A new fund to facilitate the transformation of scientific research into viable commercial products has been established in Africa. The African Science, Technology and Innovation Endowment Fund (ASTIF) was launched at the Second Science with Africa conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 23-25.
The conference also established the first-ever African Technology Development and Transfer Network, which aims “to generate economic and social value from research and development outputs, by facilitating technology adaptation and the commercialization of outputs”.
At the conference, delegates focused on how African countries should prioritise science and innovation as a means for accelerating their development agendas. The ASTIF fund was one of the major outcomes of the conference. Acknowledging the lack of adequate financial resources as one of the biggest hindrances to research and development in Africa, participants created the fund, calling on African business communities to get involved. Through supporting individuals as well as research and development centres, the ASTIF fund aims to “bridge the existing gap between researchers and the private sector”, helping bring research outputs to market more efficiently.
The recommendations also prioritised investing in educating women and young people in science and technology, and highlighted the need for reducing the costs involved in registering and commercializing innovation outputs.
The conference has made a request to the Network of African Science Academies to prepare a report on Science and Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Africa by mid-July 2010.
The conference was organised by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) the African Union Commission (AUC), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Nearly five hundred scientists, engineers, technologists, inventors, entrepreneurs and policy makers attended the conference to help contribute towards the recommendations.