Wednesday 16 October

Plenary 1 – Future forward: taking charge of change 

Professor Stephen J Toope

I love you, you’re perfect, now change: the new relationship between universities and the world they serve

From Buddha to Broadway, just about everybody has warned us against changing to please someone else for the sake of the relationship. It never ends well.

Universities are facing a time of extraordinary evolution, driven by the disruptive forces of globalism, technology, and economic upheaval, as well as unprecedented student mobility, a radically altered work world, a shifting funding landscape, and the speed and necessity of constant innovation.

Expectations run high with all of our stakeholders – from funders and governors to the communities we serve – that we will improve literacy, save the economy, drive innovation, train the next workforce, reverse climate change, cure cancer, and make the world safe for democracy. Each stakeholder exerts its considerable influence in an attempt to direct our activities and, for a couple of decades now, we have been responding to every call.

Our core mission has become obscured. Universities need to change in many ways now to remain relevant, viable, and meaningful. But we need to do so in a way that protects and preserves the qualities that have made us so valuable to human progress over the centuries: freedom of inquiry, the preservation and advancement of knowledge, service to and leadership in our communities, and a commitment to the long view.

It is by remaining true to our historical commitments that we will make our greatest contribution in the 21st century.

Professor Dinesh Singh

Dealing with change

History teaches us that all cultures and civilisations have had to deal with and be affected by change, either due to the force of their circumstances and possibly due to the presence or lack of foresight.

The import of this statement is even more compelling in today’s global environment; all spheres of human endeavour are likely to be deeply affected. The pivot that shall help steer the course of history in such a rapidly changing world is most likely to have its underpinnings in the way societies shape up to the need for creating systems of education.

This address shall attempt to define ways and means of dealing with this expected change.

Professor Dinesh Singh is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delhi, India; Director of the Mathematical Sciences Foundation, Delhi; and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Mathematics, University of Houston, USA. He is a member of various committees of the Government of India and of international agencies for furthering research and academic activities.

Professor Singh obtained his BSc and MSc in Mathematics from St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and his MPhil from the University of Delhi. He obtained his PhD from Imperial College London, UK. He has published numerous research papers in international and national journals and his research work has been cited in books and articles.

Dr Theuns Eloff

The emerging university market: prepared to take on the BHAGs?

The higher education market is an expanding market continuously in need to account for its fitness of purpose to optimise and maintain its relevance and responsiveness. It is a market in which the survival of only the fittest will prevail.

Jim Collins and Jerry Porras coined the term Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) to refer to the boldness needed to be prepared to change the nature of a business’ existence in order to attain business goals. BHAGs are meant to shift business, to change the way in which the environment looks at business. It also implies a possible shift in the very business itself. They require a constant sense of out-of-the-comfort-zone view and a ruthless corporate commitment.

In taking charge of change in higher education, the industry needs boldness to face the brutal facts. Amongst others, fundamental changes in higher education management models, the role of information technology in teaching-learning, the growing openness of communication and access in the scholarly community all lead to a radical revisioning of the future of universities.

Preserving the core of higher education business and optimising the relevance thereof within an ever-changing and increasingly complex environment lies at the heart of the future.

This paper aims to consider the implications of the sector’s most pressing challenges against the framework of professionalism, innovation and sustainability as key drivers for the future of higher education.

Plenary 2 – Governance and leadership

Dr Mohamed ‘Mo’ Ibrahim

Why governance matters

1. Africa – a rich continent but poor people
2. Leadership deficit and underdevelopment
3. Rise of the civil society
4. Governance and institutions
5. Youth and the future of Africa

Professor Cheryl de la Rey

Bridging dualisms in contexts of rapid change: a challenge for vice-chancellors

Universities in South Africa, like in many other parts of the world, are dealing with multiple expectations, fiercer competition, and rising costs. There is growing pressure to expand access, yet resources are declining in real terms.

In such contexts it is often said that what is required is good leadership and greater accountability. By examining the changing context of South African universities, this presentation outlines the key challenges facing university leaders and governance structures. The impact of changing regulations on the traditional bicameral system, comprising a senate and a council, by which South African universities are governed are considered.

