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This programme received the UKRI Praxis Auril Team of the Year 2020 Award. The team continues to act as a network for the implementation of SADC-Cambrige collaborative research projects that respond to development needs of Southern Africa and for the championing of knowledge-exchange models that can adequately respond to the development priorities of the region.​

Highlights of the work done in Botswana and in Cambridge are featured here and here, respectively. 


Although six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies in 2018 are African and despite overseas investors rating Africa as the second most attractive continent for foreign investment in 2014, there is little by way of significant local R&D capacity to support future growth. Many governments recognise the importance of developing National Systems of Innovation (NSIs) and appropriate local policies and practices, if that investment and growth is to deliver lasting local prosperity.

Several members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) target academia-industry relationships as an essential aspect of NSIs for not only the efficient identification, protection and application of promising innovations, but also to create the human, social and cultural capital that is central to a successful innovation ecosystem.        

Drawing on a burgeoning relationship with Botswana and Namibia and, via the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, with Mozambique, Cambridge Global Challenges has initiated this programme focussing on strengthening academia-industry relations in these SADC countries.


Workshop in Botswana (19-22 May 2019)

Colleagues from each of the three SADC countries will contribute specific cases of research that, through collaboration with industry, have had or have the potential to be applied for the benefit of local communities. With this focus and the contribution of knowledge/ technology- transfer researchers and practitioners from Cambridge, the workshop will address two main themes: (A) Academia – Industry ecosystems and (B) NSIs for local societal benefit (see further details below).


Exchange programme (16-21 June 2019)

After the workshop, the participants will be eligible to apply for an exchange programme between the participating Universities, to further explore academia-industry relationship practices. Delegates wishing to carry out their exchange at University of Cambridge will receive training delivered by Cambridge Enteprise.


Theme A – University - Industry Innovation Ecosystems

  • (A1) What are the key aspects of enabling R&D, physical capital and human capital (eg: capabilities to handle IP contracts and licensing), for the improvement of the interface between academia and industry in Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique?
  • (A2) The World Bank Group reported in 2017 that a large fraction of firms in developing countries undertaking product and process innovation did not carry out formal innovation through R&D and licensing.  What novel variables – beyond the commonly measured ones (number of patents, licensing contracts and of spin-outs) – should be analysed to inform policy-making that advances academia-industry ecosystems and NSIs?
  • (A3) What are the weaknesses of current approaches and how can they inform the improvement of local knowledge/technology transfer practices and the establishment of innovation ecosystems?
  • (A4) What are the lessons that, considering differences of context, can be translated from other SADC countries? In South Africa, for instance, the Technology Innovation Agency has established Technology Stations – a programme that enables Universities to develop products, processes and services for Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). Moreover, South Africa introduced the Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed Research and Development Act in 2008, for gathering evidence and identify indicators related to IP management and technology transfer for policy making.
  • (A5) What are the lessons that, considering differences of context, can be translated from other ODA-target target countries? It would be interesting to learn from and compliment the DLR/BMBF, ESRC, VR, and H2020-funded project that Frank Tietze co-leads on Intellectual Property Models for Accelerating Sustainability Transitions (IPACST) An Analysis of Sustainable Business Models for Clean Energy and the Circular Economy. Bringing together the fields of sustainability, IP and innovation management, political sciences and engineering, this interdisciplinary research programme investigates (i) which, (ii) how and under (iii) what conditions IP models accelerate sustainable transitions, in connection with sustainable business models in India.
  •  (A6) What are the lessons that, considering differences of context, can be translated from the Cambridge Ecosystem, Europe’s largest technology cluster – with 61,000 people employed by more than 4,700 knowledge-intense firms with a combined annual revenue of over £12.3 billion? "10 years of Cambridge Enterprise, 50 years of Technology Transfer at the University of Cambridge", a publication describing the role of the University of Cambridge as an employer and provider of technology to the Cambridge Ecosystem will be timely published in Spring 2019.

Theme B – NSIs for Local Societal Benefit

  • (B1) The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reported that the African continent submitted the lowest number of patent applications in 2014: although this reflects a low investment in R&D, it also shows an opportunity for the selection of strategies for sharing knowledge that are aligned with national aspirations and values. Since Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique do not have functioning patent filing and enforcement systems, what local knowledge-transfer and practices can incentivise the research-to-innovation value chain to secure the application of endogenous innovation for the benefit of local society? The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the USA, for instance, organizes prizes instead of contracts, grants and other conventional means of encouraging technology development – for stronger interdisciplinarity, broader participation and for economic viability.
  • (B2) A number of East Asian economies have transitioned from being net technology importers to net technology exporters through continuous technological capability building. How can NSIs incentivise innovation beyond the two currently prevalent form of innovation in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) – imitation and adaptation?
  • (B3) How can national policy and national trade agreements enable foreign direct investment (FDI) to advance application of endogenous innovation for the benefit of local society?


Please contact the Research Strategy Manager (Dr Sara Serradas Duarte, if you would be interested in contributing to the programme with your research or practice on knowledge/technology-transfer.

This programme was supported by a GCRF Research England Institutional Grant.



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