The Government of Rwanda has launched the Rwanda Innovation Endowment Fund (RIEF) to fund research and development in innovative market-oriented processes and products in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and One UN Rwanda.
According to a press release published on the UNECA website, Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s education minister told guests that the decision to create RIEF came from a “strong belief that investing in research and development in innovation is a national imperative.”
“Rwanda Innovation Endowment Fund provides the opportunity for Researchers, Entrepreneurs and Business people to work together in order to fully contribute to the sustainable socio-economic development of Rwanda,” said Biruta.
The RIEF funding priorities will initially focus on the three priority areas, namely agriculture, manufacturing and ICT.
In his address, Antonio Pedro, UNECA’s Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa director noted that RIEF would support both enterprising individuals and research and development (R&D) centres.
“The RIEF will bring individual’s and organization’s outputs to the market. The fund is intended to fund joint projects between researchers and entrepreneurs in order to produce locally applicable innovative technologies to spur socio-economic transformation of the country” he said.
“Supporting innovators, protecting their knowledge and commercializing their innovations is the essence of the RIEF”, said Dr Aida Opoku-Mensah, UNECA’s ICT, Science & Technology division director at the ceremony where she delivered a presentation on the Vision for African Innovation Endowment Fund, a framework that was used by Rwanda to create the RIEF.
The establishment of the Fund was one of the recommendations at a January 2010 national workshop, convened by the Government of Rwanda and supported by the One UN with the theme: “Unlocking the Potential of Science, Technology and Innovation to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in Rwanda” following which the One UN formally agreed to support the establishment of the RIEF with the lead UN Agency being UNECA supported by UNESCO and UNDP.
Rwanda’s ministry of education subsequently carried consultations to examine how science and technology can help Rwanda develop. There was an agreement that the promotion of a system of innovation in Rwanda would generate knowledge, encourage basic and applied research and international cooperation in addressing local needs and contributing to solving socio-economic problems to the national context.
Prospective applicants to the fund are encouraged to apply online through the Ministry of Education website. The RIEF will be accessed via a 2-stage application process based clearly set out eligibility criteria.