That is how you strengthen local hands. They need patronage and encouragement to invent laudable products to improve the economy.
“In Nigeria, the World Intellectual Property Organization used us (my research firm) as a case study. How you can convert indigenous researches into products? That was their desire. They were seeing weaknesses here in Nigeria.
“For me, Universities should not commercialize anything. All their researcher should be made known and then transfer the technology to the commercial sector who does the marketing aspect.
“As a country, were not serious to commercialize. We dont have a boundary organization for commercialization. When technocrats join the government, they become bureaucrats and it damages everything.
“Again, access to money is not the only issue. Getting government regulatory agencies and research institutes to work hard is the way to go.
“For instance, the Ebola virus had national treatment research group as the government was deeply to see it tackled. But as soon as Ebola was out, the Ministry of Health dumped it. Now monkey pox is here. More will diseases may come because we live in the tropical area.
Iwu also called a close look at gaps in technology needs of the country, even as he revealed that 26 different products have been created by local hands.
In his remarks at the event, the Director General, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr Dan-Azumi Mohammed Ibrahim harped on the need for Nigeria to have technology transfer
agreement with foreign nations since about 90 per cent of innovations consumed in Nigeria are from overseas.
“Technology is a product of knowledge and should emanate from universities and research institutes.
But lecturers in Nigeria do basic research just to get promoted. You produce innovations on papers and that is not enough.
“On the way forward, we have 38 technology transfer offices across universities to protect innovations. We need to change the psyche of researchers so that they won’t do it just for academic purposes. Innovators need to get patents for their works. We need agents that can commercialize these innovations and for budding producers, let them learn to write bankable research proposals”, Mohammed said.