Youth, Science and Indigenous Knowledge Systems - SANBio Winter School

Group photo taken during the Winter School

On 31 July – 3 August 2017, NEPAD SANBio (Southern Africa Network for Biosciences), with the support of the BioFISA II Programme (a Finnish-Southern African Partnership Programme to Strengthen NEPAD SANBio), and the Botswana Innovation Hub held the SANBio Winter School on Indigenous Knowledge Systems Commercialisation in Gaborone, Botswana. The Winter School exemplified the strategic partnership between SANBio and Botswana Innovation Hub in promoting the development of bioscience related innovations in the SADC region and more specifically for Botswana, with a focus on Indigenous Knowledge Systems.

The majority of the 30 Winter School participants were tertiary level students and young professionals in the biosciences sector from 11 SADC countries.

The Winter School covered topics on bioprospecting of medicinal plants, agroprocessing of indigenous foods and nutritional products, intellectual property rights and access and benefit sharing in relation to indigenous knowledge systems, as well as approaches to the commercialisation of bioinnovations.

Presentations were given by experts and entrepreneurs and the participants engaged in practical group work to develop their own concrete IKS-based business ideas to develop products and services for commercialisation.

The winter school participants gained an understanding of different aspects and processes involved in developing and commercialising IKS innovations, learned to use the Business Model Canvas as a tool to formulate their businesses.

“I never realized the greatness of young scientists from SADC until SANBio landed me this opportunity this week. I feel a very changed person in the areas of agroprocessing, lKS, intellectual properties and commercialisation. It is amazing how young scientists have been sharing ideas here, ranging from concept development to implementation. Meeting professors from all over the region and interacting with them was a blessing! I would therefore urge all friends and relatives in Malawi to join this network – it offers good platforms for young people like you and me to learn and share experiences,” Paul Zauzau Chunga from Malawi said.

The final day of the Winter School also saw the successful pilot launch of the 10 000 Bioinnovation Ideas campaign, where the participants brainstormed and gathered ideas of innovations deriving from biosciences that could be commercialised. The campaign will be rolled out to SANBio member states, with the initiative spearheaded by the SANBio Student Ambassadors.

 “This was a unique and transforming experience, which offered me exposure to a network of committed and motivated people, mostly youth from different countries of Southern Africa who are active in the area of bio‎sciences and also have interest in Indigenous Knowledge. As a result of the training, I hope every participant will take the opportunity to promote and protect IKS in each of their countries, and share the benefits with the local communities,” Jubia Domingos Uchavo from Mozambique also piped in.

Encouraged by the success of the Winter School, SANBio looks forward to arranging more similar events with its partner organisations in the years to follow.

If you’d like to find out more about Intellectual Property Rights in relation to IKS, we would highly recommend this practical guide from WIPO.

Click for the Winter School image album.