Eighteen brilliant minds from across Nigeria’s academia recently converged at an Innovation Startup driven organisation, Innov8 Hub, in Abuja to transform their ideas into prototypes that can make a real impact in the country.
The lecturers who spent over twelve days at Innov8 Hub, were engaged in mind-mapping sessions, workshops, ideation, problem-definition, and pragmatic steps to turn their research ideas into innovative solutions.
The workshop was held under the “Research for Impact (R4i)” initiative, a ground-breaking initiative of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), in collaboration with Innov8 Hub.
R4i aims to equip members of Nigerian academia from various public higher institutions with the necessary skills, processes and procedures needed to create innovative solutions from their research ideas, in order to tackle real-world challenges.
The eighteen lecturers who were chosen to participate in the R4i initiative for two weeks worked alongside mentors and experts at Innov8 Hub to transform their ideas into innovative solutions aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
At the closing ceremony of the workshop, the researchers were able to develop four prototype innovations to address the challenges in the country, focusing on hunger, poverty, quality education and responsible consumption and production.
The lecturers who were divided into four teams developed prototypes of their innovative solutions to address challenges in the Nigerian Society.
Team one, called ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ designed a smart grain storage using an approach that prevents pest infestation of stored grains; keeping them safe for consumption while Team 2 called ‘No Poverty’ designed a Float House named “Gimbaliya,” constructed using low density material that float on water.
Team 3 ‘zero hunger’ developed an Automated Ultrasonic Solar-Powered Sprayer and broad-spectrum bio-pesticides for control of pests in an eco-friendly manner, anchored on SDG 2-Zero Hunger.
Team 4 ‘Quality Education,’ designed an innovation, ‘E-Access,’ a mobile application that caters for lecturers who develop lecture materials, and students in need of lecture materials.
The executive secretary of TETFund, Arch. Sonny Echono, who spoke at the closing of the event, encouraged the participants to be change agents when they go back to their various institutions.
He urged them to make the right contribution and see that education become impactful, set personal goals and ignore the noise around them in order to excel in whatever they do.
The executive secretary further said Nigeria must move from the mindset that God will give them everything.
“The Research for Impact Initiative is a logical response to our desire to solve societal problems, to address the challenges we currently face in our country in terms of generating revenue.
“Our country is going through very difficult times. We have one of the highest population growth rates in the world and there are projections that in a few years now we will actually become the third in the world in terms of population.
“While many see this as a blessing, some of us also know that if we do not prepare our population and give them the tools to survive and compete, we have a time bomb in our hands because our landmark is not going to increase, we are going to have challenges,” he said.
Chief facilitator for R4i workshop, Dr Obichi Obiajunwa was to celebrate the culmination of two weeks of intensive training in innovation and prototype development, an endeavor that has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on each and every one of the participants.
He said innovation is the lifeblood of progress for any nation and the driving force that propels societies forward, enabling them to tackle complex challenges and create a better world.
“As lecturers, you play a crucial role in shaping the minds of future generations, and your ability to infuse innovation into your teaching and research will have a profound impact on the development of our nation.
“The knowledge and skills you have acquired in this workshop will not only enhance your individual abilities but also enrich the academic landscape of your respective universities.
“The prototypes that you have developed throughout this workshop are a testament to your creativity and problem-solving prowess. Each idea represents a spark of inspirational potential solution to a pressing societal issue.
“These prototypes have the power to transform lives, to drive sustainable development, and to contribute to the well-being of our communities,” he said.
He commended TETFund for the invaluable support and guidance in fostering innovation and research excellence in the country.
Obiajunwa also congratulated all the participating lecturers who have dedicated their time and energy to be a part of the transformative journey.
“Your commitment to translational and value-driven research, and your passion for making a difference in your universities is truly commendable.
“Throughout this workshop, I have had the privilege of witnessing your unwavering determination, collaborative spirit, and the limitless possibilities that can be achieved when brilliant minds come together.
“The past two weeks have been a time of exploration, learning, and personal development. We have delved into the realms of innovation, embracing new perspectives, and pushing the boundaries of what we thought was possible.
“We have explored the principles and practices of research commercialization, equipping ourselves with the necessary tools to turn ideas into tangible solutions that can shape the future,” he said.
But beyond the technical aspects, he said the workshop has not only kindled the fire for innovation-driven research, but has fostered a sense of unity, forging lasting connections and building a network of like-minded individuals committed to research for impact.
He said a prototype is just the beginning and the first step towards a larger journey of implementation, refinement, and scaling.
“I encourage you to nurture these prototypes, to seek support and collaboration, and to bring them to fruition so that they may have the far-reaching impact they were designed for.”