Recirculating ideas and partnerships for innovation

BY: Caroline Boateng
Recirculate is a partnership working to help Africa's water crisis
Recirculate is a partnership working to help Africa's water crisis

Recirculate, an international partnership of scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs in eco-innovation in Africa has been formally launched in Accra, Ghana.

The formal launch on September 20, 2018, continues a rich partnership of ideas and innovation in water and sanitation solutions which began about a year ago.

Recirculate was started by the Lancaster University, London, with Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Lancaster University, Ghana and the University of Benin, Nigeria.

Partnerships and funding

These initial members extended their reach and welcomed into their fold the Botswana International University of Science and Technology, the African Technology Policy Studies Network in Kenya, The National Commission for Science and Technology in Malawi and the Copperbelt University in Zambia.

Recirculate has the support of the government of the United Kingdom (UK), which is sponsoring the programme with an amount of £6.8 million through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

The GCRF, a five-year £1.5 billion fund, is a critical part of the UK Aid strategy, which is, tackling global challenges in the national interest.

“Recirculate is about building cultural intelligence, cultural workings across nationalities and across disciplines.

 We are not only learning about national cultures but also disciplinary cultures and building capacity in the area of knowledge sharing,” the Deputy Provost of Lancaster University Ghana, Dr Cynthia Forson said at the launch after opening remarks from the Director of Recirculate Professor Nigel Paul.

Global challenges, national interests

As the name suggests, Recirculate was conceived as a self-sustaining effort, constantly redistributing knowledge, innovation and standards across disciplines and generations for relevant solutions in water and sanitation.

Thus, African researchers, closely engaging each other and their counterparts in the UK, work in and for their communities to develop innovative and usable services and products in water and sanitation.

Recirculate, therefore, seeks to drive eco-innovation in Africa through partnerships, sterling research, capacity-building and knowledge transfer for a "safe circular water economy."

“The reason why we (Lancaster University) are so involved in this is to bring about sustainable change through communities of scientists and end users, with scientists taking what they do and making it practical . . . , Professor Nigel Lockett of Lancaster University London stated.

Lancaster's eco-innovation

The thrust of eco-innovation, an award winning model developed by Lancaster University, is coupling sustainable development with green economies.

Thus, the solution-focused research of Recirculate facilitates cooperation for the mastery over the skills and cultural knowledge of the diverse ways in which water sustains communities on the continent "from sewage disposal to energy disposal and water used in food production,” as stated in a brochure on Recirculate.

Interdisciplinary research

Recirculate also uses research that is interdisciplinary and co-designed.

 Thus, new approaches to enquiry that is relevant to end users are at the heart of the partnership.

Sterling scientific, social science and management research are combined to ensure that enduring results are useful to communities, and have the potential of facilitating entrepreneurial advantages in communities.

Recirculate, also works across partners and disciplines and with business and other research users, for the appropriate innovative solutions that are safe and sustainable in communities.

“Recirculate presents a unique opportunity for the success of some policies by the government of Ghana in employment creation and food sufficiency,” the Director of the CSIR, Dr Boateng Agyenim also stated at the launch.

Sharing best practice

What is more endearing about the partnership is the substantial training at Lancaster University, Ghana and the residency opportunities at the Lancaster University, London.

Thus, the partnership involves faculty of partner educational institutions sharing ideas on solutions, innovation and standards, as well as research that permit them to pass on the knowledge gained to students and young researchers.

Thus, for Professor Roger Pickup of the Lancaster University, London, “quality and standards undergirding the partnerships, with the testing capabilities of institutions such as CSIR, are critical to the success of the programme.”

Partnerships

This partnership has also birthed other enduring partnerships with the media.

Thus, the CNBC and Forbes magazine were in Ghana to witness the launch and cover the discussions and engagements on the innovative application of technology to solving challenges in the water and sanitation sector.

The launch also had a second panel discussion on “Research collaboration as a driver for change”. There were discussions on 12 key topics, including: “Driving sustainable development through knowledge exchange” and “Enhancing South-South Knowledge exchange”.

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