As I reflect upon my R4i experience, I am reminded of a quote by Albert Einstein: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” Indeed, it is through the lens of imagination that we unlock the door to innovation, paving the way for a future defined not by limitations, but by boundless possibilities.
Words are not enough to summarise my R4i experience, as this is a lifetime opportunity to be inspired on how to be creative, innovative and positively impact the society. This journey started on a note that it was going to be like the usual workshop where you attend and enjoy the ambience of a place away from home, but I was later proven wrong. Right from the first day, it had been a wonderful exposition which stimulates me to love a problem with my heart but never be in love with a solution, as solutions to problems keep changing.
My first day at Innov8 Hub started with so much excitement until a certain teacher would constantly pick on me, I would constantly ask myself “why me again?” “what have I done this time?” little did I realize he had a lot of knowledge to give and was really particular about wanting me to consume as much as I could; which I eventually did because we, the youths, are indeed the future of innovation research.
The Research for Impact initiative opened the door to a paradigm shift in my approach to research and innovation. With 23 years of experience as a researcher, I initially approached the program with a sense of familiarity, centered on traditional research practices. Little did I know that my journey at Innov8 Hub would be a catalyst for profound transformation.
My first thought about R4i was that I will be taken away from the comfort of my home and family to yet another ‘as usual’ academic workshop one is used to, for two weeks! This was my feeling from the very first day I was nominated, down to the very moment I arrived in Abuja. But that feeling was completely changed, in fact, ‘Regret’ can never be a word to mention about The Research for Impact initiative.
On the first day of R4i, my colleagues and I were teasing each other, wondering what could an Innov8 Hub programme teach a university professor for up to two weeks? On the plus side, at least we will go home with our DTA. But then we were in for a big surprise, changing the way I look at everything. For the first time in many years, I found myself speechless. In fact, by day three I had an out of body experience into the world of endless imaginations full of hope.
I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt in my mind that, with all that I have learned from the R4i initiative in 10 days, the world will hear about me. Bespoke innovative solutions will be given birth to. The narrative will change concerning academia. I will indeed be a good ambassador of R4i and a transformative agent of research, innovations, inventions and an acadapreneur in Nigeria and across the world.
The culture of application of technology without demand-driven products must give way to innovation driven by genuine human needs and meaningful societal impact; permanently shutting the door on supply-driven innovation, which to me is no innovation at all. Poco a poco, it is surreptitiously becoming very clear that my academic research articles are not what my nation really needs to get out of the woods.
Personally, I saw my R4i experience as an exceptional lifetime opportunity to witness the thrill of innovation management and value creation. These have all been practically proven beyond doubt, to all participants through intense provision of in-depth insight of the means of attending to our immediate societal necessities. To such effect, R4i has really provided us with the principles, processes, platform and procedures of innovative research, development ideation, implementation management and value creation.
When I became the much awaited ‘professor’, like other milestones, there were no loud drums, no feelings of ‘I have arrived”. I felt I had accomplished something but knew that it was not yet ready. It was just another milestone. I wanted more, to make an impact and leave a legacy. By this time, the economic situation in the country had changed and as a professor, my take home pay could not take me home. I needed an additional source of income.