The Accra Technical University (ATU), in collaboration with the Design Thinking Ghana Hub, has won a grant of $ 152,869 to conduct innovative research to solve societal problems in the health sector.
The grant is from the Research and Innovation Systems for Africa (RISA) Fund, financed by UKaid and implemented by Chemonics International Incorporation to conduct a multi-faceted project at the University.
Under the project, 150 students of ATU were selected through a competitive call for applications and trained to develop any prototype medical device in the health sector.
The 10-week training using design thinking analysis would harness the talents of young emerging leaders in health solutions tailored to local needs.
Professor Samuel Nii Odai, the Vice-Chancellor, ATU speaking at the launch of the project in Accra, said the project would adopt a multi-layer approach to equip the trainees to design and deploy health care solutions.
The project, the Vice-Chancellor stressed, would translate existing research into practical commercial healthcare solutions and tools with the acceptability and support of various stakeholders.
Prof Odai said the initiative was part of the Technical Universities Act, 2016 (Act 922), “to provide opportunities for technical and professional skills development, applied research, and publication.”
The Act also mandates the Governing Council of the Technical University to “promote applied research, including provision of technology innovations and solutions to firms and businesses, as part of the research activities of that Technical University.”
To accomplish the Act, Prof Odai said the University launched a 5-year strategic plan in October (2021-2025), which hinged on eight strong pillars, the second of which was “Impact-Oriented Research.”
The Professor promised to execute the project effectively to maximize the gains and promote national development.
He commended the support of donors for the project and hoped to see more of it in the years ahead for other innovative projects.
Mr Gameli Adzaho, the Country Technical Lead, RISA, advised the trainees to take advantage of the opportunity to develop creative health care solutions to increase their chances of employment in the local and international markets.
Mr Adzaho urged the participants to build the necessary skills at the training, adding that “we need to improve research to create commercially viable systems using innovations in the health sector.”
He stated that health was one of the key considerations for sustainable development because the government invests in health facilities to improve health delivery and outcomes.
Mr Gordon Adomdza, Director, Design Thinking Ghana Hub, said the trainees would be divided into three groups, and introduced them to modules of design thinking to help them come up with innovative products to solve societal problems.
He said the trainees would be trained to conduct ethnographic research by understanding the behaviour of respondents on the field to get hands-on experience to develop and proffer solutions to the challenges.
Out of the 526 institutions that applied for the grant, five came from Ghana, including two universities, ATU and the University of Ghana.