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    Webinar series: FUOYE to embark on massive academic entrepreneurship, VC assures

    …as UK based Business School don delivers lecture on turning Nigerian universities into entrepreneurship hubs

    By Wole Balogun
    SA Media to VC

    The Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) will soon embark on massive academic entrepreneurship in a bid to further live up to the expectations of becoming a truly 21st century University contributing profoundly to a knowledge-driven economy and reshaping the industrial landscapes of her country.

    Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Abayomi Sunday Fasina, gave the assurance on May 30, 2024 during one of the Webinars his office sponsored to train and equip academic staff members with skills on entrepreneurship .

    The Guest lecturer was Professor Seun Kolade of the Sheffield Business School, Sheffielf Hallam University, UK. He delivered an insightful lecturer entitled: Universities As Entrepreneurship Hubs: Local Research and The Engineering of Spin-Off Companies”. The lecture was indeed an eye-opener to the participants who appreciated the VC and his management team for giving them such rare opportunity.

    Prof. Kolade began his lecture on the premise that the 21st century has witnessed a shift towards a knowledge-driven economy, reshaping industrial landscapes. He said the transformation has profoundly impacted higher education as tertiary institutions, particularly the universities, can no longer be confined to solitary roles as knowledge producers. His words: “universities are transforming into dynamic hubs, fostering collaboration across disciplines and sectors. Nigeria universities must now rise up to the challenge in order to play a central role in driving innovation and economic development, in addition to their traditional mission of research and teaching”.

    The Sheffield Business School don spoke passionately on what he termed, “Universities as Catalysts of Knowledge Translation”, he said the big question at the heart of public debate is: “how can knowledge generated through research and shared via teaching be deployed to solve societal problems and create economic and social value?”. He underscored the importance of contributions of universities, as dominant sites of knowledge production and advised that : “Theoretical knowledge can and must be transformed into, or harnessed for, practical value and societal benefit.”

    Also speaking on “Bridging Theory and Practice in Higher Education”, Prof. Kolade remarked that Nigerian universities must focus more attention on skill development, providing hands-on experience, and integrating real-world projects into their curricula. He added that Universities must produce industry-ready graduates, and enhance their entrepreneurial skills for high-value post-graduation opportunities.

    He went on to define key terms associated with making a university an entrepreneurship hub. He defined what he called: THE ENTREPRENEURIAL PROCESS KEY COMPONENTS; ENTREPRENEURIAL OPPORTUNITY RECOGNITION, as : “the identification and evaluation of situations in which new products and services can be introduced through the formation of new means, methods and mechanisms.”

    He said VALUE CREATION, also means: “the process through which the entrepreneur exploit opportunities to bring to the market new products and services in order to deliver value to its stakeholders. Value creation can be both social and economic.

    According to him, VALUE CAPTURE is another key entrepreneurial process, and he defined this as: “the process by which entrepreneurs or businesses create, extract, and retain value from their innovative ideas, products, or services. It involves the strategies and mechanisms employed to generate profits, revenue, or other forms of value from the market. This process can take various forms, including pricing strategies, cost management, revenue models, and intellectual property protection”.

    The Sheffield Business guru made the lecture quite interestingly interactive by bringing discussions on practical ways FUOYE as a 21st century university can transform fully into an entrepreneurship hub. He elicited helpful responses from participants with such discussion topics as:
    Imagine FUOYE as a market, What is the market size? ;What is the profile of demand and supply? Who are the key suppliers? Who are the key consumers/service users;
    Where are the opportunity gaps in the market; Imagine FUOYE as a corporate entity
    Who are the key partners and stakeholders?
    What key resources underpin its competitive potentials?; In what ways can FUOYE support and incentivise its researchers to commercialise knowledge?”

