Science and Technology Parks

WHAT IS A SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PARK?

A science and technology park (STP) is a property based development which facilitates growth of innovation based companies through incubation and spin-off processes. STPS provide quality space, facilities and other value added services with the aim of increasing wealth of its community. An STP is associated and knowledge based institutions as it promotes the culture of innovation and competitiveness. 

ROLES OF STPS

  • Manage the flow of knowledge and technology amongst universities, research and development institutions and markets
  • Promote technology led economic development for the community, region and the nation.
  • Encourage the university research and development through industry partnerships, assisting in the growth of new ventures.
  • Creating a contractual, formal, or operational relationship with one or more science or research institutions of higher education.

CHALLENGES FACED BY AFRICAN COUNTRIES

Most African countries experience a variety of challenges. Unemployment is one of the greatest challenge that results in a high crime rate. The universities produce thousands of graduates every year yet the job market does not accommodate them. Having no capital, graduates are not able to start their own businesses. This pushes them to a life of crime to cater for their needs.

Economic inequality, also termed as lack of equity in resource distribution, leads to the pervasive phenomenon of haves and have-nots. Extreme inequality breeds extreme corruption as the have-nots clamor for space. The haves on the other hand mount walls to keep the have-nots out. This feeds to new forms of crimes as have-nots try to break down the mounted walls to take their claim, forming a rich substrate for crimes.

Wasteful patterns of production by unskilled producers bring to market low quality agriculture products, mechanical engineered products, civil engineered products, medical devices, architectural products and the like. Locally produced poor quality goods force consumers opting to import good quality products from other countries.

This mismatch between resources and opportunities derives from an education system that fails to impart knowledge and skills required by the market. Consequently, graduates are not meeting employer needs hence they become unemployed or underemployed.

Nature itself poses challenges to humans and animals as it contains harmful components or chemicals. High concentration of fluorine in natural waters such as rivers, for example, poses major health risks. Consumption of water from the polluted rivers, may cause fluorosis, a disease that causes browning of teeth, weakening of bones, and even lowered IQ.

Role of Science and Technology Parks in Overcoming Challenges in Sub- Saharan Africa

Some countries have overcome these challenges by implementing science and technology parks. Science and technology parks are founded on the principle of research and innovation. Morocco is one of the countries that have set up science and technology parks. The Moroccan King launched Technopolis Rabat, which held engineering, high-tech colleges, and research development spaces, with the aim of creating 12,000- 15,000 high end jobs by 2016. Several companies have emerged and operating in Technopolis Rabat. The country has also developed other parks in Casablanca and Tangers.

In June 2009, Moroccan Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Investment and Digital Economy launched the Moroccan innovation strategy at the country’s first Innovation Summit. The Summit’s three main thrusts were (a) to develop domestic demand for innovation, (b) to foster public-private linkages, (c) to introduce innovative funding mechanisms. Pushing for the advancement of science and technology has seen Morocco manage to navigate the fallout from the financial crisis relatively well with an average growth of over 4% between 2008 and 2013. The number of scientific articles catalogued in international journals rose since 2006. According to Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science, Moroccan authors had published 1,574 articles catalogued in its 2014 Expanded Science Citation Index. The articles were evenly spread across all fields of natural and social sciences. Physics and chemistry were the most prominent fields of research.

Egypt and Tunisia have also embraced the development of science and technology parks. In Egypt, laying down of technology parks all over Egypt is considered one of the leading priorities in developmental projects for the nation. Establishment of new technological zones is one of the promising projects that creates an ideal working environment and provides many investment opportunities.

Causal associations we can draw from Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia include:

  • STPs create jobs. Emerging companies from the parks offer job opportunities to qualified persons.
  • Availability of jobs leads to reduction of crime. People have a source of income hence no need to result to crime.
  • STPs provide opportunity for equality.  Everyone will showcase ideas and inventions
  • Showcasing ideas contribute to technological development.

BLOOM’S THEORY IN RELATION TO SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PARKS

Bloom et al. (1956), identified three domains of learning as (a) cognitive domain that refers mental skills, (b) affective domain that refers to growth in feelings and emotional areas of attitude and perception of self, and (c) psychomotor skills that incorporate manual and physical skills. The cognitive domain involves knowledge and the development of intellectual skills (Figure 1). Bloom et al. explained that first, one needs to remember and recall or retrieve previous learned information. Second, understanding and the ability to state a problem in one’s own words is also key. Applying is using a concept in a new situation or unprompted use of an abstraction. Analyzing separates material or concepts into component parts so that its organizational structure may be understood. Analyzing distinguishes facts from inferences. Evaluating is making judgments about the value of ideas or materials. Creating builds a structure or pattern from diverse elements. Creating brings parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on developing a new meaning or structure.

Figure 1. Blooms cognitive domain

The current education system in Kenya relies on the student memory which is only the first stage of promoting higher forms of thinking. An example is learning in the universities. The lecturers dictate notes to students but do not follow up to gauge student understanding. Students struggle to understand the concepts. Most students memorize the notes just to pass the exams. The cycle continues as the same students become the lecturers. Students graduating from such schools have to be retrained before they can get employed in the field because they cannot apply knowledge that they didn’t understand.

