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Stimulating Innovation Entrepreneurship in Kenyan Universities and Public Research Institutes: Is performance-based Research Funding Model the Answer?

Scinnovent Policy Brief

Bolo, M   Osir, E   Rugutt, M   Desai, K

April 2015

The Scinnovent Centre, Nairobi, Kenya   www.researchgate.net

In a recent study, Bolo et al (2015) have analysed the contribution of Kenyan Universities and Public Research Institutes to Industrial Property Rights applications and grants for the period 1990 – 2013 from the database of the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI). The analysis covers patents, utility models and industrial designs by individual universities and public research institutes as well as those filed and/or granted in partnerships with other actors.

The study shows that contrary to the popular expectation that universities and public research institutes are the engines that will drive Kenya’s transition to the knowledge-based economy and steer the rapid transition to middle income status espoused in the country’s Vision 2030, the performance of these universities and public research institutes is dismal and doesn’t inspire the confidence assumed in the Vision 2030 and the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy (2008). The Universities and Public Research Institutes have been outperformed in every IP segment by the private sector and individual inventors.

Based on this evidence, the study has recommended (i) competitive ranking of universities (through a criterion that accounts for all the three missions i.e. teaching, research, and innovation/entrepreneurship) and (ii) instituting a performance-based research funding (PBRF) model as a means of stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship.

This policy brief explores the experiences of other countries and explains how such a funding model may be implemented in Kenya. It sets out the rationale for such a funding model, highlights its merits and demerits, assesses the impacts and explores whether such a system fits within Kenya’s context. It concludes that current university ranking based on Webometrics and Performance Contracting in the Civil Service provide useful lessons and experiences, that should be modified and improved towards a performance-based research funding model for universities and public research institutes.