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Research Details

End Date : 18.09.2014

Start Date : 18.09.2013

SOUTHERN AFRICAN INNOVATION SUPPORT PROGRAM REGIONAL TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER OFFICES

Department : Research and Development

Researcher : Dr. Tshiamo Motshegwa

Research Detail:

Delegates from three Southern Africa countries came together at the University of Botswana to map ways in which Technology Transfer and Offices can support innovation programs. The partners are, Botswana through University of Botswana led by Dr Tshiamo Motshegwa, Namibia through Namibia Business Innovation Centre (NBIC) led by Dorothea Westhofen-Kunz, Zambia through National Technology Business Centre (NTBC) led by Mr Bright Chalwa and Mr Innocent Mandona. Namibia NTBC is the lead partner and partners can involve sub partners for some activities. Botswana has involved Botswana-UPENN partnership through Mr Ryan Littman-Quinn for some capacity building activities, and Zambia NTBC has CopperBelt University led by Dr Julius Banda.
 
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to both national and regional goals by promoting and strengthening the full economic value chain in the technology transfer space (IP, design, manufacture, distribute and retail). This will be achieved through collaboration of the above mentioned countries whose aim is to become technology transfer (TT) service providers in their countries. The project is about establishing regional open and publicly accessible Technology Transfer offices in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. The functions of a TTO can be varied and tailored and are part of the innovation pipeline. Invariably and primarily involves support for intellectual property ownership, incubation (e.g. prototype and pilot design, business and team development), licensing, capacity building, help with agreements and others. It is also through this project that the team aims to do away with the culture of labelling technology as IT and perhaps give a clearer meaning of the term.
 
The project is sponsored by Southern African Innovation Support Programme (SAIS will provide seed (kick start) funding for the whole project for the regional TTOs to the amount of Euro 180,000 of which Botswana Project will get a proportion of around Euro 70,000. This is to fund country Needs assessment, current initiatives and gaps analysis, capacity building, knowledge exchange forums, pilot TTOs, technical assistance, equipment overheads just to mention a few.The project will run till January 2015, the end will coincide with the end of SAIS involvement in funding initiatives in the region with the hope that projects will have matured and be self-sustaining. Dr. Tshiamo Motshegwa who is the lead investigator and project coordinator and manager for the Botswana Technology Transfer Office, will liaise with the university and other stakeholders to ensure the best use of resources to set up a publicly accessible and self-sustaining technology transfer office. He will also coordinate closely with local bodies e.g. Botswana Innovation Hub to set up cooperation models regarding TTO functions and he will collaborate with regional partners NBIC, NTBC for knowledge exchange. He will also together with local stakeholders develop sustainability and continuation plans, drive capacity building activities and establish permanent networks to nurture interplay between multi-helix partners.
 
The project partners are members of SADC and are committed to the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan of 1999 to achieve deeper integration through collaborations and networks. The predicted services of the TTOs would include assistance with the IP/TT enquiries and needs, identification of new technologies and innovations for commercialization, forming development and commercialization strategies such as marketing and licensing to existing companies or creating new start-up companies, national and institutional policy development, capacity building, skills transfer, academic education, a platform for dialogue with industry and coordination of research projects. In the long run the Botswana TTO will evolve to provide services that have been proven elsewhere to work in technology transfer units, such as;
a. Help create spinouts and the services required to support that, e.g. commercialization strategy, business plan developments, incubation, contractual advice, networking with investors through forums, help with formation of management teams
b. Project management service or training or networking with experts and lastly
c. Help with licensing technologies. Identify legal expertise, advice and administrative support.
 
The project will be carried out in four main parts, the first consists of the first three project activities: a needs analysis, gaps assessment/current activity ID and the development and of a detailed implementation plan which are conducted in each country to ensure that all partners are given an opportunity to adopt the TTO project for local conditions taking into account initiatives and legislations. During the second part, a pilot TTO is established in Namibia at the NBIC and lessons learned are shared. During the third part the pilot TTO will be replicated in the other countries, by either establishing TTOs there or improving existing ones to become fully functional. The fourth part comprises activities that secure the continuation and sustainability of the project as well as the project evaluation and the implementation plan for the next phase (5 year plan). Capacity building is a continuous process during the entire project.
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