This paper suggests that the main challenge for vice-chancellors is to steer a path through contradictions and ambivalences. Models of leadership and management relevant to balancing contradictions and bridging dualisms are then outlined.

Professor Atta-ur-Rahman

Universities of tomorrow: agents of change

Rapid advances in scientific research have created an amazing situation where truth has become far stranger than fiction. In this environment of innovation and entrepreneurship, our universities have a critically important role to play to produce leaders of tomorrow with the ability to understand and use these discoveries for the public good.

Students emerging from these institutions should be job providers, not job seekers. For this to occur, the universities must themselves undergo deep-seated reforms, and establish centres of excellence and science parks, as well as build stronger and sustainable linkages with industry.

Spectacular progress has been achieved in Pakistan during the last decade. There has been an 800% increase in internationally abstracted scientific publications from 2000-2010 and a 1000% increase in citations in the Science Citation Index. The number of university students quadrupled from 276,000 to 1.1 million, and the number of universities grew from 57 to 137.

A nationwide digital library provides free access to 20,000 international journals and 60,000 books from 220 international publishers to every student in every public sector university. Video-conferencing facilities are allowing courses to be delivered by highly qualified faculty from the West, meeting a critical shortage of qualified faculty. Over USD 1 billion has been spent in awarding 11,000 scholarships to students at PhD level.

Plenary 3 – The international student: the next phase 

Dr Christopher Hill

The international student: the next phase of higher education?

As the ‘international’ begins to dominate university agendas, how best can we move beyond mobility to integration? The increasingly global nature of education requires that universities address issues such as curriculum development, the student experience, and the nature of the global citizen to ensure that students both develop during their studies and can articulate these experiences upon graduation.

How can institutions encourage student movement and integration? To what extent are institutions responsible for supporting the development of global values? Should their role be in defining or defending these values? Is higher education internationalising or becoming internationalised?

As global patterns of education shift, questions of access and mobility become central and the necessity to better understand the value of education, its reach, impact and legacy upon development become paramount.

Professor Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak

International student mobility: the next phase

Student mobility across the globe is no longer a new phenomenon, given that most universities are now embracing the international agenda as part of the student learning experience. Many governments are in fact encouraging the setting up of long- and short-term mobility programmes by providing various support mechanisms, including funding.

However, the progress and outcomes of student mobility internationally are not without criticism, mainly regarding the apparent imbalance in the implementation of the mobility programmes across regions. There are far too many students moving from the global South to the North or from the East to the West, and even then English-speaking countries are the most popular. Students from these countries seem reluctant to venture to non-English-speaking countries – hence skewing even further the progress and outcomes of student mobility.

In order to redress such gaps, the next phase of student mobility must focus more strategically on providing greater opportunities from immersion, not only confined to participating in the academic-economic setting of the participating countries but equally that of socio-cultural diversity. The preoccupation of student mobility to date seems to have missed the broader dimensions of values in the context of the local culture that can help bridge an even deeper understanding among communities of the world in our quest for knowledge.

Thursday 17 October

Plenary 4 – Civil society and social engagement

Professor Prabhu Guptara

Universities, civil society and social engagement

It could be argued that universities have increasingly given up on being ivory tower institutions in order to wrestle with contemporary pressures from the marketplace, government and budgets.

However, in their quest for bigger and more luxurious buildings, fatter salaries, plusher facilities, and increasingly esoteric peer-reviewed publications, have universities strayed too far from their mission?

What is their mission in the 21st century, anyway? And what, within that broad mission, is the specific mission of each particular university? Without clarity on this, all effort is futile.

As a contribution to the debate on these seminal matters, this paper argues that there are already too many universities in the world, and that they need to slim down, focus on what they do best (with ‘necessary amplitude’), and relate that to the most crucial issues today.

Professor Janice Reid

Universities without walls: engaging our world

In the higher education sector around the globe, a quiet revolution is taking place. Over the last two decades, the engagement of many universities within their cities and regions, both as partners and as catalysts in economic and social development, has become a hallmark of their missions.

