Photo: Chanette Hemdrup Jakobsen (International Staff Unit) with some of the PhD Visiting Fellows and Ariadni Zormpa (Research Assistant) discussing the role of ISU in facilitation of the study visit to AAU.
In August 2021, the 2020-21 cohort of AfricaLics PhD Visiting fellows visited the AAU campus in Aalborg. The main purpose of the visit was to facilitate face-to-face meetings between the PhD students, their AAU mentors and other researchers from Aalborg University to get feedback on their research on issues related to Innovation and Development. During their five months study stay in Denmark, the students have worked from the AAU campus in Copenhagen so this visit also gave them an opportunity to get an impression of Aalborg town and the main campus – and to meet some representatives from the university and the region.
On August 16th 2021, the PhD fellows participated in the launch of a new book exploring the capacity of the Danish innovation system to respond to key societal challenges including the green imperative of achieving growth with environmental sustainability and the need to adapt to new and possibly disruptive changes in technology. The book is edited by members of the research group called Innovation, Knowledge and Economic Dynamics (IKE). This group has over the years played a key role in promoting innovation systems research in different parts of the world through research and research capacity building (see www.globelics.org) -and also played a key role in the establishment of AfricaLics.
On August 17th the visiting fellows presented their own research at a hybrid seminar with AAU mentors, members of the IKE group and other scholars participating physically and home supervisors and departmental staff from University of Ilorin (Nigeria), University of Cape Town (South Africa), Mzumbe University (Tanzania) and University of Zambia participating online. Due to the pandemic, it has not been possible this year to realise a visit by home supervisors to meet their students while in Denmark. Instead, virtual interactions have been helpful in coordinating views and inputs from home supervisors and mentors to the students. In addition, the PhD fellows had the opportunity to meet with the Head of the Department of Politics and Society, Michael Baggesen Klitgaard to discuss issues related to their work, and with Chanette Hemdrup Jakobsen from the International Staff Unit. The latter has been very instrumental in facilitating applications for residence permits and other administrative tasks and the students expressed their sincere thanks to Chanette and the team.
In their own words, the PhD Visiting fellows highlighted that “Visiting Aalborg was a very exciting experience. I found the town and the people very welcoming and open to get to know us more.” (Betty-Ann from Ghana). Wisdom Kaleng’a from Zambia mentioned “The magnanimity of the Head of Department for Department of Politics and Society, and other AAU staff we met and interacted with, was an inspiration. Aalborg and Aalborg University, the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and Danida Fellowship Centre have undoubtedly made a mark on my academics and unfolding professional life”.
Photo: PhD Visiting Fellows Fabiyi Oluwasegun Tope (University of Ilorin), Wisdom Kaleng’a (University of Zambia), Moges Tufa (University of Addis Ababa), Betty-Ann Ananeh-Frempong (University of Cape Town) and Rofina Mrosso (Mzumbe University); AAU mentors Assoc. Prof. Jesper Lindgaard Christensen, Prof. Edward Lorentz and Assoc. Prof. Eun Kyung (AfricaLics mentors from Aalborg Business School); Assoc. Professor Birgitte Gregersen (Aalborg University Business School); Senior Advisor Margrethe Holm Andersen (Department of Politics and Society and Academic coordinator of the AfricaLics PhD VFP).
On the last day of the visit to Aalborg, the students got a chance to visit the Museum of Art in Aalborg (Kunsten) and finally, they had a very productive meeting with Jacob Ravn, the CEO of Access2Innovation (A2I). This non-profit and member-based organisation started as a spin-off from Aalborg University (Department of Planning) and has the grand mission for 2024 of creating the innovation ecosystem for scalable SDG Partnerships between Denmark and developing markets. The focus is on sustainable energy, agribusiness, water and sanitation, sustainable housing and ICT – and mainly with a focus on Eastern African markets. The organisation helps bring together regional/local knowledge and networks with state-of-the-art scientific knowledge with knowhow, production capacity and marketing as well as decision makers and financing. Responding to the presentation by Jacob Ravn, Moges Tufa from Ethiopia noted “I was very pleased to see that the overall goal of A2I and AAU is to contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals by generating knowledge focusing on innovation through practically engaging the business community”.
Photo: Jacob Ravn, CEO of Access2Innovation (A2I), with the AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellows discussing the inspiring work of A2I.
For now, the 2020-2021 cohort is the last group to be studying at Aalborg University as the 2022 Visiting Fellows cohort will be hosted by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) in Kenya. Feel free to help distribute the Call, which is available here.