The Federal University of Technology, Akure has held its first ever Distinguished Lecture as part of the global positioning of the institution. The lecture, which was organized by the International Strategy Office of the University, was delivered by Kufre Ekanem, a PR/Marketing practitioner and Corporate Affairs Adviser of Nigerian Breweries Plc.
In his one hour lecture, Ekanem posited that the competiveness, productivity, growth and reputation of Nigeria in the comity of nations will be tremendously accelerated if we followed the proven track and ensured the upscaling of collaboration and joint-impact between the academia and industry. Speaking on the topic “Global Perspectives on Collaborations & Partnerships between Universities and Industry” Ekanem, a culture advocate stated that “other countries have worked hard to encourage and support knowledge exchange linkages between academia and industries for decades, in order to strengthen global economic competitiveness by building a “knowledge economy” capability. By ensuring strong academia-industry linkage, industrialization has the potential to usher in innovation in the country and help us catch up.”
In the course of the lecture, Ekanem shared an advisory framework for university-industry interactions, types and priorities of industry-university partnerships, best practices for University-Industry collaborations and partnerships; elucidated the opportunities available with existing international organizations or associations, highlighted 3 successful cases of industry-university partnership in Nigeria as sign post to possibilities. He also delved into the modifying role of government for the sustainability and propriety of the selected collaborations. Utilizing the internationally recognized Triple Helix model, Ekanem further canvassed for understanding entrepreneurship, the changing dynamics of universities, innovation, socio-economic development and relations between the trio of university-industry-government to evolve an integrated knowledge economy in Nigeria.
In his opening comments, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Fuwape stated that the essence of the Distinguished Lecture series is to build up the exchange of ideas as part of the current global positioning of the institution which is already the premier university of technology in Nigeria in line with its motto of technology for self-reliance. Introducing the lecturer and the theme, Prof. Tom Ofuya, Director of the International Strategy Office expressed his hope that the session will spark a new era in collaboration between FUTA and other Nigerian universities on the one hand and discerning industry operators to bring positive impact to the society.
Chairman at the event, a seasoned human resource management professional and Executive Director, NetConstruct Nigeria, Mr. Abiola Popoola, emphasized the importance of collaboration between the University and Industry for national development. According to him, the time for such lecture and topic is apt so as to ensure effective collaboration between the town and the gown. He encouraged students of FUTA to make the best use of what they learned at the lecture and described Ekanem as someone who always walks his talk. “Kufre is not just a talker. He has lived his life in the industry. He understands collaborations” he said.
In his concluding remarks, Ekanem clarified that the type of collaboration being discussed is distinct from one sided philanthropy or CSR and also more beneficial than short term infrastructural projects. “The common focus of the collaborating entities must be on impact for society and aligned with the needs and purpose of both academia and industry. We may be late in starting or we may have flagged in recent years but it is critical to move fast and together in this globally proven direction.”