Many have embraced a commitment to service to the wider community by both staff and students and benefited from the satisfactions and lessons of contributing to transformative programmes and projects. Others have joined or led multi-agency partnerships of urban renewal, economic development, and cultural enrichment.

University engagement has been finding its place in the sun, albeit overshadowed to some extent by the well-established rewards and recognition of research and the time-hungry demands of classroom teaching and online instruction.

However, the formation of international networks of engaged universities and the extensive body of publications on engagement initiatives reflects a growing level of visibility, credibility, and commitment.

The scholarship of engagement, combined with efforts to codify, evaluate, and recognise the achievements of staff and students is palpably gaining ground, legitimacy, and acknowledgement. These developments speak to the value and significance of universities in our times engaging purposefully with the communities on whose generosity and goodwill they depend and which, in turn, look to them for knowledge, understanding, collaboration, and action.

Professor David Ford

How might universities best engage with the religions?

Universities and religious communities have many shared interests as key players in civil society, but also potential for tension and conflict. How universities relate to the four to five billion of the world’s population who are directly involved with the major religions is vital for the future shaping of our world.

The first essential is for universities themselves, as leading players in civil society, to be models of best practice in dealing with the religions. This has three main interrelated requirements: to recognise the importance of ‘academically-mediated religion’, to be ‘religiously literate’ as institutions, and to take seriously intelligently religious contributions to the shaping of a university’s policy, strategy, values, ethics, and ethos.

The second essential is to fulfil responsibilities to the rest of society, regionally, nationally and internationally, including improving the quality of education and understanding within and between the religious communities; raising the level of general religious literacy in society; and participating in ‘stabilising’, peacemaking and peacebuilding in the many situations of conflict where religion is a factor.

There are some encouraging signs on all these points, with examples from Europe, North America, and China, but overall universities have hardly begun to fulfil their responsibilities in this area.

Parallel Discussion Sessions

Civil society and social development

Alida van Dyk and Cuzette du Plessis

The ‘engagement trap’: moving beyond water treading, gimmicks and window dressing towards ethical, sustainable, community engagement practices in higher education

Can the efforts of ‘good’ people with good intentions who are trying to change things for the better actually lead to progress in higher education? The euphoria of a new democratic dispensation in South Africa is long gone, yet it sparked various transformational processes for reform in the higher education landscape. But has anything changed?

Scholarly engagement requires a specific mindset in the contexts where universities attempt to translate their visions and strategic plans into meaningful practices. The development of scholarly engagement practices comprises a complex process of changing an institutional culture, where we move away from the idea that research, teaching and learning, and community engagement are the three pillars of education. Pillars are fixed linear structures in people’s minds and the image does not lend itself to describing the symbiotic relationship that exists between these processes. Institutionalising engagement as a scholarship in South Africa often entails crossing the threshold of a sceptical academic culture where the traditional ethos of research has for decades brought institutions prestige and academic credibility.

This paper will reflect on the complexity of institutionalising community engagement in the context of an under-resourced rural and urban African university.

Ger Graus

With a little help from higher education: a university for children

Ger will be talking about Children’s University and how the work of the organisation contributes to confident communities and social mobility. His talk will include measurement: the University of Cambridge and the development of students. 

Employability and economic growth

Professor Andrew Downes

The university and economic growth in a developing region: the case of the University of the West Indies

Empirical research on the determinants of economic growth points to the significant role which institutions and human capital formation play in the process.

Universities are important institutions in the development of human capital as they provide top skills which are critical for advancing the production frontier of countries. Universities also engage in ‘knowledge creation’ (research and innovation) which results in the expansion of existing businesses and the creation of new ones through various entrepreneurial activities. As an entity engaging in the buying of goods and services within a community, universities contribute directly to the growth of the economy by virtue of the demands of students, staff, and administrators.

