By Ijeoma Olorunfemi
The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology on Tuesday in Abuja advocated the establishment of a Research and Development bank to address challenges of research and their commercialisation.
“The fund meant to provide competitive funding mechanisms to researchers and scientists to carry out tangible research has not been fully operational,’’ Science and Technology Minister of State, Mr Mohammed Abdullahi, said.
He said efforts were well underway to realise that.
He was speaking at a capacity building workshop on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy Design and Review Processes: Recent Advances and Methodologies.
“To mitigate the challenge of funding, the ministry is strongly advocating for the establishment of a Research and Development Bank.
“It will close the gap in the absence of venture capital to support the commercialisation of research findings,’’ he said.
The minister said a technical committee had been set up to liaise with different legal and financial regulatory agencies to address the issue.
The 3-day workshop was organised by UNESCO in collaboration with the ministry.
Abdullahi said since 2012 when its national policy had been in implementation, STI had impacted on solar technology development, leather products development, road research and space science technology among others.
He said the STI policy had many initiatives which included the establishment of a National Research and Innovation Council and the National Research and Innovation Fund.
The minister also said the implementation of the STI policy required creating awareness, developing monitoring indicators, encouraging state collaboration and stakeholders’ participation.
He added that the STI sub-sector was a catalyst for industrialisation, hence the government resolved to use it to drive other sectors of the economy.
Abdullahi further said that the ministry was part of the National Steering Committee on the National Development Plan Agenda of 2050, where the objectives of the STI roadmap 2017 to 2030 had been advanced.
He said the programme would promote innovation and technology-led industries, create enabling environment for private investments and develop Research and Development infrastructure that would lead to commercialisation.
He pledged that the ministry would be waiting to implement the outcome of the workshop and urged participants to use the opportunity to impact on their ability to be agents of change in STI to boost the economy.
In her remarks, Dr Enang Moma, National Programme Officer, Natural Science Sector of UNESCO, Abuja, said that some nations leveraged on COVID-19 to mobilise their scientific, social and industrial capabilities.
This, they did, by sharing data that enabled their evidence-based decision- making, she said.
She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused nations of the world to scale up investments in STI ecosystems.
Moma expressed regret that STI ecosystems were weak or inadequate in many developing countries, mainly in Africa.
“For STI to work for sustainable development and address on-going challenges, appropriate STI policy frameworks need to be developed.
“In this regard, UNESCO provides technical advice, methodologies and guidance to governments on the design, monitoring and implementation of STI policies as integral part of national development policies and plans,’’ she said.
She recalled that part of UNESCO’s intervention in STI was the regional training organised at Abidjan in 2018, where Nigeria participated to mainstream gender in STI, among other objectives.
Moma spoke as representative of Dr Dimitri Sanga, Officer-In-Charge of UNESCO Regional office.
In his remarks, Mr Sunday Akpan, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, said that STI was the means to development and economic advancement which Nigeria could not afford to miss. (NAN)