Research in ActionHealth Economics Governance Social Policy
Research in ActionScience and Technology Information and Communication
IDRC awardeesNo relevant topics
ICT innovation needs solid relationshipsVictor OtekuResearch Awards2017
“It looks obvious,” says 2017 IDRC Research Award Recipient Victor Oteku, “but the importance of personal connections is very strong in establishing partnerships for technological innovation in Kenya.” Working in IDRC’s Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa, Oteku’s research sought to uncover socio-political and economic factors that shape partnerships for technological innovation in Kenya.
Oteku chose the information and communication technology sector for his study because of its high value to innovation and its contributions to growth in other sectors. The Kenyan government is also focusing on scientific and technological innovation in its long-term development plan, he says.
“Partnerships are mutual and synergetic collaborations geared toward a common goal,” says Oteku. The online survey he conducted showed that economic factors had the biggest influence on partnerships. Interviews and focus group discussions, however, “suggested that socio-cultural factors had a stronger influence.” Personal relationships, in particular, can determine success or failure. He concluded that all those involved need to work toward formal but open and flexible partnerships.
While a research awardee, Oteku also helped develop a proposal in support of the multi-funder Science Granting Councils Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa. These councils are central to funding and catalyzing research and innovation.
Personally, “I nurtured the values of tolerance, cooperation, and hard work just by observing my colleagues do their jobs,” says Oteku. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been here.”
IDRC awardeesNo relevant topics
A deep dive into the ethics of vaccine trialsMachteld van den BergResearch Awards2017
“By working within the Foundations for Innovation program and the Advisory Committee for Research Ethics, I had the unique opportunity to bridge the two areas,” says 2017 IDRC Research Award Recipient Matchteld van den Berg. Those two areas are also the focus of van den Berg’s graduate studies, exploring the ethics around vaccine access, informed consent, and individual autonomy.
In recent years there has been an accelerated push to develop a malaria vaccine, she says. But questions surface around justice and the vulnerability of the research participants and intended benefactors.
During fieldwork in Tanzania, she spoke with the caretakers of children who had been enrolled in a clinical vaccine trial to improve her understanding of their experiences. “Mothers may not have access to healthcare,” she says, “so consenting to a vaccine trial, regardless of the risks or conditions, may be the only feasible method to access medical care.” What’s more, the financial incentives to participate may be such that they override other considerations.
“Gaining insight into the realities participants inhabit is essential for conducting ethical research in a just and fair manner,” she concludes. “I think we sometimes forget the relatedness we have with one another and the importance of making those connections. Through this we can best learn from one another to design research studies that are respectful and effective, building trust and relationships along the way.”
For van den Berg, the research “refined my sense of the importance of global collaboration on key issues in development. This has impacted the direction I would like to take my research and, ultimately, the career path I follow,” she says.
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