Last week I attended the International Association of Science Park’s (IASP) conference in Windhoek, Namibia. I was very impressed by the organisation (thank you to Christian Toelg and to Dagmar Honsbein from the Namibia Business Innovation Centre) and by the quality of the speakers and their talks. I was awestruck by Luis Sanz’, the Director General of the International Association of Science Parks, knowledge of the science park industry and the roles they can play in technology transfer, as well as his grasp of management issues related to science parks. Luis really is a very impressive individual! I was also impressed by McLean Sibanda’s, the CEO of the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, presentation.
Africa has it’s own peculiar challenges and, I believe, needs to use science parks as instruments to promote the development and commercialisation of intellectual property that will give it a competitive advantage in international markets.
I was very encouraged by my discussion with Nkem Abonta, of the East London Industrial Development Zone, and what he had to tell me about their areas of focus. For example, plants are grown in East London that are unique to the region and can to used in medicines. Much of the acqatic life found along their shores is also unique to the region. Their plan is to support research and incubate businesses that are rooted in the unique characteristics of the region. This extends to development of wind farms and the development of businesses that support the automotive industry. It always disappoints me to hear about business incubators and science parks that simply follow the heard and focus on ICT!