No, I’m not claiming that dyslexia is directly relevant to tackling the big challenge that 50 percent of Africans live in areas without adequate water – this will be 800 million people by 2025.
However, as The Dyslexic Professor, I am extremely pleased to be part of the team at Lancaster University that has just announced a £6.8M RECIRCULATE project to focus on “joining up” the different ways in which water supports communities, from sewage disposal to energy generation and water used in food production. It is based on the co-creation of solutions with leading researchers in Ghana and Nigeria in the first phase and the second phase bringing in partners from Malawi, Kenya, Botswana and Zambia. Interestingly, it is part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) a £1.5B fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015. It has been specially designed to stimulate research on the challenges faced by developing countries.
For me, it’s a great example of big picture thinking in action. Yes, I do mean big – it will probably be the highest value research project I will ever be a co-investigator on! But, I really mean big in terms of complexity. I’m co-leading the work on entrepreneurship, innovation and knowledge exchange, which seats at the heart of this four-year project.
But why is this so important?
The Lancaster University’s award-winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, is quite literally full of bright scientists who are working across a number of areas related to water. The project brings four of these together (Energy; Food; Pathogens; Sanitation) and using the expertise on entrepreneurial learning in the Lancaster University Management School works to develop capacity in Ghana and Nigeria and develop the water economy. This means bringing together all the stakeholders – including entrepreneurs to co-create and take solutions to market.
Talking of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, you might remember me working with some of their PhD students …
The full video of Stimulating Entrepreneurial Thinking in Scientists programme:
My quote for the press release states: “Our goals are clear – to grow capacity and capability in Africa’s eco-innovation community. We are in no doubt that co-creating sustainable and scalable solutions together will be hard but the rewards of success to the people of Africa will be huge.”
Now, all we have to do is deliver!