Technology has influenced the way we interact with each other including how we buy products and services as well as service delivery at workplaces. The use of robotics has impacted the workplace in the sense that some tasks can be completed by automated systems. Hence the need for organisations to adapt to the needs and requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in order to achieve their mandates thereby remaining relevant.

It is against this background that the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) had to heed the importance of the 4IR as a means to capacitate all stakeholders rise and find ways of handling impact emanating from technological enhancements. HRDC’s mandate covers research and development (R&D), this therefore necessitated HRDC to host a Technology Transfer Training Workshop from the 9th – 13th March 2020 at the Woodlane Hotel in Gaborone.

The objectives of the workshop were to; increase the participants’ awareness and knowledge of intellectual Property (IP) management and Technology Transfer (TT), to equip the participants with the technical  know-how to establish TT function at institutions  of learning through sharing of knowledge, experience and learnings from South African TTOs as well as  providing direct support and assistance to organisations with the establishment and enhancement of their TT functions through application of international best practices. The workshop was facilitated by Southern African Research Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) while the participants were predominantly from the Tertiary Education Sector.

Giving the welcome remarks at the workshop, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HRDC, Dr Raphael Dingalo advised that as countries progressively shift towards knowledge-based economies, Tertiary Education Institutions (TEI’s) increasingly play a central role in the growth of the economy, wealth creation, employment and competitiveness. According to Dr Dingalo there is a changing demand necessitating the academia to contribute directly towards tangible economic development. This calls for research initiatives beyond just basic research however, expectations are for the academia to provide sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by the society. ‘‘Botswana recognises the need for a robust education system to achieve economic competitiveness and transform itself into a knowledge-based society as enshrined in the Tertiary Education Policy of 2008. Therefore, it is quite imperative to strengthen the capacity for local researchers through training, knowledge and skills transfer, and to stimulate the innovation ecosystem,’’ stated Dr Dingalo in his welcome remarks.

The advent of the 4IR calls for radical approaches towards embracing research and innovation. The impact of the 4IR is already visible as there are some inventions such as; self-driving cars and consumers can now order a cab service, book a flight, buy products remotely at the comfort of their home. The response to the 4IR has to be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global community from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society. Therefore, Tertiary Education Institutions (TEIs) have been tasked to advocate for the productive use of knowledge mainly because the industry yearns for continuous creation and transfer of latest technologies and production processes that will enhance their productivity and competitiveness. As a result, this requires targeted research activities that will support the growth of the industry.  

In conclusion, there we ample recommendations that were tabled, however one of the key commendations from the workshop is that TEIs should seriously consider setting up Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) at their respective institutions that will serve as an 'intermediary' between suppliers of innovations (University Scientists) and those who can potentially (aid to) commercialise the innovations i.e. firms, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The mandate of the University-based TTO will be to provide adequate administrative support to allow the researchers to concentrate on R&D efforts and knowledge exchange.


News Date: 
Friday, March 13, 2020