DSN PhD4Innovation Hub

Powering a research-driven local innovation ecosystem

Concept: DSN PhD4Innovation hub is focused on supporting PhD/MSc research works that solve social/business problems through a tripartite model that brings together rigorous academic research, industry R&D support and incubation support for Ideas development and techpreneurship.

Background: The technology ecosystem requires a tripartite engagement between the industry, academia and the developers’ ecosystem in order to create insightful breakthroughs that leverage rigorous academic research to solve industrial and social problems. A technology ecosystem that is not rooted in robust intellectual academic research may be short-sighted and unsustainable, hence a need to learn from the successful models like the Stanford/Silicon Valley business model and the Cambridge Innovation ecosystem.

The current growth in tech ecosystems is not well aligned with local research contributions from Nigerian universities, especially in areas that provide huge opportunity for socio-economic leapfrogging (e.g. artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc.). Many ideas being promoted in the developers’ ecosystem today are not serving the fundamental peculiarities of our nation, and there remains a penchant for copying the developed world. For example, if we have more featurephones in the low income segment of society, why is there no research on what can be done to deliver on-demand services via unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) instead of applications? It appears that our current developmental efforts are not underpinned by the robust, research-led identification of problems and their requisite scientific exploration, which are precursor to truly innovative local solutions.

The hub’s focus is therefore on how to use using data to answer local problems and drive digital inclusion and achievement of Millennium Development Goals.

What differentiates this hub from others?

  • Targeted at PhD research students with truly indigenous and innovative research ideas with potential of becoming an innovative tech business.
  • Focused alignment with the Millennial Development Goals and imperative for addressing African-centric social issues (financial inclusion, medical automation, education etc.)
  • Continuous engagement with the industry to understand gaps and research interests
  • Hosting of research fellows all around the world
  • E-library centre
  • AI prototype centre for emerging trends and innovations
  • Strategic partnership with Global AI/Data Science/ML centres of excellence
  • Incubation and Entrepreneurial capacity building
  • Idea Prototyping/Development/Testing
  • Regular engagement with global fund/competitions/investors
  • Mental Leadership through report publication on key social and business issues that the hub is researching on
  • Hosting of world-class events in AI, ML, Big Data etc.

What does DSN PhD4Innovation Hub bring to the industry?

  • A platform where you can easily share ideas about business problems or gaps where research and solution development is expected, and a strong focus on the use of advanced analytics, artificial intelligence etc.
  • A platform that hosts and manages innovation sandboxes for business-oriented ideas that encourages idea experimentation and concept validation from the academic/developer ecosystems
  • A platform where you can partner, sponsor and collaborate with academic talents (lecturers and students) who have industry-relevant academic research
  • A platform where you can recruit talents for strategic R&D projects and innovations
  • A platform on which investors can identify ideas to invest in and incubate technical and commercial readiness.

What does DSN PhD4Innovation Hub bring to the academic environment?

  • A platform through which to showcase planned and ongoing research works and innovations that have commercial relevance
  • A platform on which to access industry data, support and bench-test research works that require real world testing or validation
  • A platform to disseminate knowledge dissemination of research breakthroughs


Propositions for would-be research-to-innovator PhD/MSc techpreneurs

Make your PhD a Profitable high-Impact Discovery

Invest your PhD research in an area that solves social and business problems and build your research discovery into an innovation business.

What beneficiaries will enjoy?

  • World-class academic guidance on how to expand, scale up, and turn your research work into a viable project
  • Funding for research and travel stipends to attend conferences
  • Access to world-class mentors and support systems
  • Access to industry data, support and an R&D sandbox
  • Access to an incubator ecosystem to monetize your discovery
  • Access to investors who can help you to scale up your research into a business
  • Strong focus in the areas of indigenous software development, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Machine Learning, Linguistics Chatbots, GIS systems, Financial Inclusion, Medical Automation etc.

Management: The programme is managed by expert academic researchers (in Nigeria and abroad), incubator experts, industry R&D gurus, global innovation leaders, and backed by investors who are committed to developing high-impact, medium-to-long term transformational solutions.