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Research and Innovation Uptake Landscape in Rwanda: Analysis

2.2 Does STI Framework Matter?

Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) are important for supporting the devel-opment of technical skills that respond to community needs and economic growth demand. The integration of STI into development is mainly organized through STI programs, which need tools and organizational framework for their success. STI Poli-cies are among key facilitating tools that are likely to lead to development outcomes resulting from the use of scientific and technological knowledge. However, these policies tend to be generic, which in many cases might lead to less efficiency or unex-pected results. It is important to analyze how structures and working environment affect both the formation of those policies and their implementation and outcomes in a specific context (Havas2002). The importance of STI policies in supporting economic transformation can be observed in the case of the East Asian Tigers (Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea) (Hobday1995), where flexible policies allowed the development and adaptation of knowledge for the technological development which resulted into a remarkable economic performance.

The relevance and impact of STI policies are linked to policy goal setting and priority setting in line with the development goals. The focus of STI initiatives may differ from country to country depending on the development strategy and resources as well as operational conditions. This also can determine how STI policies are framed in different countries (Jacobsson and Bergek2006). In most cases, science policies are separated from technology policies as well as innovation policies. There is no clear cut between these policies, except the way policymakers approach them.

Science policies are generally aimed at promoting science in the education system and research institutions while technology policies focus on the development of technologies in areas influencing society’s development. Innovation policies typically consider the complexities of innovation processes and facilitate interactions among relevant institutions to ensure quality and socio-economic impact resulting from their relationships (Dodgson and Bessant 1996). In some other countries, research and innovation policies are combined, there are also possibilities of combining research, science, technology and innovation under the same umbrella as a policy. This explains the importance of understanding differences and major orientations of STI framework in individual countries in order to understand how they can contribute to orienting the integration of knowledge into the development process.

According to Ergas (1987) in his analysis of technology policies, countries with high investment in R&D typically define their policy objectives as “mission-oriented”

whereas countries with medium investment shape theirs as “diffusion oriented”; there are others which combine the two objectives, mostly New Industrializing Countries.

The policy objective defines the nature of innovation to be focused on and the actors of interest. Mission-oriented policies tend to promote radical innovations aimed at solving state problems whereas diffusion oriented policies favor incremental inno-vations aimed at addressing society problems through technology uptake at different levels and in different forms. The nature and level of impact of R&D initiatives are

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then based on policy objectives as well as the operational environment (Ergas1987;

Dodgson and Bessant 1996; Havas2002).

Taking the example of the United State of America, France and the United Kingdom as discussed by Ergas (1987) in his study of technology policies in these countries, clear differences in technology impact can be identified, although the policy objectives were the same across the three countries. The differences are based on approaches and structures (operational environment) in each country for imple-menting policies. Bureaucracy and centralization in the UK were at the origin of less effective technologies generated from R&D activities while the high level of autonomy and flexibility in France allowed technology to have a more relevant impact than in the other two countries. The USA had a high level of control in technology dissemination as the UK, but due to the wide market and resources in the USA, technologies have reached other socio-economic sectors beyond the mili-tary sector, which was a priority. From this, it can be observed that policies and institutional frameworks are of significant importance for having impactful R&D initiatives, although, external factors in the operational environment can influence their objectives as well.

With the case of Hungary during the late 1990s, instantaneous changes in struc-tures and institutions did not favor the development of STI policies, causing innova-tion systems to underperform. But after 2000 with STI policies adopinnova-tion and stabi-lization, R&D activities showed outstanding success and the use of technologies from these activities by industries increased; this led to a noticeable change in the economic performance of the nation (Havas2002). Appropriate policies can thus define the level of success for research and innovation in the economic transforma-tion to a certain extent. From these perspectives, it is clear that the STI organizatransforma-tional setting and policy framework are at the base of interactions that promote the use of scientific knowledge for development. Then, effective STI policies can play an important role in economic development by facilitating these interactions leading to industrial transformative development that improves the technological capabilities of firms with knowledge at the center of operations (Dodgson and Bessant 1996). STI policies support to socio-economic development as a facilitating tool may vary from one country to another depending on economic structures and working environment at a specific place. This explains the interest in exploring the STI framework (policy and organization) as a point of departure for developing efficient research and inno-vation uptake frameworks that can accelerate the use of knowledge for development in Rwanda.

3 Methodology

This study focuses on the Rwandan STI framework as a means for exploring the research and innovation uptake landscape, considering the patterns of policies, insti-tutions, capacity building and interactions. It uses mixed methods, including struc-tured review of existing documents, survey and secondary data mining. The review

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included scientific articles, scientific reports, official reports, programs and policy documents. Whereas for the survey, research managers at universities and public agencies, researchers and entrepreneurs were consulted categories. Secondary data were acquired from different databases in offices in charge of STI matters in Rwanda.

The survey included two series, the first round was conducted in April 2017, it was based on a set of generic questions sent online to 10 top managers in public agencies and universities. Seven persons over 10 contacted responded to the questions. The questions mainly focused on enablers for research and innovation uptake, stakeholders’ collaboration, synergies in research management and facilita-tion; and research infrastructures and capacity building, among others. Depending on the structure of each institution, I considered offices having technology transfer in their mandates. Respondents in government institutions and academic institu-tions were senior managers. For entrepreneurs, the Private Sector Federation was consulted as the overall umbrella for the business sector in Rwanda. Contacted insti-tutions include the University of Rwanda (UR), University of Kibungo (UNIK), National Industrial Research Development Agency (NIRDA), Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) and the Department of Science, Technology and Research in the Ministry of Education (DSTR, MINEDUC). After the first round of April 2017, follow up discussions were conducted in December 2017 with a semi-structured interview based on the feedback provided in the initial online consultation and follow up questions were related to policy and institutional framework as well as well collaboration among stakeholders. Follow up interviews lasted for 30 min to 1 h and all the 10 initially contacted stakeholders were included.

To complement the information from the literature and the survey, available data from databases and reports of recently completed studies related to R&D and STI in Rwanda and Africa at large were used. Data on higher education matters were obtained from the Rwandan Higher Education Council. Whereas, data on research capacity and skills demand were acquired from the National Research and Development Survey of 2015 as well as the Africa Capacity Report of 2017.

Collected information was organized and analyzed systematically in order to analyze the main components of the Rwandan research and innovation landscape, which is the main objective of this chapter. Survey data were arranged based on key predefined parameters in order to be able to display information in the form of diagrams and info-charts. Predefined parameters included the category of actors, perception on the interaction among actors (synergy), identified challenges and perceived enablers. For quantitative data, cross-tabulation was done for producing summary tables. Analyzed variables were the trend in time for capacity building in higher education (estimated using the number of graduates per level of education over time).

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4 Institutional and Policy Frameworks for Research and Innovation Management in Rwanda: A Systemic Review

Policies and institutions are among the potential components for setting organiza-tional systems to support the production and use of knowledge for society devel-opment. In the case of Rwanda, as a landlocked developing country with limited resources, more comprehensive policy and institutional frameworks that ensure synergies among actors for meeting the common development goals are impera-tive. However, the establishment of such frameworks requires a good understanding of the system setting as a point of departure. This section of the chapter elaborates on the STI policies setting and institutional arrangement in Rwanda as mean of high-lighting what exists and what would be the best recommendations to be considered in developing/adapting the needed comprehensive frameworks.

4.1 Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Policy