The National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) a State-Owned Enterprise established in terms of the Research, Science and Technology Act, 2004 (Act 23 of 2004) to provide for the promotion, coordination and development of Research Science, Technology and Innovation (RSTI) in Namibia. NCRST’s mandate is to further champion RSTI within Namibia as a significant driver/enabler for socio-economic development.
As part of this mandate, the NCRST has implemented several innovation support programmes targeting the support of local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including the Innovation Quick Cycle, Innovation Fostering Platform, Technology Stations Programme and National Innovation Challenge for Women. The NCRST also serves as the national focal coordinating agency to the international and regional innovation support programmes such as the Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS) and DEMOLA Namibia Initiative.
Demola Namibia Initiative
National Innovation Challenge for Women 2020
By definition, a Technology Transfer Office (TTO) is a unit within a higher education institution that is established to facilitate the commercialization of the university’s scientific and technical research output and findings for the benefit of the community.
The University of Namibia (UNAM) have a TTO called the center for Innovation and Development (CID) responsible for nurturing ideas into concepts which are later developed into full feasibility plans destined for incubation or technology licensing in some cases. Those innovations with potential for commercialization are further developed into prototypes which later launched and transferred to Inceptus (Pty) Ltd for commercialization.
In addition, UNAM also have the Multi-Disciplinary Research Centre (MRC) established to coordinate interdisciplinary basic research of the university. The MRC is championing research in three broad areas namely: 1) social sciences; 2) science technology and innovation and life sciences and environmental sustainability as well as the Sam Nujoma Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre (SANUMARC), the faculty based research initiatives also forms as and one of its mandate is to conduct applied research directed at addressing social and scientific challenges in national development priority areas of meeting the SDGs, Agenda 2063 and Namibia vision 2030 and NDP 5. Below are projects undertaken by SANUMARC.
SANUMARC, UNAM aquaponics
Desalination of sea water from SANUMARC
Desalination of sea water from SANUMARC
The Cimel Sunphotometer, SANUMARC
The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) has Innovation Design Lab, Fabrication Lab (FABLAB); Namibia Business Innovation Institute and the Centre for Entrepreneurial Development, which collectively drives the innovation agenda of the University. The University multi-disciplinary research efforts are supported through the Projects Services Unit to be transformed into the Research Support Directorate to expand their current grants management mandate to include elements such as research information management, research ethics and the development of researchers across the University. Specialized research Centres and Institutes comprise amongst others the Namibia Energy Institute and Namibia-German Centre for Logistics and soon to start (mid 2021) Integrated Water Resource Management- Graduate School Programme support through the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management. The work in these institutes, centres and platforms is supported by research conducted in academic departments and research clusters, namely: Digital Humanities, Sustainability, Health and Climate Change; Land, Livelihood and Housing; Indigenous Knowledge Systems; Transport and Logistics; Water, Energy and Food Nexus; and Natural Resources and Value Chain Stewardship.
In addition, some of the well-established research institutions in Namibia are:
- International University of Namibia (IUM): with a focus on Social Science and management sciences Research.
- Gobabeb Research and Training Centre: with a focus on ecological biodiversity and hyper-arid systems of the Namib Desert as well as local climate knowledge gaps.
- National Botanical Research Institute: with a focus on plant-related research and
- Institute for Public Policy Research: with a focus on social, political and economic issues that affect development in Namibia.
The NCRST is responsible for the development of the National Programme on Research, Science, Technology and Innovation (NPRSTI) which sets out the national direction for RSTI in Namibia. The NCRST also runs innovation challenges, such as the National Innovation Challenge for Women in which innovators are capacitated and encouraged to innovate within their businesses. Under the Innovation Quick Cycle within the Innovation Fostering Platform, The NCRST offers advisory services to SMEs and encourage them to research and innovate in order to enhance their competitive advantage.
The NCRST, as the SAIS 2 national focal point, also facilitates national SAIS activities together with SAIS 2 Project Management Office. With SAIS, the NCRST supports the growth of new businesses through strengthening innovation ecosystems and promotion of cross-border collaboration between innovation role-players in Southern Africa.
The NCRST received generous support from the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) with the objective to strengthen research and grant management practices. The Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI), a multi-funder initiative in Africa, also supports the NCRST to strengthen its capacities in supporting research and evidence-based policy making which will contribute to socio-economic development.
The adoption of the National Policy on Research, Science and Technology (NPRST) in 1999 and the enactment of the Research, Science and Technology (RST) Act of 2004 (Act no. 23 of 2004), signify the importance of effective application of scientific and technological skills for the production of goods and services to national development. The National Programme on Research, Science, Technology and Innovation (NPRSTI) is developed in terms of Section 18 of the RST Act with the aim of providing a comprehensive framework for actualizing Namibia’s Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) development aspirations. The NPRSTI is based on a shared vision of setting the national direction on STI and its application for the benefit of society.
The NPRSTI serves as implementation blueprint of the Namibian STI Policies. The NPRSTI’s core objectives and some of the initiatives have been integrated into the National Development Plans (NDPs). It lays out specific programmatic initiatives that will be rolled out and implemented through clustered projects. The NPRSTI is an overarching strategic articulation of specific initiatives that are deliberately focused on national priorities that are in the NDPs. The NPRSTI for STI is essentially ‘a toolbox’ for realizing the NDPs and Vision 2030.
In the past four years government funding to research and development declined, making it difficult to ensure that there is ongoing research and innovation activities which can provide solutions to the needs of the country and for research infrastructure development. Moreover, the lack of adequate funding hampers efforts to build capacity in research and innovation that is crucial for society.