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U.S. Research Universities Launch New Initiatives for Tech-Based International Development in Africa

August 07, 2013

U.S. research universities have launched several new initiatives to impact international development across Africa by leveraging their institutional knowledge to support tech-based economic growth on the continent. The African Development Bank, a regional multilateral development bank, also announced that it will commit $45 million for the creation of a Pan African University consisting of five thematic institutes focused primarily on science, technology and innovation.

In partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Johannesburg Centre of Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University announced a new tech entrepreneurship training program according to ventureburn.com . The partnership, funded by a grant from Google, will help more than 30 engineering and computer science students develop real-world mobile service startups. Through a six week incubator program, students will receive access to curriculum materials, software technologies, online platforms and professional networks. Since 2000, MIT has launched 16 similar efforts (eight of those in Africa) to encourage tech development in emerging markets through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives.

In partnership with the Global Youth Innovative Network (GYIN), Columbia University Business School launched GYIN-CBS InVentEd Online Innovation, Venture Creation, Education program. By leveraging cutting-edge technology, the web-based program will identify and equip young African entrepreneurs (under the age of 30) with the necessary skills and tools they need to start their business and take it to the next level. This intensive online program exposes participants to entrepreneurship concepts and innovation practices through interactive online lectures, short cases and self-directed assignments.

The Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) opened its first innovation center in West Africa. Intended to fuel international development in the region, the program focuses on increasing innovation, entrepreneurship and scaling up small businesses. The center will provide a suite of services to business in the region by leveraging the skills of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford alumni and other foreign donors.

The African Development Bank (AfDB), a regional multilateral development bank, announced that it will commit $45 million for the creation of a Pan African University (PAU). The University will consist of five institutes focused mainly on science, technology and innovation. Intended to serve the entire continent, PAU will establish an academic network of already existing post-graduate and research based in East, West, Central, North and Southern Africa. The network will provide:

  • Basic sciences, technology and innovation (East Africa);
  • Earth and life sciences including health and agriculture (West Africa);
  • Governance, humanities and social sciences (Central Africa);
  • Water and energy sciences including climate change (North Africa); and,
  • Space sciences (Southern Africa).

AfDB believes the network will contribute to the skills needed by African countries to add value to their natural resources and enhance competitiveness and employment.

r&d, higher ed, international, entrepreneurship, commercialization