12 July 2017

New Centre for Global Eco-innovation offers a “university based Silicon Valley model” to facilitate collaboration between academia and industry in West Africa

A delegation from Lancaster University joined Nigerian researchers, policy makers and business leaders to launch Africa’s first Centre for Global Eco-innovation at the University of Benin.

The Nigerian Centre - which aims to link academic researchers with businesses to help drive environmentally sustainable, equitable economic growth - was inspired by the award winning Centre for Global Eco-innovation (CGE), based at the Lancaster Environment Centre.

The partnership has grown from several years collaboration with the University of Benin in which academic-industry engagement has been a strong focus. Lancaster has hosted two groups of Commonwealth Professional Fellows to learn specifically about the UK eco-innovation model, which is being adapted to work within a West African context.

They aim to replicate some key features including locating small and medium sized environmental enterprises within the University, and using university research expertise to help businesses to develop products, services and processes which reduce environmental impact and increase the efficient use of resources.

A focus on universities as anchors for business growth will help boost the Nigerian economy, provide solutions to some of Nigeria’s key environmental problems and help the research students involved acquire the skills for employment  , a major concern in West Africa where graduate unemployment is high.

“The CGE Nigeria launch hallmarks the beginning of a new era in collaborative research for Socio-economic impact in Africa’  said Professor Lawrence I.N. Ezemonye, Chairman and Coordinator of the new CGE Nigeria.

“It is a tangible deliverable of the existing partnership between University of Benin and Lancaster University, and has now provided a university based Silicon Valley model for industry–academic interface.”

“The launch of CGE-Nigeria has opened up open new portals for interdisciplinary research in the University of Benin”, said Dr Isioma Tongo, Research and Development Lead, at CGE Nigeria.
“CGE Nigeria is the first international partnership in what will become a global alliance of ecoinnovation hubs - a powerful network  that can share knowledge and facilities that will underpin sustainable equitable growth,’  said Dr Ruth Alcock, the Head of Enterprise and Business Partnerships in the Lancaster Environment Centre.

‘The decision to launch CGE Nigeria was strategic and appropriate bearing in mind the attendant issues of unemployment and unemployability facing the African continent. This move has the potential to transform the green economy space in Nigeria’, said Dr Akanimo Odon, Africa Strategy Advisor at the Lancaster Environment Centre.

CGE Nigeria will continue to work closely with its UK counterpart to roll out a roadmap to support eco-innovation across West Africa, and to develop joint projects including those supported by the Research Councils UK Global Challenges Research Fund.