Addis Ababa University [AAU] has been engaged in research and community service activities since it was established in 1950. In recent years there has been a major drive by AAU to reinvigorate its entire research landscape while organically linking it with industry through vigorous technology transfer.
This initiative began after a thorough assessment of AAU’s past and present; through critical reflection on choices for future directions for the university and included the recent conclusion of a large-scale Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR) exercise.
In line with the current trend of modification at AAU, the changing horizon of education generally, and taking the responsibility entrusted to the institution by the Ethiopian government into account, the AAU recently subscribed to a new vision of becoming a preeminent research university in Africa.
“The AAU recently undertook a new vision of becoming a preeminent research university in Africa.”
A New Organizational Platform
As a result of this new approach, research at AAU has been given a new organizational platform with a new direction and a new policy framework. This ‘Office of the Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer’ is accountable to the University of Addis Ababa's President with responsibilities in leading, coordinating and facilitating the AAU’s research and technology transfer. This new office incorporates the Directorate of Research, the Directorate of University-Industry Linkage and Technology Transfer, the Directorate of Community services and the Directorate of Publications and Disseminations.
Building Responsive Research Capacity
The change at AAU underscores high-level decisions including that research should proactively respond to the national demand for new knowledge generation and dissemination and for technological development. The new approach will see research being conducted in a responsive and cost effective manner. Research will be interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary in its scope, and thematic in its approach. There is a strong focus on strengthening and developing student capacities in contemporary science and technology.
Research to Address National Problems
AAU now takes a strategic research approach. The research agenda is aligned with overarching goals that tackle problems that have been prioritized at national level and offer clear potential for economic or social benefit through knowledge generation. There is a a specific focus on the creation of related useable technologies.
By definition, tackling large-scale problems requires a thematic approach that is multidisciplinary, extending across more than one department/school/college and incorporating a number of research groups. Cooperative tactics, designed to address issues of broader context and scope, underscore this approach. The intention is that strategically coordinated and networked research programmes will ultimately achieve far more than individually initiated and conducted research projects.
“The university is also looking at ways to develop appropriate technological Research Uptake packages through incubation projects and techno-parks.”
Research conducted in such manner requires partnership amongst researchers from diverse fields of studies and production systems. This relationship building extends to government institutions, the private sector, civil society organizations and others that are involved identifying and resolving problems and will finally use the research outcomes, be it in the form of knowledge-for-use, extended technology or initiation of further research that will increasingly address societal problems at different level.
Research Uptake Communications
The university’s research outputs (knowledge, publications and technologies) will be documented and disseminated to end users through appropriate means such as publications, technical reports and policy briefs, through the public media, the university webpage, conference representation, exhibitions, open days, training, etc. The university is also looking at ways to develop appropriate technological Research Uptake packages through incubation projects and techno-parks.
The impact of the DRUSSA programme
The objectives of the Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) programme are in line with the Research Uptake activities that are already being worked on at AAU. The AAU’s institutional action plan will soon take commence, including discussions with top management on the importance of Research Uptake. We hope to revitalize our commitment by establishing new AAU Research Uptake implementation teams.
Prof Teketel Yohannes Anshebo is Director for Research at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.br /> email:firstname.lastname@example.org