TETFund’s support to universities on innovative research yielding fruits — Echono

THE Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Sonny Echono has asserted that the commitment of the Fund to support researchers and academics in Nigerian universities to bring their innovative ideas to fruition is beginning to yield results.

Echono made the assertion in Abuja at the showcase and closing ceremony of the TETFund Alliance for Innovative Research (TETFAIR) programme for universities, an initiative of the Fund in collaboration with Innov8 Technology Hub.

The closing ceremony was attended by top government functionaries, captains of industries and other stakeholders, who were taken round the exhibition stands of the various participants grouped into teams based on areas of focus, for them to witness firsthand some of the impact of the Fund’s unwavering commitment to research and development.

Recall that in line with the commitment of the Federal Government to achieve technological and economic development in the country, TETFund had, about a year ago gone into partnership with Innov8 Hub, an Innovation Startup driven organisation, to make innovative opportunities accessible to academics in Nigerian tertiary institutions.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the one-year programme, Echono said he was pleased with the tangible impact of the project which provided opportunity for researchers and innovators from the beneficiary institutions to transform their ideas into solutions and innovations, including the development and fabrication of prototypes for commercialisation.

He disclosed that the teams had developed prototypes for application in agriculture and food technology ranging from a non-invasive, automated poultry measurement and data collection and analysis system, a wireless network-based system for tracking and monitoring small and higher animals to a drone equipped with innovative solutions that utilise sound to herd birds away from farms in a specific direction.

For education, a team designed and developed an education kit to be used as an experimental study kit for physics, using the characteristics of the flywheel.

Another team developed an automation solution for the textile drying process designed to enhance the cost efficiency of textile printing for small and medium businesses.

For the oil and gas industry, a team developed an intelligent remote monitoring device to help oil and gas facility owners carry out maintenance of the Cathodic Protection Systems on their pipelines.

A team also designed and developed a hearing aid that is self-programmable, affordable, and more suitable for the African market. Multiple units are currently undergoing testing. The team was selected among the top three  participants in the ARC Centre for Digital Innovation Entrepreneurship programme at the Sheba Hospital in Israel, and presented their innovation at an international medical conference.

“Interestingly, all prototypes have been tested and are receiving positive feedback from potential investors,” TETFund boss said.

Echono said these were some of the reasons why TETFund decided to showcase the remarkable strides achieved by scholars in the research and innovation ecosystem as a pointer to demonstrate the “transformative power of our collective efforts”.

According to him, the advocacy for the institutionalisation of Research and innovation in tertiary education arose from the need to address the myriads of underdevelopment problems plaguing the country and the lack of capacity to tackle them.

Echono lamented that despite several initiatives and development strategies proffered to improve the nation’s  socio-economic environment and reduce unemployment, poverty and other underdevelopment indices at all levels, the problems still persist.

He said there was therefore, the need to compliment these efforts with a foundation in science, technology and innovation with a view to bridging the knowledge gaps in the generation and utilization of research to solve the problems associated with underdevelopment, taking into cognizance the role of Innovative and problem-solving research as a critical driver of development in contemporary society.

He said: “TETFund, as the foremost interventionist agency in Nigeria’s Tertiary Education sector has deepened its intervention in content- based programmes.

“The Fund is making conscious investments in support of research, innovation and development as it remains the most compelling strategy for accelerating sustainable growth.

“In our bid to promote the institutionalisation of R&D, we have sought effective support for impactful research and innovation through partnership between tertiary institutions/research institutes, industry and government as a national response towards technological revolution, human capital development and sustainable economic competitiveness.

“Accordingly, the TETFAIR programme is the outcome of a fruitful collaboration between TETFund and Innov8 Technology Hub, an organization dedicated to the support and advancement of Innovation Start-up Incubation, Technology Transfer, Knowledge & Skill Impartation, Prototype Development, and Fabrication in Nigeria.

“TETFAIR is a year-long programme which provides a unique opportunity for our academics and researchers in Nigerian Universities to transform their ideas into market-driven solutions, including the development and fabrication of prototypes.

“Through the Initiative, selected teams of researchers and academic staff with promising ideas for innovative solutions in the programme’s areas of focus were supported via intensive in person and online training, mentorship and provision of access to high-end technology/specialized machinery to bring their ideas to fruition.

“The TETFAIR Programme strategically prioritises its areas of focus to support national aspiration as follows: Agriculture and Food Technology, Environment, Energy and Circular Economy; Health and Accessibility; Information Communication Technology and Security; Transportation, Aviation and Shipping Streamlining/Improving Production Process,” he stated.


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