When key actors in the research and innovation landscape, such as Science Granting Councils, work in isolation, a huge opportunity to leverage resources, skills and expertise is missed.
How, then, can Science Granting Councils catalyze and facilitate knowledge exchange and collaborative partnerships with the private sector and among other actors in the innovation landscape? A newly published toolkit contains tools and strategies to support Science Granting Councils in strategic communication and engagement with the actors in the innovation landscape and particularly with the private sector.
With increased emphasis on the need for more structured communication and engagement among actors to spur sustainable public-private partnerships, a guiding framework is not only essential but paramount. The new toolkit contains tools and strategies for initiating and sustaining knowledge exchange while also equipping users with skills to ‘down-step’ the knowledge and also institutionalize the approach within their organizations. It suggests ways to design and implement structured communication and engagement in projects, programs, or institutions.
The toolkit is also conceived as a guide, containing resources and materials to help plan and execute a three-day training workshop. The design, presentation, and content are geared towards supporting customized, self-use by the facilitators.
While the guidelines have been specifically tailored for Africa’s Science Granting Councils, the insights it provides are relevant for other Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) actors.
Responding to expressed needs and identified gaps
In March 2018, The Scinnovent Centre together with the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Research Organization (STIPRO) and the Association of African Universities (AAU) under the auspices of the Science Granting Councils Initiative in Africa (SGCI) organized a regional training workshop for Science Granting Councils on ‘Strategic Communication and Engagement with the Private Sector’. The training was responding to the results of a training needs assessment conducted with the 15 Science Granting Councils participating in the Initiative, in which “strategic communications with the private sector” emerged as the most critical and urgent need. Out of a fundamental need to institutionalize and increase the dissemination of the tools and strategies offered by the training, Theme 3 of the SGCI conceptualized and produced this toolkit, led by the Scinnovent Centre. It is conceived both as a resource book and as a training manual that can be used to replicate the learnings to a broader audience.