The Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) recently forged a link through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in their efforts to promote research and development for health, equity and development in Botswana and Africa with the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED).
In an interview with Sunday Standard, BIH Chief Executive Officer, Alan Boshwaen, stated that housing the Africa office of COHRED will enable the locally based health research community to benefit directly from this foundation in pursuing their work through access to networks, resources and the related research of others.
He added that one of the fundamental scientific pillars envisaged in setting up the Hub is Biotechnology which includes health related research.
Boshwaen further stated that the research networks will create benefits to ordinary Batswana everywhere as well as to others globally.
“The establishing of COHRED in the BIH furthers our goals. Practically we anticipate that regular health research oriented international gatherings and meetings will be convened in Gaborone and specifically in the Hub,” he said.
Furthermore, Boshwaen said that BIH will work with the established network of COHRED in reaching out to international foundations and others interested in funding health related research of particular relevance to Botswana and Africa such as HIV/AIDS. “This creates the scope for local researchers to be meaningfully employed”
He revealed that BIH is already assisting by giving COHRED office accommodation as part of its interim offices, which are in the BOTEC building in the Fairgrounds area of Gaborone. Boshwaen added that, upon completion of the BIH buildings near the SSK International Airport, BIH and its various affiliate companies to the Science and Technology Park will relocate.
“As the relationship grows and the Hub activities gather pace, we can only anticipate other spin-off linkages. The Hub is relevant both to start up innovative ventures to large multinational organizations as well as individual researchers with unique marketable ideas or inventions,” said Boshwaen.
BIH further said that the MoU provides for the two organizations to work together towards the development of an HIV-AIDS centre of expertise at the Hub and also on the joint mobilization of funds for research and innovation. He stated that in terms of advocacy, the MoU also calls upon both organizations to mobilize regional and international networks to support collaborations for research and innovation for health.
“The main legal binding terms, roles and responsibilities are contained in other agreements or contracts that are being worked out but this signed MOU signals a clear goal to work together,” he explained.
BIH CEO is optimistic that commercial and private sector investors are being courted from Botswana and internationally to invest in the intensive development of the science and technology park, which is directly adjacent to the DTC building in Gaborone.
COHRED is an independent international foundation with its main office located in Geneva, Switzerland and Boshwaen and Prof. Carel IJsselmuiden, the Geneva based Executive Director of COHRED, signed the MoU.
COHRED provides support to low and middle income countries in the development of their research and innovation capacities for health, whilst BIH works to develop and operate a science and technology park through which research, development and innovation activities can be used to move Botswana towards a knowledge economy.
Furthermore, BIH has already forged strategic collaboration partnerships with the University of Botswana, Global Business Labs, Microsoft, and the Ministry of Health.