This paper will examine the contribution which one of two regional multinational universities in the world – the University of the West Indies (UWI) – has played in the economic growth of its 15 Caribbean contributing countries. It will look at the effect of the number of graduates on the growth equation over the period 1951-2011 using regression analysis, and the impact of research activities on the production of existing and new goods and services in the Caribbean region.

The paper will conclude by identifying the main factors which have contributed to UWI’s role in the economic growth of the Caribbean region and making recommendations for enhancing this role.

Professor John Hay

The regional impact of a global university

The University of Hull is a global university but with a strategic aim to act as an ‘anchor institution’ within its geographical region. This region includes a relatively economically deprived port city surrounded by a wealthier agricultural hinterland. An engaged university can make a crucial contribution to wealth creation and regeneration on a local level whilst also operating in a global context.

This talk will discuss the approaches to achieving this. A key to regeneration is the incubation of new businesses, and a university can provide the environment and access to knowledge to facilitate this. Central to this is the fostering of an entrepreneurial mindset, tapping into the experiences of local entrepreneurs and encouraging entrepreneurship at all levels, from interaction with schools, through student entrepreneurship to experienced individuals.

Strong regional engagement is crucial, whether it be with local businesses, regional government, or local enterprise partnerships. A university can act as an ‘honest broker’, helping to coordinate activity across sometimes competing organisations. These types of activity feed back into the core activities of the university, providing opportunities for research collaboration, new ideas for teaching, stimulating a broader outlook amongst staff and students, and creating wealth for both the university and the region.

Governance and leadership 

Professor Kerry Cox

Do ends justify the means?

All organisations have values, either formally settled by the governance group and practised widely, or the random aggregation of the values of individual staff over time.

The former approach is far superior to any other approach, as it provides a standard for the organisation’s ethical stance, and is a helpful guide for the leaders and staff across the organisation in their decision-making process.

But often strategic goals and a desire for particular outcomes have the potential to override a pursuit of the declared values of the organisation. In these instances, the values that are practised show a serious dissidence with the values that are declared and are anything but ethical.

Universities have an important role in the broader community in promoting and being exemplars of the importance of strong ethical values and behaviours. This presentation will focus on the stance of Edith Cowan University (ECU), Australia, on ‘values’, on how the ECU values have been embedded across the university, and how teachers and researchers alike are contributing to the wellbeing of their communities through fair dealing.

Professor Arun Diwaker Nath Bajpai

Creating expanded human beings in the portals of universities

Higher education institutions deal with most enlightened young minds who are supposed to take up leadership roles in myriad opportunities awaiting them in the future. Therefore, preparing this youth with a balanced outlook is the biggest challenge for educators.

It is only through a proper synergy between mind, spirit and intellect that universities and higher education institutions can help transform students into expanded beings who use intellect with intuition and empathy for their fellow human beings.

In this process, young aspiring minds require exposure to inculcate the right values to face conflicting attitudes and beliefs at a personal level, at the level of immediate society, and at the global level with an unflinching commitment in every small task which comes their way, regardless of the narrow domains of personal benefits alone.

Flowering of the kingdom of spirit of young minds with truth, ahimsa, empathy, and a balanced intellectual breadth is the prime role of educators who alone can bring hope in this fiercely competitive environment. Addressing such concerns is the need of the hour.

Professor Sir David Watson

Universities and the challenge of change

David Watson will begin within an assessment of the current state of discourse about higher education in a global context. In particular, he will explore ideas about the causes and consequences of perceived and predicted change. He will then offer a longer view, based on the history of university foundations, the claims made for what they do to and for students, and how these have varied over time. He will conclude with observations about the challenges to leadership, management, teaching and research in contemporary universities, as well as their prospects for survival and prosperity.

Universities and the innovation cycle

Professor Domwini Dabire Kuupole

African universities’ contribution to innovation drive: an indispensable requisite for economic transformation

This session will highlight the channels through which African universities have to refocus in order to strengthen their role as key players in the quest for transforming their economies through innovation. Central to this discourse is for universities in Africa to realise that there is a fine distinction between advancing academic knowledge and 1) translating the knowledge into practice, and 2) using the knowledge to achieve economic transformation at all levels.

