Scientists focus on commercial skills at workshop in Ghana

29 July 2014

Forty delegates from four countries in Africa took part in a workshop on entrepreneurship held at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Ghana on 14–19 July.

Scientists focus on commercial skills at workshop in Ghana

The workshop, “Entrepreneurship for Scientists and Engineers in West Africa”, was jointly organised by AIMS and the IOP and attracted participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. 

The focus was on learning entrepreneurial skills to commercialise scientific inventions, and topics included innovation, intellectual property and technology transfer.

Delegates took part in discussions, case studies and role play as well as hearing from invited speakers. Rather than concentrating on hi-tech applications of research, the emphasis was on technologies relevant to the issues faced by countries in the region, including infrastructure, education, healthcare and energy.

One difficulty faced by some farmers in the region, for example, is how to use harvested crops that cannot be immediately sold in local markets. Without good transport links or nearby factories, parts of the crop that could be turned into useful products can be wasted.

The IOP’s international relations manager, Dipali Bhatt-Chauhan, said: “The participants had their own local problems that they needed to think about. They had identified the issues that needed to be addressed and were looking at how they could make use of their existing knowledge to find solutions.”

Among the sponsors of the event along with AIMS and the IOP were the American Physical Society, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and the Optical Society (OSA).

On the last day of the event, delegates presented a business plan for a proposal to commercialise an innovation. The OSA has offered $2000 as seed funding for a potentially marketable invention or idea produced by a participant or group of participants in the workshop or in a similar workshop that is due to take place in Kenya in December. The proposal could be one that was presented at the events or developed afterwards, but must be led by a workshop participant. Applications will be judged by the panel of speakers from the workshops.