Theme: Fostering Stronger Collaboration Between Industry and Academia to Promote Tech Entrepreneurship
The technology space has seen rapid growth in tech entrepreneurship in Africa. With a surge in tech startups in Ghana in recent years, many entrepreneurs are looking to solve local problems using technology. Despite some challenges faced such as limited access to funding and resources, lack of infrastructure, and limited access to markets, many Ghanaian tech entrepreneurs have been successful in building innovative businesses that have had a positive impact on their communities.
Fostering stronger collaboration between industry and academia is essential to promote tech entrepreneurship. Industry and academia have different strengths and weaknesses that can complement each other. Academia has the expertise and resources to conduct research and develop new technologies, while industry has the experience and resources to bring these technologies to market. By working together, industry and academia can create a more supportive environment for tech entrepreneurs. This collaboration can take many forms, such as joint research projects, internships, mentorship programs, and technology transfer agreements. By fostering stronger collaboration between industry and academia, we can create a more vibrant tech ecosystem that supports innovation and entrepreneurship. Thus, we bring to you the Tech Entrepreneurs Forum 2023, organized, and branded as a service product of the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH), and supported by its partner AFOS Foundation.
Introduction and Background
DigiCAP.gh is an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project by the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through sequa gGmbH, and implemented by AFOS, the German Foundation for Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation. As part of the project’s objectives, ICT-related capacity-building programs are organized in partnership with the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) and its partners from the ICT industry in Ghana and beyond. These programs target employment opportunities for young people and how to unlock sustainable jobs in relevant emerging technologies knowledge areas. Several initiatives have been rolled out to realize this objective. Notable among them are the Industry-Academia Tech Dialogue (INDAC-TED), a quarterly symposium, which is a platform to discuss issues of skills development and employment. Another major one is the Tech Job Fair which has become an annual event of matchmaking between job seekers and employers in the technology field. The third initiative to help address the unemployment issue for the youth is the Tech Entrepreneurs Forum (TEF). The forum is designed to give young tech entrepreneurs, start-ups, freelancers, and tech consultants (Gig workers) the platform to showcase their innovations, skills, and concept to business leaders and entrepreneurs. This year’s Tech Entrepreneurs Forum has been extended into a month celebration in June 2023, dubbed “Tech Entrepreneurship Month” with the theme: “Fostering stronger collaboration between Industry and Academia to promote tech entrepreneurship”. Activities are scheduled for 6 separate days, starting on 5th June till 28th June.
DigiCAP Junior Consultants (JCs)
Selected DigiCAP project beneficiaries that excelled in the independent consultants training program called “Junior Consultants (JCs)” shall be given several platforms throughout the month’s celebration to demonstrate their acquired skills. They would show how their tools and data analytics techniques can help businesses improve business efficiency and profitability. Industry experts in Data Analytics and Business Intelligence shall be invited to share knowledge with the JCs and interact with them to help them connect to other businesses that would need their skills.
JCs provide consultancy services to Small and Medium Enterprises. They have Data Analytics & Business Intelligence backgrounds, are hand-picked Alumni from the DigiCAP ICT skills training program, and are passionate learners, with in-demand ICT and personal skills such as effective client communication required to solve business problems.
Tech Entrepreneurship Month is designed to help students, graduates, faculty, and other skills development technical advisors to connect with industry experts in data analytics, business intelligence, and other technology areas to share knowledge. The partners from academia will get first-hand insight into the operations of businesses. Industry experts would also use the various interactive programs to share their operational or research challenges with academia. To understand the modern tools such as software available to harvest data of an organization, process it, and interpret it for business intelligence, the Tech Entrepreneurs Forum (TEF) will bring together technology entrepreneurs in the ecosystem. Tech Entrepreneurs Forum is an event initiated by the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana to provide a networking platform for corporate organizations, SMEs, independent consultants, and start-ups to exhibit their products and/or services. The Industry-Academia Tech Dialogue (INDAC-TED) shall help academia engage the industry in a healthy dialogue on how to bridge the gap and trained more skilled human resources in this area of IT.
The events would also be used to outdoor the Junior Consultants to businesses and solicit internship opportunities so they can put their skills into practical use in various companies.
Tech Entrepreneurship Month aims at bringing experts and businesses from diverse industries that produce and process data. Others are freelancers, DigiCap students/Junior Consultants, Digital Skills Technical advisors from Academia, IT hubs/parks, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) service providers, and remote IT services to help shape the conversations on opportunities in Data Analytics and Business Intelligence for technology entrepreneurs, businesses, and graduates.
Delivery of the Events
The Tech Entrepreneurship Month shall have parts delivered as virtual programs while others would be in-person and hybrid mode in Accra. As some industry partners, members of IIPGH, and partners of DigiCAP project are located across the country and some beyond the borders of Ghana, all in-person events shall be organized in a hybrid mode; physical and online connectivity via platforms such as Zoom, Facebook, or YouTube.
As we develop a systematic approach to technology entrepreneurship by matching organizational needs with promising technology seeds, aligning business and operating models, evaluating technology for readiness and market fit, positioning opportunities to secure funding and growth, and fostering stronger collaboration between industry and academia, the Tech Entrepreneurs Forum 2023, situates well and requires the needed participation by organizations and stakeholders to further promote tech entrepreneurship in Ghana.
In fostering collaborations, academia has access to innovative research facilities, equipment, and funding sources that can help them develop new technologies. They also have a deep understanding of the underlying science and engineering principles that are necessary for developing new technologies. The industry has access to distribution channels, marketing expertise, and funding sources that can help them commercialize new technologies. They also have a deep understanding of customer needs and preferences that can help them develop products that meet market demand.
Such collaborations also create internship opportunities and cooperative education programs: Internships and co-op programs can help students gain real-world experience while working on industry-sponsored research projects; Develop mentorship programs: Mentorship programs can help students and researchers learn from experienced professionals in the industry.
Together, industry and academia can create a more supportive environment for tech entrepreneurs.
The partnership project is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) within the framework of the Special Initiative “Decent Work for a Just Transition” via sequa gGmbH.
Author: Kafui Amanfu, Director of Operations, IIPGH.
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