The event attracted dignitaries from government, academia and industry, with the Edo State Governor ably represented by the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shaibu. The Vice Chancellor was represented by the DVC Academic, Prof. Pius Iribhogbe. DVC Administration Prof. Jacob Ehiorobo, the Registrar and Secretary to Council, Mrs. O.A. Oshodin, the School Librarian, represented by Dr. L. Obasuyi and Pastor G.E. Evbagheru representing the Bursar were present. A retinue of Professors, Provost, Deans and Directors were also present, as well as nominees from different Faculties. Partner Industries and Organizations from different parts of Nigeria equally graced the occasion.
The Executive Director, African Union Scientific Technical Research Commission was ably represented by Mallam (Dr) Mohamed Kyari who presented a very incisive keynote address. Group Captain (Dr,) O.C. Ubadike, Director of Aerospace Research, Nigerian Air Force presented the first plenary paper, drawing largely from his wealth of experience garnered over the years from working with academia to emphasize the need to strengthen such collaborations.
The team from Lancaster University (LU) included Prof. Paul Nigel, Prof. Kirk Semple, Dr. Crispin Halsall, Dr. Ruth Alcock, Dr. Akanimo Odon, Dr. Cynthia Forson (LU Ghana) and Ekeoma Ogwo (PhD Student LU, UK). The second plenary paper was presented by Prof Kirk Semple, Director of International Engagement, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK with the topic: Importance of International Partnership. The third plenary paper was delivered by Prof. Nigel Paul, Director of Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK, with the topic: The Lancaster Eco-Innovation Model and its potential for Africa.
The CGE-Nigeria team, under the visionary leadership of Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, who has nursed the dream of Academia-Industry Synergy for years, was fully on ground. Other members of the CGE-Nigeria Planning Committee are; Professor Christopher Emokaro, Dr. Isioma Tongo, Engr. Efosa Osamudiamen, Prof. A.C. Ugbuanugo, Prof. (Mrs.) Charity Okiemien, Prof. C.E Okaka, Prof. S.M. Ogbomwan, Prof. Dickson Orhiakhi, Prof. (Mrs.) H. Oboh, Prof. B.A. Chokor, Prof A.O Ogbemudia, Prof. P.A.O. Odjugo, Dr. Barr. G.L. Umoru, Dr. Ken Modugu, Mr. Peter Akhator and Mr. Kingsley Okorie (Secretary).
The theme of the Event was “Eco-Innovation: Bridging the valley of death “, describing the huge problem of unemployment and unemployability of Nigerian graduates as worrisome. More worrisome is the absence of practical industry-led skills and business enterprise development capacity amongst fresh graduates. A clear mitigating measure would be to evolve an academia-industry engagement capable of correcting these defects. A strategic partnership exists between University of Benin and Lancaster University in this regard.
The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shaibu who represented the Edo State Governor officially Launched the Center for Global Eco-innovation (CGE) Nigeria, fashioned after the LU Model of Centre for Global Eco-innovation (CGE) established to support business-led collaborative research that underpins the development of new products, processes, and services for the new global marketplaces.
Lancaster University has a long-term standing relationship with the University of Benin and there is a Memorandum of Agreement between both Universities. Building on this established relationship, enhanced by a series of academia-industry fora, the two Universities have worked together to establish CGE (Nigeria) at the University of Benin.
The strategic vision for CGE Nigeria would be delivered through the series of Eco-innovation activities. The Centre for Global Eco-innovation (Nigeria) is being set up at the University of Benin with a core vision:
- To embrace the new national agenda in Nigeria around the need for collaboration between academic research and industry to drive sustainable, equitable economic growth.
- To support Nigerian business by bridging the gap between academia and industry using a series of target –driven intervention pioneered at Lancaster but redefined and tested to meet the specific needs of Nigeria
- To make the University of Benin an industry /academia co-location and co-development hub
Six senior academics from the University of Benin are currently working with colleagues from Lancaster University in different thematic areas towards joint bids for the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF). The GCRF is a ₤1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government to support cutting edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries.
FIVE KEY EXPECTED DELIVERABLES FROM CGE NIGERIA
- CGE-Nigeria/University of Benin EBP Team to develop and launch a programme of students (UG and or Masters) projects with businesses
- CGE-Nigeria and Lancaster to work together to develop and launch a shared approach to cognate Continued Professional Development (CPD) in (i) University of Benin and (ii) more widely in West Africa, with appropriate drawing on the complementary expertise of other organizations
- CGE-Nigeria/University of Benin EBP Team to develop and launch a programme of co-designed collaborative research and development work with industries in Nigeria, with appropriate drawing on complementary expertise and facilities at Lancaster
- CGE Nigeria to work with others at University of Benin to develop a company co-location facility to allow companies, especially SMEs, to establish a base alongside University Staff and facilities
- Internship as a panacea for improved graduate employability