For further development of the country’s economy, scientists have been tasked to focus more on technological research and inventions that will provide solutions to everyday challenges.
This charge was given by Professor of Molecular Biotechnology at the Department of Biochemistry, Delta State University, Abraka, Nyerhovwo Tonukari, who spoke at the 2nd International Conference of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Ajayi Crowther University (ACU), Oyo on Monday.
Prof Tonukari while speaking on the “Scientific Research for Wealth Creation and National Economic Development” noted that the creation of 1,000 scientific entrepreneurs every year will give a huge boost to the Nigerian economy.
While stating that Nigerians are good and intelligent in science, he noted that “we are very poor in transforming the science into tangible products that can be sold successfully in local and international markets.”
He warned that the country’s survival is at stake if “we do not incorporate economics into our core strategic interests,” adding that the country does not have the luxury of investing more than 90% of time and resources on research that has no economic benefits.
“Scientists need to be bold and decisive, as well as be entrepreneurial in thinking in order to thrive. Let us provide a prosperous future for Nigeria by transferring innovative research and technology from our universities and research centres into the economy.
“The need to take action is more urgent because it is now very glaring that both public and private universities cannot pay some of us the real wage that we deserve. Let us as Nigerian scientists form an alliance that will submit a white paper to the Federal Government and leading Nigerian companies to fund 1000 start-ups from universities and research institutes annually.
“This can be done by setting up a competitive fund for commercialization of proven products or processes from our research that is of societal interest.
“The entrepreneurship must be based on research output and driven by university lecturers and researchers from institutes. This will be a direct challenge for us lecturers to come up with profitable creative ideas. Both the government and the private sector consortium will hold some equity in the start-up.
“Creating 1,000 scientific entrepreneurs every year will give a huge boost to the Nigerian economy. If we sustain such funding annually, it will drive commercial growth all over the country, leading to the establishment of factories and the production of machines, as well as the generation of hundreds of thousands of high-level jobs.
“We must connect our ideas and intuition with others. We need each other; we need to collaborate more than ever before. NUC, the Nigerian Academy of Science and other science-related associations should mount a concerted campaign encouraging collaboration across faculties, universities and also with companies.
“In order to stimulate competition, NUC or Committee of Vice-Chancellors should organise an annual national trade fair for scientists to exhibit some of their commercial products or patents. Productive scientists will get to meet their peers and establish new collaborations and start-ups. A listing or review of early-stage technology businesses based on universities’ research should also be published annually,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, the ACU Vice-Chancellor, Prof Timothy Adebayo, also charged researchers in the country to not only publish papers for promotion but also publish papers that will develop the nation’s economy.
He further charged them to make their solutions-focused findings available to industries for the benefit of the economy.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Local Organizing Committee of the conference and Ag. Dean of Student Affairs, Dr Roland Isibor, said the conference will address research endeavours to improve sustainable development in the world while fostering international collaboration for capacity building in scientific research.
He added that the increased attention to sustainable development is an opportunity for Nigeria given the numerous research challenges it has had to face recently.
Speaking on the theme of the 3-day conference: “Achieving Sustainable Development through Scientific Interventions”, the host and Dean, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Prof Ebenezer Olayinka, said rapid advances in science can best be achieved with an integrated, cross-sectoral and engaging scientific agenda that connects upstream fundamental research with solution-oriented research.
This was buttressed by the Conference Chairperson, Dr A.A. Olanbiwoninu, who said: “As producers of knowledge and facilitators of learning at various institutions, we owe ourselves the duty of reminding one another of the relevance of expanding the frontiers of knowledge and sustaining our commitment to providing scientific solutions to human and environmental challenges.”