On the Third day of the Trip to Mali;
ICT Park’s President and the Accompanying Delegation Visited Mali’s University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies
At the start of this meeting, Mr. Yacoba Dao, the President of Mali’s University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies, welcomed the Iranian delegation: "Our University is mainly a technical and engineering university and is considered to be one of the oldest universities in Mali," he said.
"Our university includes four faculties, namely: Science and Technology, Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Medicine, and Pharmacy. The Faculty of Science and Technology, which will soon be transferred to Kabala, accepts students up to the postgraduate degree. Cisco certifications are also awarded to the graduates in this university. Some graduates of this university travel to other countries to continue their studies at Cisco Academy. We are also a member of the African Virtual University, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya. There are about 14,000 students and 668 lecturers in this university. The Faculty of Science and Technology has 20 official lecturers and 57 sessional lecturers and 9000 students, too," the President of Mali’s University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies continued.
"In general, not much budget is allocated to the research sector in our country, but fortunately, the young Malian researchers win many prizes by participating in international competitions and use the money they have won to develop science in our country. European Union countries and the United States of America are among the organizers of these competitions," the president of Mali’s University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies added.
"Our goal is to train students so that they can meet the economic needs of Malian companies. Another one of our programs concerns the development of cooperation between the private and public sectors, which we hope to achieve as soon as possible with your cooperation," Mr. Yacob Dao noted, enumerating the goals and future plans of this university.
The president of Mali's University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies, referring to the limited experience of this university in establishing technology companies which has been conducted by recent graduates of this university, requested that ICT Park shares its experiences in establishing and launching university startups with this university.
Later, Dr. Mohammad Jafar Sadigh Damghanizadeh, the Advisor to the Minister and the President of ICT Park, mentioned that one of the goals of their trip to Mali is to set up an innovation center with the cooperation of this country's Ministry of Science: "Today, universities started to move towards third-generation universities, which are known as entrepreneurial universities. In first-generation universities, which are only responsible for education, one can only find educational environments, but in a third-generation university, in addition to education, students are provided facilities to set up businesses based on their educations and to establish their own companies after graduation. This way, universities will play a significant role in the economic development of the society," he said.
While enumerating the characteristics of a standard innovation center, the Advisor to the Minister and the President of the Park mentioned the role of ICT Park in the establishment of this center for Mali; "An innovation center requires space and a defined model of operation, which we will design for you. Training of the required human resources is our responsibility too. The innovation centers will mainly collaborate with technology, informatics and applied science faculties. Also, the main researchers are the professors and students who conduct research on a specific topic. It should be noted that these studies should not be limited to scientific reasons, but should be conducted with the aim of reaching a product that has the potential of entering the market," he added.
"An innovation center, on a yearly basis, accepts a number of cores according to its capacity. What determine this capacity is not the space they have at their disposal; the real element that determines this capacity is their ability to finance each core during the time of its development. Typically, innovation centers have significant economic impacts on both the community and the university. Today, in major universities in the world such as MIT in the United States, up to 40% of the university's budget is provided by the income that these companies provide for the university," he continued.
“Last year, the supreme leader of Iran advised the government to pay attention to the creation of knowledge-based companies. However, it should be noted that establishing knowledge-intensive companies is very difficult. For example, in the Isfahan Science & Technology Town, which is the first science park in Iran, 600 companies have been established in the last 20 years, which is remarkable. We can share our experience in this field with Mali and especially with your university," Dr. Sadigh noted at the end of his speech.
Further, Dr. Abbas Ghanbari Bagestan, the Consulter for ICT Park Communication and International Affairs, mentioned the difference between a university and a science park in improving the students' skills and Iran's experience in setting up a university science park: "If you visit ICT Park in person, you can witness the process of an idea turning into a product closely. In universities, students only accumulate and memorize theories and information, but in science parks, students acquire skills that can help them turn their ideas into products and sell them. Defining these projects and making them operational is more of a scientific and software-related process," he said.
"Turning into third-generation universities requires the design and development of a set of software processes and mechanisms that require the special attention of university officials. In other words, simply allocating a place is not enough, rather, students should get acquainted with creative skills and innovation in their training, and then the university provides the opportunity for their talents to flourish by providing relevant facilities," Dr. Ghanbari added.
"ICT Park is ready to share its experiences regarding these processes and mechanisms with Mali’s University of Sciences, Techniques and Technologies. ICT Park can also hold many of the necessary training courses online for Malian academics if needed," he reminded.
It is worth mentioning that, ICT Park’s delegation has already met with the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Minister of Communications, Digital Economy, and State Modernization, and Mali’s President of the National Center for Scientific Research and Technology and visited the Kabala University Complex in Bamako.