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Learning from those Pushing the Boundaries and Reaping the Benefits of Science and Innovation Policy

Every so often, we are lucky enough to see the full spectrum of a challenge—from cutting edge research to glowing accounts of positive outcomes.  As September drew to a close, GKI Chief Operating Officer Sara Farley had just such an experience with science and innovation policy. Sara traveled to Atlanta for the annual Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy organized by the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech, where brilliant researchers presented on and tackled gnarly challenges in science and innovation policy; and later to Kennesaw State University (KSU), where the university had the honor of hosting Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama as the highpoint of the its “Year of Ghana.”

Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy:  With a rigorous, academic approach to science and innovation policy, the Atlanta Conference draws hundreds of researchers from across the globe.  Leading thinkers in the field of innovation systems such as Charles Edquist, founding director of the Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy at Lund University, were in attendance and actively pushing the boundaries of the discipline, particularly in areas like innovation based in the informal sector.  Alongside these luminaries, Sara presented on how the LINK program transforms network theory into practice. Using LINK Rwanda as a case study on the applied methodologies in tackling the “potato taste” defect in Rwandan coffee beans, she discussed how theories of new innovations and modalities for monitoring and evaluation from academic literature can be put to practice on the ground. The Atlanta conference also highlighted the role that Big Data and “Decision Theaters” can play in collaborative innovation.

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Kennesaw State: At Kennesaw State, President Mahama was welcomed by a vibrant, open, and eager academic community, and one keen to be increasingly globally engaged.  With this group, President Mahama shared his strong belief in the importance of science and technology education for improving livelihoods and promoting a sustainable, advanced economy. President Mahama and Ghanaian ambassador to the United States, Daniel Ohene Agyekum, affirmed their stance that networks have a critical role to play in translating research from the lab to impact in the field, especially in the agricultural sector, by bridging science and solutions to create jobs.Thanks in part to President Mahama’s keen interest in science and innovation in agriculture as a tool for catalyzing developmen, Ghana received the 2013 Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) award for excellence in Agricultural Innovation.

GKI is thrilled to have these types of windows into the challenges and benefits of science, technology and innovation. We say: keep ‘em coming!

Contributor: Lucky Niko

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