To take this initiative forward, African universities with well-established structures are to create a niche for themselves in terms of innovative-based research. This means there should be a conscious declaration of how the university wants to be identified. However, it is imperative not to confuse the need for a niche with a university’s original mandate.

Upon realising the niche based on comparative advantage and human capacity, there is the need for financial investment to concretise the university’s position within its country and sub-region. While it is important to internally raise funding, the ability to find external sources of funds will be dependent on the university’s identified niche originality, the institution’s credibility, and whether it is consistent with national and global issues of concern.

The third point is to sustain the relevance of the niche through a number of channels, notably protecting the intellectual property of the university.

Professor Roy Crawford

New Zealand’s universities – driving innovation and the nation’s development

New Zealand’s eight universities are at the heart of the nation’s research and development. Our universities dominate the basic research segment, which is the foundation for applied and experimental research many years down the track. Much of this research has a strong international focus, with widespread global research collaborations and partnerships with other universities and research providers.

Universities also work with industry to foster a creative and dynamic environment to develop new solutions to existing and anticipated challenges in a range of sectors, from agriculture to telecommunications. Connecting universities and industry to form research/business relationships needs to be an ongoing effort to ensure we optimise opportunities for innovation. This paper will examine some examples of real successes in research commercialisation that demonstrate the world-leading research being undertaken by New Zealand’s universities.

Universities New Zealand believes that the universities could make an even bigger contribution to the innovation cycle if there was a change to the research funding, and research models, in New Zealand. There are many aspects of our research sector that are working well, but for universities to contribute more to the innovation cycle, increased investment from both the government and the private sector is essential, as is a review of the research funding models that are currently in place.

Professor Ranbir Chander Sobti

Role of universities in innovation cycle: cultivating new technologies and innovation ecosystems and encouraging universities to serve as an ‘Intellectual Growth Hub’

Universities are a great hub for nurturing and strengthening intellectual capital in society. The faculties and their researchers are a source of creation of knowledge and technology transfer. As universities embrace new changes and engage with today’s challenges (sustainable agriculture, healthy environment, clean energy), innovation has to be the single most important driving force in education.

The ultimate challenge for a university is to develop new knowledge, translate, and distribute it, aiming at the stakeholders’ interests. Commercialising university research is important because it provides a return on public investment in research, and also ensures that new and promising ideas are not confined to university laboratories. Innovation justifies new research allocations creating tangible outputs from public investments. For the knowledge economy, universities need to equip the next generation with up-to-date information and make them conversant with real market situations.

There are plenty of examples where industry and universities work fairly comfortably together (Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Silicon Valley, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)). The challenge is to bridge the gap between these two worlds and make the innovation cycle move better and faster. For universities to be a part of the innovation cycle, they need to be open and flexible – as the two worlds are very different, a common ground must be established where both can interact.

The future of research

Karrine Sanders and Diana Coates

Getting sub-Saharan African university research into use by policymakers and practitioners: research uptake management; a new university research management specialisation

More familiar terms than ‘research uptake management’ (RUM) might be ‘knowledge mobilisation’ (KM) and ‘knowledge exchange’ (KE), but, whatever term is used, getting research evidence taken up for use and having an impact is becoming a normal funding requirement and consequently an area of strategic importance to universities and research institutes.

This paper will outline the progress to date of the five-year UK aid-funded Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) programme. The programme works directly with 24 universities to provide organisational change support, postgraduate level training, and online learning resources, and with key research uptake management networks in the sub-Saharan African region and worldwide.

DRUSSA’s aim is to mainstream the converging discourses about research uptake being a way to produce scientific evidence with, and for, a range of university stakeholders, among these policy-influencing and policymaking entities. A recent additional activity that strengthens DRUSSA’s work is a small study to establish how the linkages between supply-side (universities) and demand-side (government ministries and departments) can be strengthened.

