- Uganda’s first 11 member National Steering Committee for Research and Innovation has been set up and inaugurated
- Sh10bn has been provided this financial year to operationalise the innovation Fund
- President Yoweri Museveni pledged shs.500bn for the Fund
- Patenting Innovations , job creation and income generation for the youth are key aspects of the Innovation Fund
By MOSES SSERWANGA
The Minister of Science Technology and Innovation, Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye has inaugurated Uganda’s first National Steering Committee for the Research and Innovation program and expressed the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government’s commitment to finance the commercialisation of Uganda’s innovations to create jobs and promote industrialisation.
While, addressing the 11 member committee at the Ministry head office in Kampala, Dr. Tumwesigye stated that president Yoweri Museveni pledged shs.500bn for the Innovation Fund which will be deployed to help Ugandan researchers and innovators to patent and commercialise their products . He said that now that the governance structures for the Innovation Fund have been set up, the committee members Chaired by Prof. Dr.William Bazeyo will kick start their work by putting in place the procedures and criteria which will be followed to select the innovators that will benefit from the resources allocated by the government .
Who is to benefit
“Innovators in both the formal and in formal sectors shall be eligible to access money from the Innovation Fund. Already shs.10bn has been released to operationalise the Fund and the first beneficiaries should come on board by January next year . The Ministry shall send out calls in the national and regional media, websites and social media for innovators and researchers to apply for funds from the Innovation Fund ,” the Minister told the committee members .
On top of the Innovation Fund, Dr. Tumwesigye said that government will set up technology hubs , innovation parks and incubation centres in Municipal councils and Universities across the country -all geared at helping home made innovations mature into commercial products that can be marketed anywhere in the world , create jobs and generate income -while boosting the national economy for Uganda to attain middle income status .
“ Government recognises the role of Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) as fundamental drivers of socio-economic growth and transformation and that’s why the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoSTI) was set up in 2016. The Ministry has developed a National Research and Innovation Program (NRIP) Framework which was approved by Cabinet early this year,” the minister explained..
He said that the main goal of the National Research and Innovation Programme is to promote Research and Development, Technology Incubation and Technology Commercialization activities.
Dr. Tumwesigye , said that the new and first national steering committee for research and innovation is competence-based pool of eleven (11) independent seasoned experts and practitioners, who include at least five women. Each member has an impeccable track record of at least fifteen (15) years of proven continuous excellence in their professional domain.
The Committee Membership is comprised of professionals in the fields of agriculture and allied sciences; computer science, electronics and informatics; energy and minerals; industrial science (engineering and technology); medical science (human and veterinary medicine); natural and environmental science; physical science; social sciences and humanities; and economics, finance, investment and law.
Who are the members :
The members of the committee include , Dr. William Bazeyo (Acting Chairman), Prof. Vinand Nantulya, Dr. Grace Nambatya , Dr. Cyprian Ebong , Mr. David Bikhado Ofungi, Ms. Barbra Mulwana, Prof. Enos Kiremire (has 8 patented innovations to his name), Ms. Jane Okot P’ Bitek Langoya, Ms. Annabella Habinka Ejiri, Mr. Vincent Kedi and Wardah Mummy Rajab- Gyagenda.
The functions of the Committee
Among the key roles of the committee will be to manage the business of the National Research and Innovation Programme in accordance with sound business principles to enable effectiveness, efficiency and transparency; identify the key tracts to benefit from the National Research and Innovation Programme on an annual basis;establish criteria for assessing the eligibility of the Awardees to receive support from the National Research and Innovation Programme.
The Committee will also be responsible for establishing procedures for application for support from the National Research and Innovation Programm,specify the financial limits to be accessed by an awardee, approve and recommend the projects that score highest and deemed most competitive by the Funding Proposal Assessors for funding.
The colourful inauguration ceremony was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Science , Technology and innovation a veteran technocrat , Mr. Obong. O.O David , Under Secretary , Mr. Emmanuel Fredie Mugunga and other Directors and Commissioners at the Ministry .
Mr. Obong explained that the Ministry mandate young as it is ,includes to provide over all policy guidance, support and coordinate the entire chain of for scientific research, development and the whole National Innovation System in Uganda.
Speaking on behalf of the Committee members , Dr. William Bazeyo, who is the acting chairman , thanked the minister for setting up the committee to operationalise the Innovation Fund and expressed the members gratitude- eagerness to serve their country by promoting the growth and commercialisation of Uganda’s innovations. He pledged that the members shall utilise their vast experience and networks to attract more funding for the Fund, support and mentor innovators that will take Uganda to a new and high level in the field of science , technology and innovation.
Dr. Bazyo, who is a renowned researcher and innovator , said through Makerere they have developed a unique tent the first of its kind where doctors and relatives can get in contact with Ebola patients without contracting the deadly decease . He said they have also funded the commercialisation of many innovations including the peddle tap which saves water and is now being exported to Kigali . He called upon Ugandans to embrace the use of technology to improve their livelihoods .
Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation was set up in 2016 on the recommendation of President Yoweri Museveni.
The functions of the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation are as listed below:
Formulation of Policies Plans and Programs pertaining to Science Technology and Innovation; Identification of National Science Technology and Innovation (STI) priorities.
Coordination, Implementation and Evaluation of Science Technology and Innovation Programs. Monitoring the utilization of Science Technology and Innovation by the Public and Private sectors for national development. Enhancement of STI awareness and appreciation for National Development.
Providing technical support for Uganda’s bilateral and multilateral science and technology programs. Supporting public private partnerships in Science Technology and Innovation.