We’ve created avenue for commercialisation of telecom-based research in Nigeria – NCC

 We’ve created avenue for commercialisation of telecom-based research in Nigeria – NCC

By Ibrahim Adeleke

The Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Adeolu Akande, has charged the charged the scholars in universities across Nigeria researching in the development of locally grown technologies to be up and doing, saying the NCC has created an avenue for them to market and commercialise the results of the researches.

Akande made the plea at a roundtable with academia, industry and other stakeholders in the southern region held in Lagos on Wednesday.

The NCC chair said the Commission organised the forum for the researchers to showcase their research results to the the industry who can pick and leverage on the researches for the development of the telecom ecosystem in Nigeria.

He noted that the Agency has been funding the researchers at various academic institution levels from University to Secondary schools to aid research Lea that could fast track the local technological contents, which it has been advocating.

He notes that the same roundtable had been organised in Kano last month for the university researchers in the Northern region.

“The 2022 Regional Roundtable is targeted at bringing together relevant players and agencies to develop a framework/template commercialising telecommunication-based research prototypes which emanated from NCC research grants to the academia.

“Experience indicates that even the most promising ideas face daunting commercialisation challenges as difficulty always exist between promising concepts and viable products. This event will provide a forum for stakeholders to share experiences and exchange ideas on the best strategies to adopt in commercialising viable innovative research outputs from our Academia.

“I believe our discussions will generate new ideas and strategies for addressing commercialising challenges that confront our researchers.

“I want to use this opportunity to assure you that the Commission will continue to give support to the educational sector in the interest of national development. We will also continue to encourage research and innovation in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions.

“The Commission is committed to funding research activities and building a sound regulatory environment which is critical in supporting growth in other sectors of the economy.

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“We strongly appreciate the importance of working with stakeholders to engender innovations and build indigenous technological capabilities that would strengthen the ICT ecosystem; not only in the provision of services, but also in the development of a communications manufacturing and supply sector within the Nigerian economy.

“Consequently, the Commission will continue to allocate the requisite resources to research, development and innovations necessary for the industry to continue to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country.”

The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta said the Academia is a key driver of innovation in all spheres of human endeavour. But in specific terms, the ideas, inventions and improvements that emanate from the Academia are required by Industry for improved efficiencies and productivity. With this in mind, the regulator as a critical component of any ecosystem, aims to ensure all stakeholders are protected and the industry nurtured for maximum benefit to business and society.

Danbatta, who was represented by the Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, NCC, Ms Josephine Amuwa said thw roundtable was aimed at bringing together resource persons, business savvy industry experts, the Academia, National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), experts from the Federal Ministry of Technology, entrepreneurs and renowned individuals who have successfully commercialised their inventions. This is to encourage the commercialisation of locally developed telecommunications innovations – which hitherto had been sponsored by the Commission, as a way of fostering and deepening the indigenous technological capabilities of Nigerians, to support the overall growth of the industry and creating wealth for the spin-off companies.

“Faced with the challenges of Commercialising research prototypes, it is clear that the Commission will have to make a commitment to facilitate the contributions from Academia, by supporting the commercialisation of these prototypes, to deepen the indigenous technological capabilities which would support the overall development of the industry.

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“While appreciable impacts have been achieved since the Commission reinvigorated the award of Research Grants for the Telecommunications-based Research Innovations from Nigerian Academics, it has become imperative to focus on the successful commercialisation of these locally developed telecommunications’ innovations, which is fundamental, to achieving the overall objective of the programme,” he said.

The Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, Engr. Ubale Maska, stated that the NCC has awarded a total of 49 Telecom-based Research Grants to the Academia of which 10 prototypes were successfully developed.

According to him, the overall goal of the event is to share experiences and provide the necessary platform to support the commercialisation of locally developed telecommunications innovations which were sponsored by the NCC.

“This event shows our level of commitment in supporting innovative research and development in collaboration with the Academia.

“These locally made prototypes are in line with Pillar 8 of National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy 2020-2030 namely, Indigenous Content Development and Adoption, which focuses on promoting and adopting indigenous content that will enable Nigeria benefit from the increasingly global digital technology market. The activities in this pillar will ensure that “Made in Nigeria” digital economy products are of globally acceptable standards.

“To encourage the commercialization of the 10 prototypes, the Commission, in February 2022, held a Research and Prototype Exposition which brought together universities, professionals and industry experts, to share information and build long-lasting business relationships with the endgame of making those research outputs available in Nigeria marketplace.”

Maska, who whose message was delivered by the Director, Technical Standards & Network Integrity, delivered address by Engr. Bako Wakil, said the Regional Roundtable was structured to include panel discussions and contributions that would aid in the development of an effective framework for commercialising the telecommunication-based prototypes resulting from NCC research grants to the Academia.

He informed that discussion at the forum would include topic on Understanding Commercialisation and Entrepreneurial University Model; Product Viability & Sustainability through Business Model Development & Market Survey; Intellectual Property (IP) Rights and Patents; Investment/Funding Opportunities for Prototype Development and Scalability; and Selling New Products in the Marketplace.

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Also speaking the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Kolade Adebowale, who noted the impacts of the financial intervention of the NCC in university telecom-based research, said there are still more to be done for the researches not be consequently dumped.

According to him, the researches would only be useful and beneficial for the development of the nation and economy only if there is cordial and healthy collaboration between the universities and the industry player.

“Bringing us stakeholders that are involved in the sector together is a very good programme particularly for the development of the country. One thing for this is that the research will not be for research sake but research for development. Industries will be able to come to the universities to tell us their problems and what they need and the universities too will be able to ask them the area they need help which the researchers in the institutions would work on.

“It is when we do this that we can impact on national development, otherwise we will get all the researches and they will just remain on the shelve without any impact. But when we come together like this, we will have opportunity to exchange ideas and move forward as a nation. Now the NCC is providing the opportunity and creating the channel for us to be able to interact together and that is what we really need now,” he said.

Other stakeholders corroborated the VC, calling for more relationship and interdependence between the academia and the industry.

Prof. Adebowale and other university VCs at the forum commended NCC for continually funding telecommunication-based researches in schools, promising to leverage on the opportunity to develop Nigeria owned technology.

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