Sri Lankan scientists launch innovation dashboard to track R&D

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) –Sri Lankan scientists have launched a web-based tool called the Sri Lanka Innovation Dashboard to provide up-to-date information about the island’s science, technology and innovation work that policymakers and businesses can use.

The tool aims to overcome reluctant among the island’s scientific community to share information and highlight innovations so that research and development efforts can be better commercialised and used for policymaking.

Developed by Lanka Software Foundation for Sri Lanka’s Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology, & Innovation (COSTI), the ‘Dashboard’ web application is licensed under Creative Common License for non-commercial use and can be shared and re-used with proper acknowledgement.

“This is a tool that enables better decision making,” said Ajith de Alwis, Project Director of COSTI and Professor at the University of Moratuwa Department of Chemical and Process Engineering.

He said the application will help overcome current limitations in data and provide comprehensive information about Sri Lanka’s R&D and innovation efforts in one location, enabling users from both the government and business sector to plan better.

 “We don’t know what others are doing and as a result we have very poor decision-making,” said de Alwis who is also the Director of the University of Moratuwa-Cargills Food Process Development Incubator, a tie-up with the private sector.

“That’s why COSTI is introducing this dashboard today. We have a lot of natural resources but we’re not adding value to them. We have a lot of research being done but not commercialised and not adding value either.”

Geetha Abeysinghe, Program Director in charge of the dashboard project at COSTI, said it would help promote a culture of data sharing.

“It’s sometimes difficult to get people to share. We hope this will break down barriers to data accessibility. To have a knowledge society we need to share our knowledge. Without sharing our data how can we talk of sharing knowledge? You first need to have a culture of data sharing.

“Governments are actually collecting cast amounts of information but this information is not available for citizens,” Abeysinghe said.





A COSTI report on the project said that although Sri Lanka has many innovations and discoveries, only few are commercialized.

“Although there are organizations such as Innovators Commission who capture some, many go unnoticed,” it said.

“There is currently no space where innovators can record such discoveries and market them. The national Research Registry fills this gap by allowing researchers and innovators to record their innovations and research.”

The Dashboard will serve to provide an integrated view of national research outputs and improve direct access to research data for end-users.

It will also provide input to industry experts on what to avoid and where to channel their limited resources.

“Throughout the Research, Development to Commercialization value chain there are many players – researchers, lecturers, fund managers, industry  – who have different questions that they need answers to,” the report said.

“The Dashboard will facilitate answers to all kinds of questions sought by such users, such as whether a technology area is worth pursuing, has anyone done a similar project and are possible sources of funds.

”Funders will also find the Dashboard an excellent reference point. They can seek relevant feedback and information before approving the allocation of funds by making sure that the proposed project has the potential of producing commecializable outputs.”

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