One of the most transformative scientific gatherings in Africa is about to happen, here’s how you can be part of it

PUBLISHED: Mon, 12 Mar 2018 12:52:42 GMT

Content supplied and sponsored by AIMS 

We are less than 15 days from one of the most transformative scientific gatherings. More than just a scientific event, the second Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering to be held in Kigali, Rwanda on 26-28 March 2018, wants to spark new ideas, raise awareness on the possible impact of current and emerging technologies, stimulate Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) actors with a focus on implementation, strengthen the link between knowledge and knowhow and further build a strong African Community of Scientists.

The NEF hopes that showcasing innovative solutions, sometimes years ahead of industrial needs, relevant actors can make sure the necessary “brainpower” is ready to translate basic science into impactful results.

At NEF, we believe innovation should drive economic growth through the production and dissemination of knowledge. Increasing the pipeline to knowledge creation is a multi-faceted problem, which requires that we change the way we learn (and teach). It also requires that we close the gender gap and expand people’s horizons to better understand the value of engaging in STEM studies. As in 2016, we expect over 50% of participants under 42 years of age and at least 40% women.

Public institutions play a pivotal role in realizing this through implementing structural changes that would increase investment in R&D and required skills at state level, promoting inclusion of the private sector at an early state and updating policies to cater to current and fast-changing technology trends.

Additionally, knowledge valorization requires a more complex, often tiered approach. Making an idea or an invention into a product with market value and possible industry creation or disruption requires more than just scientists. It speaks to the policy and regulatory environment. It speaks to how the government works with the private sector. It speaks to conquering the ‘Valley of Death’.

“The ‘Valley of Death’ or ‘Valley of Hope’ is the point from which many new ideas going through the innovation process fail or succeed in progressing to the market level. Innovative concepts can either be turned into a working prototype or fail to progress. Factors that contribute to failure include lack of raw materials, inability to articulate the potential benefits, poor technical skills, inadequate infrastructure, and lack of funding among others,” said Dr. Youssef Travaly, Vice-President of Science, Innovation and Partnerships of the Next Einstein Forum.

Developing a Pan-African framework for innovation that plugs leaks along the knowledge creation pipeline and responds to the ‘Valley of Death’ leading to concrete social transformation throughout the continent requires: (1) The development and expansion of the pipeline to knowledge creation, (2) The strengthening of knowledge creation and, (3) Fostering knowledge valorization in a number of strategic sectors.

These are some of the high-level objectives of this NEF Global Gathering 2018. Learn more about the program. Follow the discussions online #NEF2018.

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