STPs are designed to facilitate development of human skills. They help to motivate and qualify young people and fresh graduates to prepare them to work in various fields. They help the students attain the highest form of thinking, according to Bloom. They enable them to apply knowledge that they have read and understood. Further, they also enable students to analyze their skills and evaluate their ideas. Ultimately, they help them to create and bring their ideas to life.

IMPACT THAT STPS WILL HAVE IN KENYA

In relation to Kenya, STPs will create jobs for the people. High end jobs such as architecture, engineering, production management, pharmaceutical science, biotechnology, computer science and similar technical jobs will be available. Each person will have an equal opportunity to showcase his or her ideas and inventions which will contribute to technological advancement.

STPs in Kenya, will offer a supportive environment and good equipment for high quality research. For example, regions such as Kisumu will have the necessary equipment for research and production of fish. Kisii will research on growing and production of bananas. Kericho will research and produce better tea leaves. Garissa will research on the production healthier livestock. Dedan Kimathi University will produce quantity and quality coffee, tea and other produce of the slopes of Mt. Kenya.

STPs will aid in the fight against environmental pollution and create solutions to proper waste disposal. Some waste can be converted and used as raw materials for other industries. For example, sulphur generated from industries that produce petroleum byproducts can be converted into compounds such as sulphuric acid, for use in the pulp and paper industry. Instead of becoming an environmental hazard, certain hazardous materials can be reengineered for new applications. Repurposing of old tires is another example of conservation of the environment. Tires can be used to create coffee tables and Masai shoes which are sold on Soko Janja.

Diseases vary from one region to another hence medicine that works for one region may not necessarily be effective for the other. Most of the medicine used in Kenya is produced outside the country which means that sometimes it may not work for some people. STPs will contribute to research, diagnosis of ailments, and treatment of patients. The use of locally done research in the development of medicine for the local people will lead to effective treatment of diseases. State of the art equipment provided by STPs will make research and production of medicine easier. The use of devices such as cyclotrons in the detection and treatment of illnesses such as cancer will be made available and accessible.  People will therefore receive quality and affordable health care leading to low mortality rates. Thus, it will enable them to save on a lot of money that would have been spent on poor health services.

Knowledge at the village level is mostly passed down from one generation to another. More often than not, the people do not understand the significance or the meaning of that knowledge. An example is using animal manure during planting. As expected, plants are supposed to flourish because the manure acts as a fertilizer. Sometimes this may not be the case because plants also require other nutrients and certain conditions, such as the soil’s pH, may affect the growth. A person at the village may not have known this and may end up being frustrated when they don’t get the expected results. STPs will serve as a link between knowledge at the village and university knowledge. They will work hand in hand with the community to improve their quality of life.

Science and technology parks will encourage production of local goods. Since there exists a link STPs and industries commercialization of locally produced goods will be made possible.

In conclusion, science parks are sources of entrepreneurship, talent and economic competitiveness, and are key elements of the infrastructure supporting the growth of today’s global knowledge. By providing a location where the government, universities and private companies cooperate and collaborate, science parks provide an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation. They enhance the development, transfer, and commercialization of technology.

UBRICA’S INVOLVEMENT IN DEVELOPMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PARKS in KENYA

Ubrica will facilitate design, development and implementation of 66 Science and Technology Parks (STPs) for Kenyan universities. We will also provide STP Development and Management Service through our Scientific Real Estate Development Division (SREDD). The Science and Technology Park Development and Management Service will involve setting out the strategy and objectives of the 66 new parks and deciding on the best model for implementation. SREDD will manage many complex processes and diverse relationships. We shall allocate 2 billion Ubricoins to fund design, development, implementation and management of 66 STPs in Kenya.

TRANSLATION and COMMERCIALIZATION of SCIENCE

After having a dialogue with several Universities in Africa for commercialization of science, Ubrica developed a Science and Technology Park Development and Management and Technology Transfer Services Agreement to guide our relationships with Universities.

Ubrica-University Science and Technology Park Management and Technology Transfer Services In this agreement, will provide two services to Universities: (a) science park development and management services; (b) technology transfer or knowledge conversion services.

Ubrica Technology Transfer Office (UTTO) will work with researchers and students in every college to prepare new inventions for the patenting process and potential licensing opportunities.

UTTO’s job will be to create sustained focus on transferring cutting-edge research and innovation to the commercial marketplace, generating revenue and diversifying the economy. The UTTO will have knowledgeable and professional staff with specialized backgrounds. The UTTO staff will work in collaborative teams to create markets, execute patenting and licensing of new ideas, discoveries and innovations, to translate them into the commercial products and services. The UTTO will be responsible for the development, protection, and utilization of intellectual property rights. It will serve as the liaison of cooperative ventures between University and industry.

START UP COMPANIES

UTTO will promote and facilitate business development and entrepreneurship by bringing researchers together with experienced entrepreneurs and investors to form companies for commercializing university technologies. It will create and foster new start-up companies that will create jobs and provide mutually beneficial relationships to advance technological innovations and to bring their services into the marketplace. UTTO will also maintain an electronic database of start-ups based on university technology. The data base will be publicly available through Ubrica website, where people can view and invest directly.

In order to promote quality research in the STPs, UBRICA will offer incentives based on:

  • Accepted proposal by peer- review process
  • Publication of original research in a peer- review journal
  • Presentation of original research in an academic conference
  • Translation original research into prototypes for the market
  • Commercialization of prototypes
  • Use of Ubricoin for financial transactions
  • Buying locally produced products on Soko Janja

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