HISTORY MADE AS THE UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA NSUKKA JUMPSTARTS THE FIRST UNIVERSITY-EMBEDDED SCIENCE PARK IN WEST AFRICA- LION SCIENCE PARK
University of Nigeria, Nsukka makes history again. Lion Science Park, the first university-based science park in Nigeria held her maiden board meeting on the 17th of July, 2018 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka campus. The Board membership is predicated on the triple helix concept and thus has representatives from the public sector, private sector and the academia. The Vice Chancellor, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Professor Benjamin Ozumba has brought to fruition the many innovative ideas he conceived since the last quarter of the year 2016. A major mandate of the University of Nigeria and other higher institutions/research resource centers is to provide the knowledge backbone for industry, commerce and society. This mandate has become even more urgent especially in view of the current global emphasis on the need for a progressive paradigm shift to innovation-driven and knowledge-based economy. It is in pursuit of this mandate that the University of Nigeria established the first university-based Science Park in Nigeria (the Lion Science Park) with advisory support from Ideon Science and Lundavision both in Sweden. The Lion Science Park (LSP) is expected to encourage regional, national and international scientific Research and Development (R&D) initiatives by supporting alliance and interaction amongst academia, industry and government. It is expected to create strategic synergies with private, public and institutional research institutes/centers seeking to optimize their R&D activities by collaborating with researchers, research groups and research institutes in Nsukka, Enugu and Ituku-Ozalla campuses of the University. The Science Park is designed as an innovation hub, an economic transformation initiative and a sustainable development project in line with the United Nations SDG 17. The Park will provide graduates with direct and unhindered access to specialized innovative infrastructure of the highest standard, exposing them to an outstanding training opportunity for applied scientific innovation and entrepreneurial skills. The Vice Chancellor, Professor Benjamin Ozumba stated that “Innovation in UNN has come to stay. Within one year, a lot has happened in the innovation space in this university: the first fully-fledged university-based technology incubator, Roar Nigeria, is up and running and already incubating startups; the Lion Laptop Assembly Plant (Lion Technologies) is producing affordable and high spec laptops; the Lion Science Park already has Tenant companies; Over 215 Research groups in the University are ready to deliver impactful research solutions to companies. We are building a world class science park; we currently have a temporary building and planning to develop the 50 hectares of land for the permanent site of the Lion Science Park” Professor Kenneth Ofokansi, Director, International Collaborations for the University also added that “the first international workshop on Science Park and innovation was held in February 20-23rd, 2018 at the UNN which was themed Science Park and Innovation Ecosystem for National Development (SPIEN4ND). The workshop recorded an impressive international participation. The Honorable Minister for Science and Technology, His Excellency, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu also graced the workshop as a special guest of honour. The immediate result from the conference was the delegation of the ten Directors-General of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to UNN in March 2018 on a fact-finding mission and to explore areas of possible collaboration” To ensure synergy and sustainability, the Lion Science Park Board membership comprises top representatives of the government’s Ministry of Science and Technology, top industry players from the private sector and seasoned professors from the academia. The Lion Science Park Board practically demonstrates the triple helix model. The board members express enthusiasm: Engr. (Dr.) Emeka Okwuosa, the 1st Vice Chairman of the Board said “I am happy that this is happening in Nigeria. This is what we need at this time; providing high quality research output for home-grown solutions to the problems of industries and businesses in Nigeria. I am pleased to be part of such an economic transformation initiative geared towards capacity building and national development which Oilserv Group is known for. We shall continue to support this noble cause for the efficient and effective actualization and commercialization of the project''. “First it was the West Africa’s first University-embedded technology Hub and now it’s Africa’s first university-led science park at the University of Nigeria. This landmark is laudable and shows that Lion Science Park at UNN is truly the home for Innovation” stated Engr. Charles Emembolu” Mr. Emeka Ugwuoju, the 2nd Vice Chairman of the Board said “I am very excited about the Lion Science Park, where the academia meets the private sector for collaborative effort for the rapid industrialization of Nigeria”. “Being in the innovation business for 35 years in Sweden, the speed of what’s happening now with Lion Science Park is impressive. I am proud to be a board member of this crucial thing happening in Nigeria” said Dr. Sven-Thore Holm, the founder of Ideon Science Park, Sweden. “It was a successful meeting, with very high expectations for the Science, Technology and Innovation System in Nigeria. What I saw at Roar Nigeria Incubator only reminds me of what I saw in Shanghai recently” said Mr. Anpe Fut, a board member representing the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. “This is a revolution for the future, Roar Nigeria Technology Incubator already has 12 startups working on great ideas across sectors and a lot more applications for our incubation program are received daily. It should be pointed out that Lion Science Park is already globally recognized as a member of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) and also has tenant companies such Huawei Technologies: Huawei Authorised Information and Network Academy (HAINA) and Mirai Denchi. HAINA trains certified candidates on Huawei Technologies and so far, a number of students and staff of the university are already certified through this program” said Chinwe Okoli, the manager of Lion Science Park.