Pro Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Innovation, and Development at the University of Ghana, Prof. Felix Ankomah Asante has emphasized on the need to harvest students’ talents.
He was speaking at the close out of the second phase and launch of third phase of the Innovations for African Universities Kick-OFF Programming on 17th March, 2023 at the University of Ghana Office of Research, Innovation and Development Conference Room. The Innovation for African University is a British Council initiative aimed at strengthening the capacity of universities to participate and provide meaningful contributions as key players within the entrepreneurship ecosystem in their respective regions.
According to Prof. Ankomah, the program was designed to help identify students’ talents and build them up as business models. He emphasized on the need to encourage talented students to harness their skills for their future careers.
“We have noticed as a university that the University of Ghana [has] about 68,000 students; you can just imagine the [amount of] talents on campus. I think it’s high time a tertiary institution like the University of Ghana finds a way of harvesting talent. I even know a medical student who does photography apart from his studies, why don’t we encourage such talents? So, the idea of having this innovation, integration center is to try and identify those with talents, bring them together, build them up as business models, and see how they can build the ecosystem it is very key. Yes, we are indeed educating people with first degrees and second degrees but some of them might not even work with the degree, they might work with their hobby so we need to encourage them. As part of the University and the outfit in which I run Research, Innovation, and Development we are supposed to help identify innovators. And here when you talk about innovators is not only students, we are talking about faculty research also. So, we are looking at students on their own, faculty, and third a combination of faculty-students-led ideas. So, we are targeting these three people on campus.”
Prof. Ankomah went on to reveal that his office is working with various stakeholders to raise funds to support the University Innovation Policy. He stated that the University is deciding to to generate funds internally as the University’s Council has approved the University of Ghana Innovation Policy
“We are fortunate that we have had British Council funding and are partnering with Impact Hub in Accra for the first two phases. We are currently in the third [phase] and the British Council is providing a minimum grant. As a university, we have decided that that is an area we are supporting with our own internally generated funds, and as part of it, the University of Ghana Council has approved the University of Ghana’s innovation policy. And in that policy, stipulates how we are going to identify the talents till we groom them till commercialization. In that policy, we are supposed to raise funds and that is why the innovation fund comes in. So, from now going we are going to work hard with stakeholders and our partners to see how best we can raise funds. Besides that, when the British Council fund for example is exhausted, we can still do some of these things on our own.”
Meanwhile, Speaking to Univernews Senior Research Development Officer of the University of Ghana Maamie Hutchful Nortey indicated all participants will receive mentoring and coaching for their business. She was hopeful that the program will get some results that will be visible across the nation.
“We are anticipating that with this phase, [in] partnership with the University of Cape Coast and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, we are looking at more over maybe 300 students who will start and we will be able to probably train and scale them down to at least get about 50 student businesses and of that, we will narrow down and support I’m sure at least 10 of them very well and we will end up with probably one business that will win the challenge but then all the businesses will receive mentoring and all the students too will be impacted. So, we are looking at a very ripple effect that will cut across the nation. We launched today and we are hoping to be done by July, so in July we will be done with the demo day then the next few months we are going to coach and mentor them so that will end probably around December 2023.”