Academics who lead innovation projects at the University of Rwanda convened in a training workshop aimed to equip them with skills on ways to forge new research and innovation partners in order to give value and enrich their innovation projects. In collaboration with Södertörn University of Sweden, the training was organized by the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in line with its role to complement to the University mandate to produce skilled and versatile graduates who can do research that leads to innovation with entrepreneurship and job creation mindset.
UR academics with their counterpart from Södertörn University-Sweden
In his remarks, the Innovation Centre Director Dr Emile Bienvenu noted that participants were able to acquire new ways to build collaboration with university partners to boost innovation. According to him, the bottom line about innovation is to respond to people’s needs and improve their wellbeing. He therefore called for connecting breakthrough innovation to the intended audience and community in large.
Dr Bienvenu sharing his thoughts during the workshop
“An innovation that doesn’t solve community problems or alleviate the way people do things is null and void,”said Bienvenu, adding that innovation only makes a significant impact if there is consultation and studies to find out people’s need.
Among the training facilitators was Dr Tomas Kjellqvist, a long serving researcher with vast experience in research collaboration especially in working with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). He closely works with the UR Inovation Centre and noted that one of the Centre’s mission is to get the research into use in Rwandan society.
Dr Kjellqvist ( right) and other training participants
“We are now trying to get some projects out of the university which can serve the Rwandan society” Kjellqvist said.
Dr innocent Ndahiriwe is one of the innovation project leaders who attended the workshop. He is working on his innovation project “Innovation through bee farming, the way forward for poverty reduction in Rwanda” under the support of UR-Sweden Programme for Research Higher Education and Institutional advancement. Ndahiriwe formed two cooperatives in two different districts of the country and membership majority is the university graduates. He believes in his project to translate knowledge and theoretical skills into practice to enable graduates be real entrepreneurs.
His advice to graduates is to move away from the mindset that rates cities to be land of opportunities but rather encouraged them that they can thrive by developing projects touching people in rural settlements because of available competitive advantage in terms of market and labor.
In the course of the workshop, innovation team members presented the progress of their projects and showed the way forward about the research that they have set to do. Currently, the Centre counts 15 innovation projects that cover almost any discipline ranging from technology up to social innovations. Innovation projects are expected to forge partnership with various institution and individuals in the society so as to have prototype and better ideas that could make them move forward.
A section of participants in the training
Training participants group photo
By Darius Murangwa