RUM is a strategic, complex, cross-functional process, requiring an aligned approach and a range of high-level expertise that should be provided by the institution to support their researchers’ capacity to deliver research evidence in formats and on platforms that are appropriate for technical and lay audiences.

Ann Weston, Prisca Mbura Kamungi, and Dr Chidozie Emmanuel Mbada

The future of research: supporting early career researchers

Ann Weston will lead the panel with an overview of the International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC) approach to capacity building through its International Fellowships Program (IFP). The programme was launched in 2007 with awards to Master’s and doctoral students based at universities in sub-Saharan Africa and later expanded to South and Southeast Asia and most recently South America.

In addition to field research awards, sometimes full scholarships, training workshops and support to mentors, the IFP has involved postdocs, visiting fellowships and internships. The IFP’s awards for individuals complement IDRC’s funding for research projects in four thematic areas: agriculture and environment, global health policy, science and innovation, and social and economic policy. There are a number of Master’s and doctoral students embedded in these projects. For example, the substantial Canadian International Food Security Research Fund involves about 200 students, of whom 130 are outside Canada.

Prisca Mbura Kamungi, a current IDRC doctoral awardee in the field of security studies, and Chidozie Mbada, a former IDRC health doctoral awardee and now university lecturer, will comment on their experience with IDRC awards. They will also provide views on future directions for capacity building and research funding in their specific regions and thematic areas.

Ann Weston will facilitate a discussion about emerging issues with the audience which is expected to include staff of developing country universities currently studying for their doctorates in the UK.

Plenary 5 – Future of international research: getting the relationships right

Dr Val Snewin and Hannah Akuffo

Capacity building in African institutions 

International research funders have been engaged in supporting universities and institutions in their capacity strengthening efforts for a considerable time. This paper will focus on two specific funding agencies, the Wellcome Trust and the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

The research capacity building initiatives of the Wellcome Trust have a particular focus on the institutional research environment and the research career pathway in African institutions. These include the African Institutions Initiative, which aims to develop institutional capacity to support and conduct health-related research by strengthening Africa's universities and research institutions, and the Health Research Capacity strengthening initiative which is a partnership with the UK Department for International Development whose aim is to strengthen the capacity for generating new health research knowledge within Kenya and Malawi and to improve its use in evidence-based decision making, policy formulation, and implementation.

Sida, on behalf of the Swedish Government, recognises that research is linked to development and thus must be part of development cooperation. Since 1975, Sida has engaged with institutions on a long-term basis, focusing on weak institutions and engaging Swedish partners in ‘sandwich’ capacity building modalities. In addition, in its support to such institutions as Makerere University in Uganda and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, Sida support developing of fundamental building blocks beyond research projects.

Dr David Rampersad

Pitfalls in the management of research partnerships: a developing country perspective

With the increase in research partnerships, especially those among universities and research institutions in developing and developed countries, their management is critical in ensuring successful outcomes. This is particularly important when such partnerships are funded by major external funders.

This paper will use the example of internationally-funded projects managed by the University of the West Indies and involving partners in a variety of countries to analyse why some partnerships are successful while others are less so. It will identify and discuss some of the major issues that can lead to difficulties, including difficulties that the lead partner must confront, and even to unsuccessful project implementation.

The paper will emphasise some of the significant factors that ought to be addressed when designing the partnership arrangements and the project implementation system.

Professor Philip Diamond

The Square Kilometre Array: a study in complex international collaboration

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the largest scientific instrument on Earth, both as a physical entity and in terms of data volumes. No other scientific facility will enable humanity to probe the fundamental nature of both gravity and magnetism, two of the four fundamental forces, as well as the origins of life. The SKA will be the only instrument able to trace the history of hydrogen, the most common element in the universe, yielding unique insights into our evolving cosmos.

The SKA Organisation (SKAO), a not-for-profit company formed by 11 member nations and headquartered in a new office at Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK, is designing the telescope. Six of the current SKAO members are Commonwealth nations: Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK; the other members are China, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. The SKA telescope will be constructed in both Australia and South Africa. This mix of nations and the special locations for the telescopes make the SKA unique amongst major scientific projects.

