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COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION TO ADVANCE BANGLADESH

In ICT arena, lot of organizations in Bangladesh are regularly displaying very good business performance and creating impact. However, a significant portion of them are doing just implementation and commissioning of imported solutions or products, without any research linkage or academic collaboration. This scenario needs to be improved as the country is progressing fast.Every year a lot of academic projects are being undertaken in different universities of the country. Some of these projects can be streamlined with industrial ambition focusing on specific vision. It can be started from small dimension, but gradually can be scaled up by building own capacity. Tri-party collaboration (government-industry-academia) is quite essential in this regard.

Every year, we are importing huge amount of different technical products-solutions in the country. This scenario can be improved if we have our strong R&D setup for product development-customization. Without effective R&D, diversified product cannot be developed. For example: if any local company wants to adopt cutting-edge technologies like: IoT ,Blockchain ; for which local market may not be still ready, they can take help from academic end to develop such solution. So far Bangladeshhave made pioneering examples in global perspective in two domains. First, facilitating healthcare for large population despite possessing limited resource. Secondly, delivery of government service through digital access. Academic collaboration can help us to achieve much more.

Another important aspect is to ensure human centricity of technology. Lot of service functionalities are now being developed in our country .But how those will behave in real field that always remains a question. We have highly skilled workforce, which we need to utilize properly through applied skills. Another thing is our usual culture to hide failures. This practice actually does not help for real improvement. So we need to improve in certain perspectives like: accepting and learning from failure, avoiding ego-centricity and establishing mutual respect. Also we need to eliminate any sort of trust gap among industry, academy and government . Current world is so dynamic that we need to make children ready for jobs which actually may not exist now (like: top 10 jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004). Amount of technical knowledge is also getting doubled every year. So, we need to ensure that knowledge and expertise are being rightly utilized and applied in our country.

Again, culture and mindset is an important factor here. A significant portion of our bright resources go abroad due to lack of proper work or research opportunity here. Indeed, the quality and scale of research activities in our country are always questionable. Position of our universities in world ranking indicates it clearly. Practice of industry funding to academic research work hardly exists. Even if any example is there, short term gain is mostly focused rather than long-term impactful research.Changing this scenario is not too difficult. Tri-party collaboration (government-industry-academia) can play the pivotal role here. Let us consider a simple mechanism.

In 5-year plans that are usually formulated by Bangladesh government, some allocation can be kept for industry-oriented academic research to be carried out by different universities. Open call can be circulated among all the universities seeking research proposal to utilize those funds. Universities will then submit concrete research or project proposals in liaison with respective industry, ensuring that submitted propositions are well oriented and relevant from Bangladesh industry perspective. Once the best proposals get approved by concerned body, full phase research work with 5 years tenure can start through effective tri-party collaboration (industry-academia-government) aiming some focused outcomes. Even if few of such endeavours become successful, those can bring differentiated benefits for the country.

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