We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

Many of Sub-Saharan Africa's health research institutions are researching but not commercialising products and services that could impact lives or generate profits, say Ken Simiyu, Abdallah S.Daar and Peter A. Singer.

These 'stagnant technologies' — including traditional plant products, new drug molecules, diagnostics and vaccines — remain undeveloped because of a lack of scientific equipment or funding to carry out clinical trials.

The authors visited 23 academic and health research institutes to find out why this is happening.

They found that barriers to developing validated commercial products lie, mainly, in the cultural mindset of scientists and policymakers.

Academic researchers are measured by publications — not economic impact or lives saved, say the authors. A lack of innovation funds, similar to the millennium fund in Uganda, as well as poor government and institutional policies are to blame.

Initiatives to tackle the problem include the Life Sciences Convergence Innovation Centers, which aim to address the challenge by bringing together science, business and private investors.

But Simiyu, Daar and Singer argue that what is clearly needed is a venture capital fund to inject cash into stagnant ideas. The next big step in global health, they say, is to unlock these technologies to create new opportunities to provide a pathway to prosperity, jobs and better health.

Link to full article in Science


Science, 330, 1483 (2010)