Friday, June 30, 2006

"Technology Business Incubation"

By Rustam Lalkaka, UNESCO, 2006.

This UNESCO Toolkit on Innovation in Engineering Science and Technology is intended to guide sponsors, researchers, educators and corporate and government planner in exploring the incubation option, and then in establishing and operating a successful Technology Business Incubation programme.

Innovation and new technologies can have an impact at all levels -- from commercializing R&D in hi-tech sectors to fining solutions such as improved water pumps and cooking stoves at the grass-roots level in developing countries. To maximize this potential, strong linkages must connect innovation, knowledge production and the diffusion of knowledge.

A Technology Business Incubator (TBI) is a facility providing nurturing services to selected start-up and entrepreneurial groups in early-stage technology-related ventures, to help them scale-up laboratory research results, or their own innovations and to develop viable businesses.

The Toolkit begins by explaining what a technology business incubator is, followed by detailed chapters on planning, implementing and operating an incubator. Using concrete examples and practical information, it outline the process of set-up; from the initial feasibility study and business plan; through choosing a location, planning the layout and finding sponsors; to selecting managers and tenants and monitoring incubator performance. It is published in the Science and Technology Development Series.

For more information contact: Tony Marjoram or UNESCO Publishing.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Business Joins African Effort to Cut Malaria - New York Times

Business Joins African Effort to Cut Malaria - New York Times (Registration required.)

The international mining company Billiton joined with the government of Mozambique to control malaria in a region the size of Kentucky surrounding its massive aluminum smelter near Maputo. Six years later, "wielding a combination of new medicines, better bed nets, old-fashioned pesticides and computer analysis to clean up the most afflicted areas, the smelter and its partners in business and government have turned malaria in one of its former hot spots into a manageable threat."

"The government of Equatorial Guinea and two American oil companies created a similar program three years ago on Bioko Island, whose offshore oil reserves are a magnet for foreign investors. In the June issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, researchers reported initial declines in infection rates there as well."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development:"

The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development: An Imperative for the U.S. Agency for International Development

The paper copy of this book just arrived. The online version has been available for some time. I suspect the report is must reading for those in the United States interested in science and technology for international development.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Scientific Diasporas"

Read the full article by Béatrice Séguin, Peter A. Singer and Abdallah S. Daar in Science magazine (Science 16 June 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5780, pp. 1602 - 1603). (Subscription required.)

Among the 60 participants, there was very little systematic S&T interaction with their COs (countries of origin) . The participants could be divided into three broad categories: interested and/or concerned, leaders, and those who had experienced networks.

Forty-one individuals fell into the category of interested and/or concerned, of whom 25 had a strong desire to "help" but were not aware of any ready vehicles through which to offer assistance. When we asked why they had not initiated formal linkages, participants listed reasons such as lack of time, financial barriers, lack of infrastructure in their CO, or they said that no one, including their CO, had asked for their contributions. Some scientists said they were at a disadvantage because they were still in the process of building their careers in Canada. In one scientist's words "I do not have the freedom (to initiate linkages) because I am not a principal investigator." Other participants echoed this sentiment and said that even if they tried to initiate collaborations with their CO, they would not have credibility unless they held a high-profile position in the developed world. Finally, a common response among these participants was to look at the study notice as a "call for help," and although the notice made no mention of this, they hoped they were being recruited for an existing program.

Nine individuals were actively engaged in projects in or with their COs. They have contributed to S&T capacity-building in various ways such as serving a scientific advisory role in academic institutions, organizing joint research projects, organizing "traveling expert panels," forming a transnational life-science company spanning Canada and the CO, and partnering with a Canadian company to help it enter his CO's market. Among these leaders was an executive officer of a biotechnology firm, principal investigators in academic research centers, and a Ph.D. student. One of these participants was contacted by a diaspora initiative based in his CO. However, he said he received few e-mails from this organization, and his evaluation was that "things start but they don't finish."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

"G8 'failing to meet aid pledges'"

I have not been posting much, because I am in Uganda, and a little out of touch.

I am no expert on the country, since this is only my second visit. Still it seems obvious that this is a country in which a lot of people are living below the poverty level, and yet it is a country in which there are significant signs of progress. It seems a place that needs and probably deserves foreign aid.

Today, BBC News tells me:
UK charity Oxfam says increases in aid from the world's richest countries are not enough to meet promises they made at the Gleneagles G8 meeting last year.
What a surprise! Former colonial powers and rich countries saying that they will act generously, but behaving differently in Africa!

I have just read Howard French's book, A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa. I recommend it. He writes well, and was on the ground as a New York Times reporter during the mid 1990's. He tells a story of "things falling apart" in west and central Africa and of the great powers at best standing by and not helping much. I can not really imagine what it was like, with millions of people being killed by "ethic cleansing" and general violence!

French, as a reporter, was dealing with big-wig politicians (or with hotel staff, drivers, etc.) Only with other journalists does he seem to feel a sense of peer solidarity. Not surprisingly, he finds those whose greed and sadism lead to such violence and destruction to be a very bad lot.

Here I tend to deal with people in the university or donor organizations. I do feel they are my peers, and I am impressed by their willingness to strive for progress. A lot of them are very impressive professionals.

Maybe that is why my impressions here are more positive than those French conveys in his book.