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Open African Innovation Research Network recognized with a 2023 SSHRC Impact Award

The Open African Innovation Research Network (Open AIR), founded in 2006, is aiming to improve global regulatory systems to ensure that innovations in health care, but also in data governance, food security and green technologies, are more equitably distributed.
The Open AIR logo

This work is now being recognized with a 2023 SSHRC Impact Award in the Partnership Award category, an indication of the network’s efforts in advancing Africa’s place in the world’s knowledge economy and advancing cooperative innovation strategies and intellectual property reforms that will lead to more equitable and inclusive benefit sharing.

Given years of support from IDRC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and other funders, Open AIR has concentrated on guiding the development of laws, practices and policies that will bring about more inclusive innovation, assisting both low- and high-income countries. This network consists of dozens of researchers in Canada, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and about 20 more African nations. 

Following previous IDRC grants, Open AIR recently received a grant of almost CAD2 million from the Centre to investigate diverse models of the regulation of innovation in Africa. This project focuses on the African Continental Free Trade Area, a new economic union of 55 countries with 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of USD3.4 trillion. 

Members of the Open AIR team in a photo.
Open AIR team. Back: Chris Armstrong, Chidi Oguamanam, Serge Mushinzimana, Jeremy de Beer, Nagla Rizk, Bassem Awad, Melissa Omino, Tobias Schonwetter, Victoria Schorr, Dick Kawooya. Front: Hamid Benhmade, Caroline Muchiri, Caroline Ncube, Yvonne Ndelle.

The SSHRC Impact Awards recognize the achievements of outstanding researchers and students in social sciences and humanities research, research training, knowledge mobilization and outreach activities funded partially or fully by SSHRC. Winners are chosen by a jury of renowned experts from academia, as well as the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. 

Professors Jeremy de Beer and Chidi Oguamanam of the University of Ottawa will accept the Impact Award on behalf of the Open AIR team. At the invitation of the Honourable Greg Fergus, Speaker of the House of Commons, they will also be recognized, with other Impact Award winners, during Question Period in the House of Commons.