Exploring women participation in Nigerian Universities

Principal Investigator(s): Dr Sola Adesola

Contact: sadesola@brookes.ac.uk

Project start: April 2020

Project finish: September 2022

Funded by: British Academy

About us

Too few Nigerian women researchers are leading spinout companies. There has been little or no attention focused on the Nigerian women researchers’ progression from research to spinout leadership. This study builds on the current UK research on university women spinouts and complements it by providing a more international perspective.

Science, Technology and Innovation are central to the Nigerian Government development plan for fostering prosperity and socioeconomic growth. Evidence of this is the Nigerian Vision 20:2020 formulated to resolve the long term disconnect between economic planning, science, and technology.

Nigeria is committed to raising awareness of STI and its effect on the Sustainable Development Goals, thus advancing women engineering and global technological development.

There is a stronger case for this study to investigate and analyse individual level gender experiences in university spinouts in Nigeria. The study aims to provide innovative insights on women’s participation in university spinouts and STI in Nigeria.

According to the 2019 Global Innovation Index, Nigeria ranked 123 out of 130 countries on the University/Industry research collaboration, this implies that Nigerian S&T institutions are fairly below average. The Nigeria Government’s Science, Technology and Innovation is at the heart of development plan to fostering prosperity and socio-economic growth. It is therefore crucial that universities take action to harness women’s talent.

The research attempts to find out what universities in Nigeria are doing to address the existence of gender gap in academic entrepreneurship. Some universities are beginning to see the importance of academic spinouts and making an effort to encourage academics to take up the challenge, but many researchers are constrained by the limited opportunities for academic entrepreneurship and spinouts.

A female scientist working in a laboratory

Research impact

Female scientist in front of laboratory equipment

The research aims to explore the determinants of the gender gap in academic entrepreneurship among Nigeria-based women academics in science and engineering disciplines, and focusing on university spinout at selected institutions.

In this study, involvement of both women and men will be the subject of investigation. The research is important not only for universities, but also it provides evidence base for better policy and practice in gender entrepreneurship and university-industry interactions in Nigeria.  

By understanding women's participation, and the possible causes of their significant under-representation in university spinout companies, this research hopes in turn that it will contribute to improving the pathways for women researchers to spinout, and advance knowledge on education and science and technology sectors, and in the wider recognition of these two key sectors in sustainable development and innovation.


Research presentation: University Spinouts: Exploring Women Participation in the Nigerian Universities

As part of this British Academy funded project, Dr Sola Adesola at the Oxford Brookes Business School presented the project on University STEM spinout in the Nigerian universities and Women participation.

Dr Adesola started with an overview of the project and showcased findings and implications from the research from spinout founders and key informants. This was followed by a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders. It offered an opportunity to seek a way forward from the end users as well as exploring collaborative opportunities.

Supporting spinouts in Nigeria: Expert advice from the innovation ecosystem

Meet Opolo Global Innovation Limited: an innovation advisory platform for innovators and investors that fosters alliances to improve product development and research processes for commercialisation.

The video is a recording of our conversation on the relationship between universities in Nigeria and business angels to support spinouts and develop their ventures

Speaker: Mr Deji Ajani, Sustainability Manager at Opolo Global Innovation Limited

In Conversation with Intersectionality and Innovations - Meet Black Women Science Entrepreneurs

Dr Sola Adesola, Oxford Brookes Business School, led this Equality, Diversity and Inclusion network panel discussion with Yinka Makinde, Director of Digital Workforce and Professionalisation at NHSX, and Georgina Ayoola, CEO and Technical Director of Wavelength Solutions and Wavepalm Tech Solutions. The conversation centres around their entrepreneurial and innovation journey and what lessons can be learnt.

Commercialisation of university research - Conversation with Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) 

A free online panel discussion was organised in collaboration with Fractional IP as a precursor to the British Academy funded research on 'University Spinouts Exploring women participation in Nigerian Universities' at Oxford Brookes University. 

Project aims and objectives

The research aims to achieve a step change in institutional capabilities to promote and increase the participation of women researchers in STEM university spinouts and to mainstream gender in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which drives innovation to translate their research inventions into spinout companies. 

To achieve this overall aim, the interrelated objectives of the research project are the following:

  • To understand the institutional pathways for women researchers aiming for academic entrepreneurship and spinouts
  • To investigate and map women's and men's experiences and capacities in spinouts (the micro level) through a sex-disaggregated overview of individuals involved in spinouts over time (e.g. sector, status, equity size, etc.)
  • To analyse barriers and enablers in the interactions with the meso and macro context of spinouts and entrepreneurial activities.

Research Activities:

  • Phase 1: Preparatory work, desk research, first analysis and designing interview protocols with research team
  • Phase 2: Data collection
  • Phase 3: Data Analysis and Reporting by research team
  • Phase 4: Public engagement and final reporting by research team

Female scientist working in a laboratory

Research reports

Research Report: The Status of Innovation in Africa’s Development Strategy: Where Should Science and Technology Fit In? Clark, N; Adesola, S and Alkali, U (2020)

Want to know more about the Innovation policy in Africa?

This chapter sets out the importance of knowledge systems in promoting economic development in African countries. Such relationships vary widely across countries given their unique histories and interrelationships. One especially important problem concerns the pattern of institutional development through which knowledge is produced, validated, and used, and how this pattern has evolved in recent years in many economically poor countries.

Book Cover of Entrepreneurial Universities: Creating institutional innovation in Times of Turbulence

Project team

Photo of Sola Adesola

Dr Sola Adesola
Senior Lecturer & EDI Lead, Oxford Brookes Business School

Dr Sola Adesola is the project Primary Investigation and a Senior Lecturer in International Organisations, Corporate & Business Law and International Business Law at Oxford Brookes Business School (OBBS). Her area of research expertise is on entrepreneurship and university industry collaboration, women spinouts and energy policy. Sola is very experienced in equality and diversity issues in Higher education. She has led successful knowledge exchange project on Enterprise Education for Employability in Nigeria funded by British Council. She played an integral role in the Athena Swan and EDI agenda for OBBS and Race Equality Strategic plan towards Institutional application for OBU. Formerly she was the Deputy Chair of the BAME Staff Network.

Photo of Elaine Ulett

Dr Elaine Ulett
Research Assistant

Elaine joined the research team in July 2021 as a Research Assistant for the Women and Spinouts Nigerian University project after completing her Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) in Spiritual Care in Healthcare at the School of Education at OBU. Elaine is a professional educator experienced in technology, leadership, and healthcare. After completing her EdD, she worked on Home Adaptions for Older People at the OBU. Elaine’s research interests are around Spirituality and Wellbeing, and she is keen to extend these interests to include business and personal development. She has a particular interest in helping people to develop and grow both physical and mentally, and is a qualified yoga and meditation teacher. Formerly, Elaine was a co-convenor for the Race, Ethnicity and Education special interest group with the British Education Research Association (BERA), and she was the Southern Regional Manager for the British Wheel of Yoga, the National Governing Body for Sports England.