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18 November 2017
Research Innovation and Outreach at Kenyatta University Print
Friday, 05 September 2014 16:31

At Kenyatta University Research Uptake Management capacity is being put in place to get research into use in the full range of research activities – from participative community research to technology transfer to public engagement.

Kenyatta University is changing its institutional structures in order to support the Kenyan governments’ “Kenya Vision 2020”. It also aims to provide the best support for its researchers, and by doing so produce the next generation of academics and researchers.  Importantly the new structure also embeds Research Uptake (RU) throughout.  And the DRUSSA programme’s work with Kenyatta has contributed to these decisions.  Research Uptake Management capacity is being put in place to get research into use in the full range of research activities – from participative community research to technology transfer to public engagement.

 

Supporting Research Uptake

According to Prof. Frederick Gravenir, the DVC for Research Innovation and Outreach at Kenyatta University, the university’s RU has in the past been focused narrowly on research dissemination and was the responsibility of the Deputy Director for Capacity Building and Dissemination. This unit operated under the Institute for Research, Science and Technology (IRST), which took responsibility for research management along with the Director for Grant Writing and Management and a Director for Intellectual Property Rights. All these different units reported to the Vice Chancellor. This structure was challenging for a number of reasons, including the problem of overlapping duties between these Directorates. The structure also did not integrate Research Uptake as part of its overall strategy. The university felt that there was a need to develop a more comprehensive research and innovation structure where Research Use is key to all its activities. This is all part of Kenyatta Universities’ Institutional Strategy and it specifically refers to engaging with external stakeholders and developing links with industry.

"The university felt that there was a need to develop a more comprehensive research and innovation structure where Research Use (RU) is key to all its activities."

Embedding Research Uptake

Falling under the DVC for Research, Innovation and Outreach (RIO) who reports to the Vice Chancellor the new research support management structure now has a Registrar for Research Innovation and Outreach  and two sub-units – the Research Support and Dissemination Unit and a Research Management and Budget Office.  The DVC (RIO) is supported by the University Research Advisory Board as well as the Ethics Review Board.

RU falls squarely within the responsibilities of the Research Support and Dissemination Unit. It is responsible for co-ordinating the dissemination of research results but also for enhancing evidence-based RU by the public. This means that, in addition to its responsibilities for research dissemination in academic journals, it is tasked with working with the universities’ academic units to plan conferences, seminars and workshops where research results can be profiled and the potential of research uptake can be explained to the public.  Public engagement is therefore central to its work and runs through all its activities.

The RIO also has functional links with other units involved in promoting RU, including the Intellectual Property Rights office, the University Printing Press and the Chandaria Business Innovation Centre.

"Kenyatta University’s foregrounding of RU  provides the university with broad body of research it needs to engage with engage with different audiences, including industry, the general public, other academics and policy makers."

Conclusion

In discussing the role of RU in the new institutional structure, Prof Gravenir noted that the university has seen an increase in the number of research grants awarded from 30 in 2013 to 54 in 2014 and said that “the new front for competition and superiority among universities in Kenya will be in research and innovation”. Given these resources  Kenyatta University’s foregrounding of RU  provides the university with the broad body of research that it needs to engage with its stakeholders, including industry, the general public, other academics and policy makers, thus ensuring improved impact for the research that the university undertakes.


 Prof. Frederick Gravenir is the DVC for Research Innovation and Outreach at Kenyatta University. This blog is an adaptation of the original presentation by Prof Gravenir, and was informed by the background notes that accompanied this presentation. The full presentation can be found here

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