The University of Botswana Vice Chancellor Professor David Norris says his institution is entering a robust entrepreneurial phase as evidenced by its innovative efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
Professor Norris cited the production of masks and sanitizers which will be commercialized to assist in the COVID-19 fight.
“The university is playing a critical role in fronting research and innovation development that are proving to be worthwhile and we are keen to commercialise these R& D products to raise money for the university not that we will be selling these research to the public,” he asserted.
He said UB is spending more in developing innovative products that in turn donates them to relevant health authorities but commercialising them will help them in cost recovery.
In addition, he asserted that university should not be heavily depending on government for financial support as it must create its own revenue streams, adding that the COVID-19 challenge in Botswana shows that self-reliance is crucial for the country.
According to Prof Norris, UB is in transformational trajectory by repositioning its strategic priorities to offer solutions to society driven from research evidence.
“We are open to working with other research stakeholders such as BIUST and BITRI in this fight. University partnerships are critical in this moment and this is an opportunity for indigenous tertiary institutions to be torch bearers. This is time to push knowledge economy,” he enthused.
Dean Faculty of Engineering and Technology at UB Dr Benjamin Bolaane underscored the university’s commitment to producing innovative solutions such as prototypes of face shields. Dr Bolaane is confident that the research team is on the right path as they have also created a dashboard to monitor the pandemic by giving up to date data on those who already did testing.
The university is also keen on working with other local stakeholders such as local traditional medicine men with Prof Norris noting that UB is already working with HEVEFRU Group from Tlokweng.
HEVEFRU Group, which is devoted to organic sustainable agriculture and promotion of health through traditional herbs, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UB in August last year.
The MOU aims amongst others are to promote and patent rich Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) through involving extensive collaborative research, consultation and technology transfer.
Similarly, Madagascar is one few countries that have turned into local herbs in the fight against COVID-19 with the country launching a local medicine claimed to be effective against the coronavirus.
Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina on Monday launched the remedy produced by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research and commercialized the herbal tea.