Monday, June 1, 2020

R & D remains critical to entrepreneurship, economy

BY VICTOR BAATWENG

WASHINGTON, USA – The Center for American Entrepreneurship ÔÇô a non-partisan policy advocacy group based here in Washington D.C, USA has listed Research and Development as a critical part of entrepreneurial development. As such the entity has listed R&D at the top of its “to do list”.

The group was set up in 2017 following a painful realization that entrepreneurship in America ÔÇô one of the pioneers of the trade was on decline.

According to the Center for American Entrepreneurship founder and President ÔÇô John Dearie, start-ups rates in America is now near four decades low. Dearie said new business formation in the US continue to go down by at least 100, 000 annually – a decline he attributes to slow commercialization of innovation and cumbersome processes.

As part of its research to establish reasons of the decline in entrepreneurship in the US, the Center for American Entrepreneurship conduct roundtables across the country with existing entrepreneurs.

Dearie said that several the participants have indicated that capital access has become even more difficult than ever. It has also emerged that the US’s immigration policy is a source of headache.

“There are not enough people with skills needed”, Dearie told a group of journalists at the National Press Centre in Washington D.C.

Given the visible decline, the board of the Center for American Entrepreneurship ÔÇô made up of entrepreneurs and people who work with them has come up with one mission. To educate policy makers in the US on the critical importance of entrepreneurs and start-ups to innovation, economic growth and job creation.

He said that the aim is to push policy makers to restore Federal funding of research and development to historic levels. The Center is also calling for a reform and acceleration of the commercialization of R & D generated innovation.

DEFECIENCY EVEN IN BOTSWANA

In Botswana, the government may have recorded surplus budgets in the past few decades but available data show deficiency in the share of the money dedicated to research and development.

The data shows that the amount budgeted for represented 0.08 per cent of GDP for 2015/16, 0.07 percent of GDP in 2016/2017 and 0.09 per cent in 2017/18.

Fedelis Molao ÔÇô now minister of Agriculture maintained in March 2019 that there is no ideal percentage relative to the GDP of research and development budget for the economy.

Whilst he said so, it has since emerged that the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), of which Botswana is a member, has set at least one percent of GDP as a target.

Molao, who at the time was junior minister at the ministry of Research admitted that SADC/AU target provides a yardstick for comparison. He was also quick to state that no member state in SADC has achieved this level yet. 

Still in April 2019, Molao told Parliament that the Research Ministry is putting in place a Research Information Management System – an electronic platform that is expected to enable the ministry to track research information as well as investment in research and development.

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