The beneficiaries of the Innovations for African Universities (IAU), a project that seeks to promote entrepreneurship skills among university students, have been encouraged to leverage expertise and resources made available to them to create solutions and better the lives of Ghanaians.
The IAU, which started about two years ago at the University of Ghana, aims at building the capacity of students to enable them to develop successful businesses.
The project, implemented by the Office of Research, Innovation and Development of the University of Ghana, in partnership with Impact Hub Accra, and Imperial College London, is supported by the British Council.
Speaking at the close out of Phase Two of the project and the opening of the Third Phase in Accra, Professor Felix Ankomah Asante, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Development, University of Ghana, lauded the impact of the project on participants and society.
He said, over the past few months, there had been significant progress in the entrepreneurship landscape, adding that, the gap between universities and industry had been bridged, research and development promoted and a platform for innovation and entrepreneurship also created.
“Through the Innovations for African Universities Programme, we have been able to build a community of innovators and entrepreneurs who are transforming the African education landscape,” he said.
The Phase Two of the project, which ended in July 2022, saw some twenty-eight teams, comprising almost 100 students, participate.
They were, among others, mentored on how to sustain their businesses.
Prof Asante said there had been remarkable success stories from participants, who had leveraged the knowledge and resources gained from the programme to create sustainable solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing challenges.
“I would like to take this opportunity to urge all of our participants to continue to be ambassadors of innovation and change in their respective communities. Let us continue to leverage on our expertise and resources to create solutions that will transform Ghana and Africa and improve lives f millions worldwide,” he said.
Professor Asante said, as part of efforts to foster collaboration between universities, industry and government to drive innovation and create sustainable solutions to Africa’s most pressing challenges, the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and the Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), had been accepted to participate in the Third Phase of the project.
He urged participants to remain committed to the cause by continuously leveraging the knowledge and resources gained from the programme to drive innovation, create new business models and promote research and development.
Dr Keren Naa Abeka Arthur, Director, Design Thinking and Innovation Hub, UCC, said the decision to bring on board implementing partners from other institutions was a step in the right direction because it created an opportunity to share the lessons learnt from the tested model for impact.
“We, at the University of Cape Coast, through our Design Thinking and Innovation Hub, have also experimented with various models for unlocking student creativity, incubating innovative ideas, providing career development opportunities and harnessing inventions and creative research outcomes for commercialisation.
“Therefore, we see this partnership as an opportunity for us to co-create entrepreneurship support systems that take into account the unique characteristics of public universities and the Ghanaian society,” she said in a speech read on her behalf by Mr Mark Akoto-Senaman, Business Development Officer, Design Thinking and Innovation Hub, UCC.
Mr Kelechi Ofoegbu, Co-founder, Impact Hub Accra, said the ability to scale up the project in the Third Phase by including other institutions was a step in the right direction.
“The idea to scale up beyond our learnings today is something that we will continue to do. From the impact of Accra perspective, we are always on standby to be part of the ongoing process,” he added.
Madam Akorfa Dawson, Higher Education Project Manager, British Council, commended implementers of the project for expanding to other universities while assuring them of a continuous support from the Council to ensure that businesses that emerged from the project were sustained.