    The Business School don disclosed an expertise tool which he named: The VRIN Model and describe this as: “ a framework used to assess the competitive potential of a company’s resources and capabilities. “

    He said the model is derived from the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm, which emphasizes the importance of internal resources as a source of competitive advantage. His words: “ VRIN stands for:

    • Valuable: Resources must add value by enabling a firm to exploit opportunities or neutralize threats in the market.
    • Rare: Resources must be rare among current and potential competitors.
    • Inimitable: Resources must be difficult to imitate or copy due to unique conditions such as historical context, causal ambiguity, or social complexity.
    • Non-substitutable: There should be no strategic equivalent resources that can be utilized to implement the same strategy.” Having stimulated the participants’ deep interest in academic entrepreneurship, Prof. Kolade proceeded to explain what the concept actually entails and how it could be achieved for the benefit of the University and her stakeholders. Hear him: “ Academic entrepreneurship is a multidimensional concept that refers to the process through universities engage in entrepreneurial activities. Academic entrepreneurship involves the transfer of knowledge and innovations generated within the academic environment to the broader society. This can include the commercialisation of research, inventions, and intellectual property.
      Entrepreneurial Mindset.
      “It involves fostering an entrepreneurial mindset within academic institutions, encouraging faculty, students, and researchers to identify and pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Academic entrepreneurship contributes to economic development by spurring innovation, creating new businesses, and driving job growth within the local and regional economies.”

    Speaking further, he also harps ion collaboration, training, and risk-taking among others as constituting other features of academic entrepreneurship. Thus, he said:
    “It often requires collaboration between academia, industry, and government, as academic institutions partner with external stakeholders to bring innovations to market.
    Technology Transfer
    The process includes technology transfer activities, such as licensing technologies, forming spin-off companies, and patenting inventions developed within the academic setting.

    “Academic entrepreneurship also includes the provision of education and training programs in entrepreneurship and innovation for students and faculty. It involves commercializing academic research and intellectual property, leading to the development of new products, services, and startups. Academic entrepreneurship requires a willingness to take calculated risks and overcome challenges associated with bringing academic innovations to market.

    “It aims to make a positive impact on society by addressing real-world problems and needs through innovative solutions.
    Policy and Support Ecosystem
    Effective academic entrepreneurship is often facilitated by supportive policies, funding mechanisms, and a conducive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship.”

    Prof. Kolade drew the curtain on his insightful lecture by recommending what he called UNIVERSITY TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER UNITS as pivotal to realizing a University’s dream of massive academic entrepreneurship. On this germane idea, he said University technology transfer units are pivotal in navigating the complex journey from discovery to market, focusing primarily on knowledge commercialization. He spoke extensively on six most important practical functions of the university technology transfer units citing specifics on how they achieve their goals. His words: “
    Patenting and Licensing
    How: Evaluate the commercial viability of inventions, secure intellectual property rights through patent filings, and negotiate licensing agreements with companies interested in bringing the technology to market
    Commercialization Support
    How: Provide expertise and resources to help researchers turn innovations into commercially viable products. This often involves developing prototypes, conducting market analysis, and identifying potential commercial partners.
    Startup Formation
    How: Offer incubation services, funding opportunities, and mentorship to faculty and students interested in starting businesses based on university research. This includes guidance on business plan development and access to investor networks.

    Industry Partnerships
    How: Facilitate collaborations with industry leaders to enhance technology development and commercialization. This includes structuring partnership agreements, coordinating joint research initiatives, and managing co-development projects.

    Funding Acquisition
    How: Assist researchers in identifying and applying for commercialization funds, including government grants, venture capital, and angel investments specifically earmarked for translating research into products.

    Educational Workshops and Seminars
    How: Organize and deliver training sessions on intellectual property rights, entrepreneurship, and commercialization strategies to equip researchers with the necessary skills to navigate the business aspects of innovation.
    By focusing on these functions, university technology transfer units play a critical role in ensuring that valuable knowledge created within academic institutions can be effectively commercialized, leading to new innovations that drive economic growth and societal benefit.”

    While appreciating Prof. Kolade for giving FUOYE scholars the needed tips to transform the great citadel of learning into an academic entrepreneurship hub, Prof. Fasina assured that his administration would further strengthen the capacity of the university to realize the dream of becoming a truly entrepreneurship hub by taking into consideration the tips highlighted by the Sheffield Business School don, and implement them to achieve the goals.
    The FUOYE webinar series is being organized by the Directorate of Research, Innovation and Linkages Programmes, (DRILP)with the Director as Prof. Olayide Lawal.

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