Parfait Yongabo defended his thesis “Fostering Knowledge uptake in Emerging Innovation Systems: Enhancing Conditions for Innovation in Rwanda” on 7 October 2021. Below you can learn more about Parfait and his research, described in his own words.
It has been a long, challenging, and good learning journey. However, every journey has its end, so does my PhD journey, which ended on 07 October 2021. My PhD journey was a mix of academic and professional exposures that I am sure equipped me with valuable knowledge and skills. It has been my ambition to do a PhD, but I have to confess that Research Policy was not one of the areas that I envisaged. Not until I spent four years in Research Management at the University of Rwanda, I came to know that one can have a career in research management; and that there is a high need for skilled human resources in research and innovation management in many parts of the world, starting from the University of Rwanda. On this need, through the University of Rwanda–Sweden Program under the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the University of Rwanda decided to build human capital in this area. I was lucky and deserved to be among the first candidates to enroll for PhD studies in this area of research and innovation management – Research Policy, as part of that program. From my experience in research management in the Rwandan context and based on challenges in Rwanda for innovation development, I opted to write my thesis on Fostering Knowledge uptake in Emerging Innovation Systems: Enhancing Conditions for Innovation in Rwanda.
My thesis explores how efforts to foster knowledge uptake are organized to support innovation and development in emerging innovation systems. It focuses on the analysis of how building National Innovation Systems and associated policy initiatives can enable interactive learning for innovation and development in developing countries, Rwanda as a case. The thesis portrays the policy initiatives and institutional frameworks that have been introduced (so far) to foster knowledge production and its use which is aimed at addressing the needs and challenges that Rwandan society currently faces. From the Rwandan case, I argue that building efficient innovation systems and associated policy instruments to foster knowledge uptake should take into account contextual peculiarities, particularly research capacity, resources endowment, industrial capability (and development) and actors’ relations.
Findings and recommendations in my thesis are instrumental to both the scholar’s community and policymakers. The thesis provides insights on different aspects that need to be taken into account to formulate efficient policies and policy instruments that can boost the use of knowledge for economic growth in the context of developing countries. The exploration of the adoption of the NIS concept in the context of a developing country like Rwanda can inspire scholars in a similar context on how they can approach different issues in a more realistic and pragmatic way, depending on contextual realities. For the policymaking community, the thesis delivers a message that innovation policies and other supporting public policies should be evidence-based and inclusive for sustainable development. It also advances the idea that nothing happens instantly, the use of knowledge for socio-economic development is a long and complex process that might take time and require enough resources as well as strategic actions.
I contend that some of my recommendations can be realizable, and others need to be explored further for better implementation and impact. It is my hope that I will be able to continue my research and academic career so that I can contribute to this continuous and somehow rewarding process.