Here is why Kenya should spend more on public research organizations

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Here is why Kenya should spend more on public research organizations

“a number of countries possess quite sizeable public research organisations which explicitly focus on helping private firms to derive industrial applications and innovation from scientific knowledge – examples include TNO in the Netherlands, the RISE institutes in Sweden, VTT in Finland, and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany. The fact that these countries arguably also rank among the innovation leaders in Europe begs the question of the extent to which their success is to the result of investment in public applied research.” – Comin, D., Lichit, G., Pellens, M., & Schubert, T on Voxeu.

This has triggered my imaginations. I will conduct an analysis to find out how much is Kenya spending on applied research by public organizations other than universities.

There are numerous lessons Kenya can learn from the world’s largest public applied research institution – Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft of Germany. This institution has 24,500 employees on its payroll most of whom conduct research on all areas of science. As a result of this mega scale of operation, the organization generates 500 patents annually and engages in collaborations with private sector firms. The latter engagement leads to generation of additional revenue (averagely 600 million euro) per year which is one third of the total organization’s annual budget.

Lessons for Kenya

a) Kenya should offer incentives such as Research &Development tax credits to private R&D and

b) allocate sufficient resources towards basic research conducted in institutions of higher learning


On the benefits of research to private firms:

Applied research organisations such as Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft2 are capable of bridging the gap between basic scientific knowledge (falling into the domain of universities) and the development of new commercial applications (falling into the domain of firms). By bridging this gap, companies can have access to state-of-the-art technological knowledge that enables a knowledge-intensive/innovation strategy which leads to faster sales and productivity growth, as well as to more jobs for skilled workers. The establishment of, and investment in, applied research organisations could therefore form a central pillar of national and European innovation policy.- Voxeu blog

I hope this was useful.

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Geoffrey Kerosi is a prolific economics writer and an avid reader in economics, finance, business, politics and technology.

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