This paper will outline the challenges and excitement associated with creating a new international organisation, coordinating a EUR 120 million distributed design effort and planning for the construction of what will ultimately be a multibillion euro science facility. It will explore the dynamics of working with a board and a technical collaboration from a diverse range of cultures.

Plenary 6 – Universities and the innovation cycle

Dr Srikumar Banerjee

The diversity of innovation objectives in Indian universities

University education in India can make the growing number of youth an economic force to catalyse growth in every segment of human development. With its multiplier effect, education has a major role on economics, technological advances, health and hygiene, and social justice.

A university can place emphasis on objectives such as inclusive growth, providing holistic education, enabling cutting-edge technology development for global competitiveness, or nurturing the culture and language of a given region, based on the environment in which it operates.

The diverse roles played by universities will be outlined and compared in this paper, using some examples. Visva-Bharati, the oldest central university in the country, stresses holistic education to create human beings living in harmony with nature. In contrast, the recently established Central University of Kashmir focuses on training its large youth population as agents for economic growth and social transformation. The oldest and largest Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur focuses on innovations which will have far-reaching impact on areas including transportation, communications, healthcare, and agriculture. One of the youngest research universities, Homi Bhabha National Institution, a virtual university, aims to bring scientists working on mission-oriented research and those working on curiosity-driven research under a single academic umbrella for a synergistic broadening of perspectives.

A key innovation in India has been to augment the physical infrastructure by establishing connectivity of institutes of higher learning through a National Knowledge Network.

The Rt Hon Professor Silas Lwakabamba

Universities and the innovation cycle: three cases from Rwanda

The innovation cycle involves an idea for a potential technology, discovering something novel, and completing a product which is then manufactured, marketed and sold. Universities provide the opportunities based on the knowledge they generate. This paper will examine three innovations in universities in Rwanda.

The National University of Rwanda (NUR) started a project in 1999 to improve Rwanda’s potential exports in agriculture. The project identified Rwanda’s Arabica coffee as suitable for high-quality coffee production, and an innovation to improve its quality was introduced. As a result, Rwandan coffee is marketed by prominent roasters and importers, Rwandan farmers have significantly increased their earnings, and more than 5,000 jobs have been created.

In 2001, the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology introduced an innovation of installing large-scale biogas plants in prisons which are used to treat toilet wastes and generate biogas for cooking. The bio-effluent is used as fertiliser for crops and trees. They are now in all 14 prisons and are being extended to schools.

Research by staff of the NUR showed an overwhelming negative impact of plastic bags on the environment. Scattered plastic bags affected agriculture by preventing water penetration into the soil, they clogged drainage systems and led to floods, and burning them caused toxic fumes causing respiratory diseases. This resulted in the Government of Rwanda banning plastic bags, a policy which has witnessed positive impacts.

Professor Teck Seng Low

Capabilities and collaborations - driving growth through research and innovation

For countries seeking to transition to a knowledge-based innovation driven economy, public investment in research and development has emerged as a key component of economic strategy. In Singapore, the government committed SGD 16.1 billion over a five-year period from 2011 to boost research, innovation, and enterprise as part of the country’s long-term plan to be a research-intensive, innovative and entrepreneurial economy.

Supported by steady public investment, Singapore has built up a significant base of research and development capabilities. Our universities have developed into internationally-competitive research-intensive universities, with peaks of excellence in water, biomedical sciences, and energy.

Looking ahead, efforts to leverage research and development to drive economic growth and renewal will come up against two challenges. The first is one of talent, which is the backbone of a robust research system. Enlarging our talent pool – nurturing and grooming our next generation of scientific leaders for our corporate research labs, research institutions, and high technology companies – will continue to be a priority, as well as a challenge given Singapore’s small size.

The second pertains to industry-science linkages. The strength of an innovation ecosystem, and whether discoveries are translated into useful applications and economic opportunities, depends on whether scientists, engineers, innovators, and entrepreneurs are all joined up and enjoy strong interactions and collaborations.

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