Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) has become increasingly important in the development of contemporary societies. The role of STI in the developing world in the 21st Century cannot be over-emphasized as it is fundamentally changing the way people work, live, connect, communicate and transact with profound positive effects on economic development.
STI also plays a big role in the informal sector by fostering research and development as well as innovation that lead to new markets. In fact, the greatest economies in the world today are largely driven by STI and Nigeria cannot be left behind.
Sequel to this, in showing its firm determination to develop other sectors of the economy following the plummeting of the crude oil, the Federal Government has taken strategic steps to come up with policy frameworks to this effect. One of such is its Executive Order 005 centered around promoting Nigeria’s local content development and making sure Nigeria patronises its local technology.
In encouraging indigenous innovators and inventors to keep coming up with products that will address the nation’s technological need, the government inaugurated the Presidential Standing Committee on Inventions and Innovations (PSCII) in 2005.
The committee chaired by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology with other members drawn from relevant MDAs, NGOs and the organized private sector (OPS) is saddled with the mandate to encourage invention and innovation in technology; examine any research claims and determine what can be done to take such claims to prototype and commercial level; and suggest how funds could be sourced to finance the various stages of development from inception to prototype and finally to commercalisation.
Since its inauguration in 2005, the committee has consistently identified and encouraged inventors and innovators with uncommon ingenuity that could have positive impact on the Nigerian economy and Nigerians though its grant award scheme.
Showing its commitment to the development of STI, the government at the 2017 PSCII grant award presentation ceremony in Abuja, gave N43,500,000 grant to encourage and assist 121 indigenous innovators and inventors drawn from the six geopolitical zones of the country who have uncommon ingenuity that could have positive impact on the Nigerian economy and Nigerians.
In his speech at the award ceremony to beneficiaries, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said the ceremony was very important in creating entrepreneurs who in turn would create new jobs, pointing out that new businesses would be created through a successful commercialization of their inventions and innovations.
“This grant may not be all that you need to improve on your inventions and innovations but it is an important recognition of your creativity, hard work and commitment to the realization of a dream that you have lived with for a long time,” he added.
The minister urged the awardees to obtain patents for their products by protecting their intellectual property so that venture capitalists could help in commercialising their inventions and innovations and to seek the assistance of a parastatal under the ministry. He assured them the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) would be ready to assist if they encounter challenges with the registration.
Earlier, the permanent secretary of the science ministry, Mr Bitrus Bako Nabasu, stated that the committee received a total of 590 applications for the year 2017 award, saying it was trimmed down to 121 after screening by the technical sub-committee (TSC).
“The selected inventors/innovators were grouped into three categories. Category one has 24 number of awardees with an award grant of N500,000 per awardee. Category two has 54 number of awardees with an award grant ranging between 300,000 and N400,000 per awardee while category three has 43 number of awardees with an award grant of between N200,000 and N250, 000 per awardee. In total N43,500,000 will be given grants to these 121 inventors and innovators who have shown exceptional ingenuity,” he said.
While congratulating the beneficiaries, the perm sec advised them to utilise the grant judiciously in order to make an impact on their various innovations that would lead to commercialisation of their products.
In his speech, the chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Prof. Robert Boroffice said innovation did not just occur in the universities and institutions, adding individuals that were endowed could come up with innovation that could revolutionise the world. He challenged them to see the grant as a challenge to work harder and do more.
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